Meeting Overview: Kalamazoo City Commission continues support of affordable housing 5/2/22

Civic Reporter Reed Shilts provides a brief overview of the Kalamazoo City Commission meeting on Monday, May 2, 2022.

On Monday, May 2, the Kalamazoo City Commission met with a focus on approving the “Program Year 2022 Action Plan.” The annual action plan is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to continue receiving grants and other funds totaling $2.8 million addressing the housing and community development needs of Kalamazoo low and moderate income families.


Previously, Kalamazoo created the HUD approved goal-based, five-year consolidated plan in 2019 and annually approved the detailed actions and budget items collectively known as the “Annual Action Plan.” 


Julie Johnston, community development compliance specialist, presented the background for the five-year consolidated plan along with the details for the 2022 action plan for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME). Of the activities funded for the immediate 2022 action plan, $1.4 million is directly targeting housing and is affecting 138 units of decent and affordable housing in the city, said Johnston. Other activities funded include public improvements, code enforcement, demolition of blighted properties, fair housing education and advocacy, and parks and recreation after-school programming.


The anticipated housing outcomes for these 138 units include:

  • Outright acquisition – 10 single family homes
  • Rental units rehabilitated – two single family homes 
  • Homeowner housing added as new construction – six units 
  • Homeowner housing rehabilitation – 112 units
  • Homeowner down payment assistance – eight units


“Acquisition would be ten single family homes that would potentially be rehabbed if necessary and then sold to low and moderate income households,” Johnston said. “New construction of housing, the city is going to utilize some CDBG and HOME funds to purchase vacant lots and build new affordable housing.”


In later questioning from Commissioner Decker, Johnston emphasized that if the affordability restrictions are observed, the funds are true grants, not loans.


The city commission unanimously passed the three proposals, with Commissioner Chris Pradel abstaining because of a perceived conflict of interest:

  1. Accept recommendations of the Community Act Advisory Committee and adopt the Program Year 2022 Action Plan.
  2. Authorize the director of Community Planning and Economic Development to act as the official representative of the City and sign all required HUD grant documents.
  3. Adopt a resolution authorizing the director of Community Planning and Development to act as the Certifying Officer for the required Environmental Review Record.


Later, the eleven items in the Consent Agenda were approved with only one item eliciting discussion. The items approved with no discussion included road sign maintenance, multiple bridge rehabilitations totaling over $3.5 million, and leasing part of a city owned property for farming. 


The single item with discussion was a first reading of zoning changes that will have their public hearing on May 16. Among other zoning changes, this will prohibit drive through service specifically at cannabis establishments.  This change brought forth discussion from the audience and board, however, Mayor Anderson reminded everyone the full public hearing will be on May 16. The commissioners unanimously approved this consent agenda item for its public hearing on May 16.


In closing, Mayor Anderson observed the theme for tonight is the work performed by groups of people, in a variety of areas, all over Kalamazoo, to make this a better place.