What should the City of Kalamazoo do with $38M?

The City of Kalamazoo started a 30-day comment period to get resident opinions on how they should spend over $38M in federal stimulus funding from the American Rescue Plan (ARP). PMN created a survey, to get new ideas out and foster community discussion around this topic. Please take a look at the results. 

The city of Kalamazoo has been awarded $38.9 million in stimulus funds from the American Rescue Plan. The objectives for this money are to:

 

- Support urgent COVID-19 response, to continue to control the spread of the virus and get this pandemic under control.
- Support immediate economic stabilization, for households and businesses.
- Replace lost public sector revenue, to strengthen support for vital public services and help retain jobs.
- Address systematic public health and economic challenges, that have contributed to the unequal impact of the pandemic. 

 

The City of Kalamazoo is in a public comment period from June 18 to July 18. Residents are invited to go to this link to let city officials know how the funds should be used. 

 

The Public Media Network created our own survey, asking Kalamazoo residents how the city should spend the money. By sharing our findings, we hope to put some new ideas out there, and foster community discussion around this topic. Please view the results of our survey below.

Question 1: Which of these 9 priorities (as determined by the city commission) matter the most to you? 

Question 1

Question 2: Which priority issues (compiled by the city government) do you feel the strongest about?

Question 2

Question 3: If public health response was prioritized, how should this aid be used?

Question 3

Question 4: If addressing negative economic impact was prioritized, how should this aid be used?

Question 4

Question 5: If addressing public sector revenue loss was prioritized, how should this aid be used?

Question 5

Question 6: Which of the following ideas should be prioritized to help those hit hardest by the pandemic? 

Question 6

Question 7: Which ideas mentioned by city commissioners do you agree with the most?

Question 7

Question 8: What do you think should be the first priority for fund allocation?

Participants wrote unique responses to each of the questions below. Since our goal is to foster conversation and collect new ideas, we have chosen to include all answers submitted. We have also included a word cloud summarizing which ideas came up the most frequently. 

Note: Views stated below do not necessarily reflect the views of PMN. 

 

word cloud question 8
  1. BIPOC in the most distressed neighborhoods.

  2. The homeless and housing issues should definitely be given priority.

  3. Enhance broadband, support housing improvements.

  4. Any services that assist in basic needs (food, shelter, employment) that greatly impact our most marginalized communities, which then benefits the entire community as a whole. Working with our homeless population, under/un-employed, and education resources for schools that are not predominantly white or wealthy.

  5. Low-income neighborhood associations.

  6. Pollution clean-up.

  7. Affordable housing projects.

  8. Addressing and finding solutions to the homeless problem.

  9. Resources for the homeless.

  10. Homelessness

  11. Invest in childcare so parents can go to work and the economy can warm up again. Housing is a huge issue too. There's a Housing shortage so to create a program that teaches/support those small business owners, with lots to develop them, and build affordable housing.

  12. Housing for low-income and homeless families and individuals.

  13. Repair and replace unsafe sidewalks. They have become difficult for people with canes, walkers and crutches; and EXTREMELY dangerous for people in wheelchairs.

  14. Public health

  15. Small businesses, low income families that have a job and are clearly trying provide for their family.

  16. More youth programs to reduce disparities and youth violence.

  17. Homelessness

  18. Address educational disparities by expanding early learning services, providing resources to high-poverty school districts, expanding tutoring and afterschool services, and caring for social, emotional, and mental health needs. Promote healthy childhood environments with new or expanded childcare, and services for child welfare involved families and foster youth.

  19. Environmental justice and housing disparity issues.

  20. Education

  21. Focus on health services impacted by COVID-19. Mental health issues of children, homeless, single mothers

  22. Schools or mental health care (NOT Community mental health).

  23. Housing

  24. Affordable housing and development in low income neighborhoods. As well as social development.

  25. Investing in affordable housing, or the housing in general, in order to take care of our homeless residents.

  26. Education in out of school time sector.

  27. Housing

  28. Helping with housing, to many houses need repairs.

  29. Senior citizens struggling to pay rent and purchase medications.

  30. Providing housing/sheltering for those experiencing homelessness.

  31. Homeless, affordable housing

  32. Public health and COVID response

  33. AFFORDABLE HOUSING!!!

  34. Infrastructure and jobs

  35. Disparities

  36. Housing

  37. Addressing the affordable housing and housing shortages.

  38. Gun violence is a massive issue in Kzoo right now. Second issue would be mental health services which helps address homelessness

  39. Housing/ homeless

  40. Interest free home improvement loans to qualified neighborhoods/neighborhoods in need

  41. Black businesses

  42. The homeless need help getting what’s needed to get them in a better situation.

  43. Addressing systemic inequities rather than symbolic gestures.

  44. Small business. Especially the restaurant industry.

  45. Small Business support, housing.

  46. Economic relief

  47. Wastewater and water infrastructure.

  48. More funds towards schools in high poverty neighborhoods.

  49. Economic disparity such as homelessness and unequal access to healthcare.

     

Question 9: Is there anything else you would like to share?

Participants wrote unique responses to each of the questions below. Since our goal is to foster conversation and collect new ideas, we have chosen to include all answers submitted. 

Note: Views stated below do not necessarily reflect the views of PMN.

 

 

  1. Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts.

  2. I live in an older home that needs work but don't have the means to do so. I would love to have a program that not only assist in helping me get this house in better shape, but providing work opportunities for those in training. I also wouldn't mind being in a program that not only provides funding but also training to DIY things myself.

  3. Transportation: There should be a more efficient transportation system between Portage, Battle Creek, Richland and Kalamazoo. So those major work centers (Kellogg, Stryker, Zoetis and Pfizer...) could hire workers that reside in areas like the East and Northside.

  4. Focus needs to be placed on those most vulnerable in the Kalamazoo area. There are many families and individuals whose basic needs are not being met and this funding could go a long way to get them resources. Things like bailouts for small businesses are great, but the poor seem forgotten about and left behind and ensuring basic needs are met should be the top priority.

  5. Back off giving the homeless everything for free. There's a reason it's an issue in Kalamazoo and that's because the city/community provides them with everything, which in turn brings in more homeless people from other cities. Every single elected official should spend 1 full day in that camp. It would take them all of 10 mins to realize that over half of them are free loaders or drug users. The only thing stopping them from being employed is sheer laziness. With that said, there are individuals there who could use the help and I honestly hope they get it. Before that happens though, the free loading, drug using, inconsiderate trash tossing individuals need to be removed.

  6. We need the city to fund high quality youth programs.

  7. A citywide recycling program that should be mandatory for apartment building owners to partake in! It is so hard to do your part when apartment complexes don’t sign up for multi-unit recycling bins.

  8. Can we get into the homeless community and remove mental health cases & drug abusers from people who simply want to avoid living in society? We must demand people work to get services within the homeless community. Don’t give these folks money, serve them breakfast, lunch, dinner. Let them serve by helping, trash pick up etc. they must have a schedule and help them get into a routine. If they want to work. This will help identify those who want help to get back into society. Any housing assistance should come with expectations from the home owner & neighborhood. I don’t want a hand-out from “slum lords”! Can we construct smaller communities such as 5 single women with families who would live in a supportive community that help each other as they get training to employment, rehab etc. They couldn’t have male visitors at the community. They learn to cook, clean, child care, first aid. They get on a schedule of a healthy life style. Maybe another community of men who want to get ahead. Same type of rules and programs.

  9. Please listen to the community about which organizations in these areas are ACTUALLY helping folks. Some of these organizations are causing more harm than good.

  10. We have to get our communities more involved. The wellbeing of our city more than just their side of town they reside on. It all starts with our youth and having a development program for them.

  11. The price of housing is too much for any family making a decent wage. Cost of living is ridiculous.

  12. Equity and inclusion is NOT in action, a lot of talk but no real action. Black business and residents feel the city doesn't care!! City needs to get a REAL account about what is going on in the low-income neighborhoods!!

  13. Stop playing with people’s lives and help those that are the most vulnerable!

  14. A little honesty and transparency might make a few people in the city believe that there is someone in city government who is a pubic servant rather than a tool for the wealthy.

  15. Our KDPS should stand by and protect our communities not turn a blind eye as to the goings on in our neighborhoods. There are far too many firearms in our youth's reach.

  16. I think it would be great if some funds could also be allocated to people in domestic abuse situations and child protective services, as well as behavioral health services.