Justice Unhoused

United Way contributes $110K to shelter the homeless

In partnership with the city and county, the money will provide living space to help homeless people avoid COVID and the winter cold.

The United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region has announced it will provide $110,000 toward housing homeless people during the cold winter months as the COVID-19 pandemic rages in Kalamazoo County.

The organization is partnering with the City of Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo County. A program called Continuum of Care coordinates homelessness programs in the county. A news release states it is funding additional day and nighttime shelters for those without permanent housing.

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Kalamazoo County’s homeless population has grown in recent months, due in part to evictions and joblessness caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Continuum of Care estimates that as many as 175 people are currently living in outdoor encampments throughout the county. That number is an increase of 45 more people than there were in September.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised that authorities not clear out such encampments unless they have places for those people to go and safe methods of transporting them. That’s because once an encampment is cleared, the people who lived there lose contact with support organizations and are more likely to contract and spread COVID-19.

The Continuum of Care has four strategies for addressing the county’s growing homeless population while also preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

They have already begun operating a new temporary day shelter at The River Church on Walbridge Street in Kalamazoo. That is open five days per week and provides lunch.

The LIFT Foundation plans to buy an old motel to repurpose for temporary winter shelter for people currently living in homeless encampments.

The City of Kalamazoo is providing trash service and ground cover to two large encampments in the city.

The Continuum of Care is spearheading a new program to provide more permanent housing for up to 12 homeless people at a time.

You can read more on MLive.

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