KALAMAZOO, MI – OutFront Kalamazoo is preparing to open Kalamazoo’s first long-term transitional housing facility that will primarily cater to LGBTQ+ youth.
The nonprofit, which serves the area’s LGBTQ+ community, purchased the property in December for $25,000 from the Kalamazoo Public Housing Commission, according to Kalamazoo County property records. The organization expects to be ready to welcome its first residents into space this spring, OutFront Kalamazoo executive director Amy Hunter told MLive/The Kalamazoo Gazette.
Several community partners — including LISC Kalamazoo, the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation and the Kalamazoo Community Foundation — worked with the Kalamazoo Public Housing Commission to renovate the property after the housing commission purchased it in 2020, Hunter said. The housing commission, she said, used grant funds to buy the house in 2020.
The property, a three-bedroom home in the city’s Vine neighborhood, only needs some minor renovations before it opens, Hunter said. There are no major or structural repairs planned that would slow the organization’s plans to open this spring.
Hunter said the house is being adapted to accommodate six to 10 people aged 18 to 24 at any one time. Wraparound services will be offered at home, as part of a six-month program for residents.
In addition to the three resident bedrooms, a fourth bedroom/office will provide space for a house manager, she said. There will also be a storage area for residents’ personal effects. While someone in need of emergency services is unlikely to be turned away if they show up at the door, Hunter said, staff will likely help them find other facilities that can help meet those needs more. immediate.
“It’s not so much a shelter as it is transitional housing,” she says. “We want to be able to help (residents) with comprehensive services and help them learn life skills and set them up for success by doing what we can to put a stop to at-risk chronic homelessness at Kalamazoo.”
The need for such a facility in the region is huge, Hunter said. Advocacy group True Colors United, through research with UCLA’s Williams Institute, found that while approximately 7% of youth identify as LGBTQ+ in the United States, more than 40% of homeless youth of the country identify themselves as such.
“We serve a niche population, but it’s a population that desperately needs support, not just in Kalamazoo but across the country,” Hunter said. “So we feel really, really lucky to have had the partners we’ve had over the past few years to make this a reality. I can’t stress enough how necessary.
“OutFront is really proud to be at the forefront here in Michigan. I think it’s a great project and we’re ready to be successful with this and we’ll be serving clients very soon that we’ll help set up to succeed.
The organization will begin accepting applications from potential residents in mid-March. Those interested in learning more can contact Grace Gheen, Director of Communications for OutFront Kalamazoo, at [email protected] or 269-349-4234.
The non-profit organization is also looking for donations to help furnish the house at this time. Those interested in helping with this can also contact Gheen.
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