KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — Kalamazoo County voters appeared early Wednesday to have rejected a tax proposal to extend and expand support for affordable housing, but when the final votes were tallied, the millage passed.
With all of the in-person votes tallied early Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, county voters had cast 58,195 no votes on the proposal, or about 52%. The votes in favor of the plan were 52,910, or 48%.
However, county officials reported they had not yet finished counting all of the absentee ballots. Once the final vote counts came in, more than 66,000 Kalamazoo residents did vote in favor of the proposal. The totals were still considered unofficial, until they are certified by the county.
The current one-tenth of a mill tax has raised nearly $800,000 annually each of the past six years, helping hundreds of families find affordable housing. The new 0.75-mill property tax will cover eight years, from December 2021 to December 2028 and will provide rental subsidies, permanent housing, and other supportive services for residents in Kalamazoo County.
To put the plan into perspective, a homeowner who owns a home valued at $100,000 would pay about $38 more a year for the new tax.
Some officials have said there aren’t many affordable options in the county and the campaign's goal is to provide safe, permanent places for community members to live.
The Kalamazoo County Public Housing Commission has said there are more than 700 homeless people in the county and the COVID-19 pandemic has made matters worse, with more than 400 new evictions filed in August.
They said the hope is for this to be a long-term solution.