Proposed Kalamazoo housing project seeks to aid recovering opioid addicts


A West Michigan developer wants to build housing in the Kalamazoo Edison neighborhood to help recovering addicts get back on their feet, but some neighborhood residents are not pleased.

Hollander Development Corporation (HDC), based in Portage, proposed to develop a 51-unit permanent supportive housing community for individuals with substance use disorders and referred by Kalamazoo-area treatment courts.

The $10.5 million dollar project is the first of its kind in West Michigan and the developer planned to build the complex where the Allied Paper Plant once stood.

The development would create a community consisting of 50 units of Permanent Supportive Housing that would serve individuals with substance use disorders.

A meeting was held Thursday night at the Edison Neighborhood Association building to address the plan. Some neighbors were leery of the apartment complex in their neighborhood.

"We have families and we have properties. How would you like plopping it in your neighborhood?" a resident said.

Stephanie Wilson has been in recovery for six months and all she wants is a stable place to live.

Wilson spoke about how much she and other recovering addicts would need an apartment complex like the one proposed.

"A lot of addiction stem from not having a stable environment and not having any support around this. This is a great opportunity," Wilson said.

Dozens of recovering addicts and Edison neighborhood resident gathered to hear plans for the apartment recovery complex, which would be used for people going through Kalamazoo-area treatment courts

The Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals (MATCP), Cinnaire Corporation, a Lansing-based, multi-state community development financial institution, retained HDC to develop the pilot project to help create stable housing options for recovering addicts.

The project is part of an effort launched by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to build recovery housing. Locations in Kalamazoo and Jackson have been selected as the pilot locations and both will focus on opioid use disorders.

"Drugs are taking over. For ya'll to do this, I applaud you," said one resident in the crowd.

Harvey Hoffman, legislative director for the MATCP, said eligible residents would have to be in good standing in the drug courts. Hoffman said residents could live in the apartments for however long is needed.

At the time of reporting, recovering addicts in Kalamazoo County could live in recovery houses, but only up to 90 days.

"There's no place to go, so this project provides them the next step," said Kaye Sanders, with the Community Healing Center.

Hoffman said currently it's easy for addicts to fall back into old habits.

"They simply go back to their old neighborhood, old friends. If you're addict, if all your friends are using, if everyone you're living with is using. It makes it very difficult for treatment to be successful," said Hoffman.

Kalamazoo-based Community Healing Centers will coordinate on-site services for individuals referred to the community from Kalamazoo treatment courts.

Supporters hope the new housing concept will transform lives. Some neighbors are preparing to embrace it.

"I support this project 100 percent. I think it will bring a blossom to Edison that doesn't exist now," said one resident.

Developers said the location was picked in part because residents can easily access treatment courts and report to case managers working nearby.

In 2017, the Family Health Center opened a brand new $15 million facility. The Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is moving into 400 Bryant St. after a $9 million facility renovation.

The project will need approval from the Kalamazoo Planning Commission and Kalamazoo City Commission before moving forward.

Developers hope to break ground in early 2019 with construction to complete within 12-16 months.

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