PODS - General Information and FAQs Updated 8/1/22
Housing Resources, Inc. (HRI) is launching “A Kzoo POD Community: A Place of Dignity” to include fifty (50) ModPod (TM) Each pod is designed to maximize comfort while providing secure personal living space that is waterproof, lighted, hearted, air conditioned and equipped with beds, mattresses, storage, windows, and electricity. These units will meet basic human needs while keeping people safe, warm, and secure as they move from unsheltered homelessness to sustainable housing.
The national and local affordable housing crisis has reached historic proportions only to be exacerbated by the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led to a sharp increase in people living in encampments not designed for habitation in Kalamazoo county. At HRI, we know that housing is the solution to homelessness. However, given the lag time needed for permanent housing solutions to be developed, HRI is creating a new emergency housing model that can be implemented rapidly as a pilot project to address the gap this crisis has exposed.
The free-standing, cottage-like Pod units will allow single adults and couples/partner to get off the streets, reduce COVID-19 exposure, meet their basic needs, and keep them safe, warm, an secure.
This list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and general updates are provided on this site to help share information on the project as HRI continues to finalize a site and operations plan.
The dignity-based Pod community will: 1) provide a safe transition space for unhoused adults while they seek permanent housing; and 2) prevent the spread of COVID-19 through this non-congregate crisis option that will follow best practice COVID protocols.
HRI has ordered the pods from LIT Solutions based in Portland and purchased the pods using HRI funds. However, HRI is actively fundraising for the project including the costs of the pods, site development and operations.
Update: Despite many months of delays in getting the pods shipped to us, they are safely here and stored. With recent delays in site finalization, our updated completion goal for the POD Community is set for Spring 2023.
Originally expected to arrive in late November early December of 2021, HRI has not been immune to the freight challenges the nation has been experiencing with a massive shortage of both trailers and drivers which has contributed to the delay of the manufacturing receiving necessary materials.
As of February 2022, the intention to create a pilot pod community this winter continues to be delayed by manufacturing and delivery issues that have yet to be resolved. Unfortunately, there won’t be time to create a housing pod community site this winter, should delivery occur. We’ve learned that we are held to timelines beyond our control…pandemics, supply chains, logistics, site availability, funding and that we must adapt and pivot but most of all keep moving forward. For now, we’ll move forward to get the PODS here to Kalamazoo while we find our site.
There will be much to do and months of site development once that step happens. And there will be successes and challenges in that process. Whether that takes a month, a year, or more, it is important to us that the POD project is a place for people to feel safe, supported, and sheltered from the streets.
Stay tuned for updates on our POD Pilot Project
There are sixteen (16) pods with two (2) single beds for couples/partners or someone that needs a caregiver and there are thirty-four (34) pods for single individuals.
The pods take approximately one (1) hour each to be assembled by two (2) people.
The pods do not have bathrooms, showers, or running water. When fully operational, resources will be available on-site to meet the need for toileting, personal hygiene, laundry, and food.
Yes, the pods are equipped with heat, air conditioning and electricity.
No. When the site is fully operational, accommodations will be provided for food to be available on-site with access to proper refrigeration and cooking facilities.
Yes, the pods have windows.
Yes, each pod comes with an ADA compliant metal clad entry door with unique 10 key 4-digit lock. The door is insulated and weather-tight metal.
Regular contracted trash removal (dumpsters) and maintenance/janitorial staff would be provided at any site where the project is located and is part of the ongoing operations.
A temporary proposed placement of the pods on a Stockbridge Avenue site is no longer being considered. Environmental and cost considerations have project partners looking for alternatives for the future. We continue to look for a suitable site and will continue to work toward finalization of the site and a lease.
HRI will have staff on site at the project twenty-four (24) hours a day.
The pods offer a private living and sleeping space. Bathrooms, showers, food, laundry, and, as well as, supportive and partnering services will be available to residents. The intent is to address residents’ immediate needs while working with them to develop long-term housing solutions.
When POD delivery timeframe and location is confirmed, HRI will establish a phased approach to open the project and allow the first residents to move into the pods. We will assure basic needs for health and safety can be met.
HRI is currently working to establish selection criteria for participants of the project. Previous information suggesting that we were actively working with the Outreach Committee of the CoC to develop a process was inaccurate. We are hopeful that the established “by name list” of the Outreach committee can be used to help select participants.
The pod project is not designed for children. Only adults will be permitted into the pod project.
There is no cost to live in a pod.
There will be an agreement for both HRI and the resident outlining rules of the pod community including the pod unit. HRI is interacting with people who are unhoused to hear directly from them what an agreement should reflect. They have identified the importance of having a “code of conduct” to enhance the ability of people to co-exist in the Pod community.
HRI is in the process of determining if additional storage will be needed or available based on the potential site. There will be limits to personal belongings allowed inside and directly outside of the pods. This is something that people who are unsheltered told us was important to them. HRI will also comply with all requirement of the Emergency Housing Ordinance which has stated requirements related to this area.
HRI will comply with all laws regarding service and support animals. If a resident already has a dog or cat upon entry to the pod project, the pet will be permitted into the project. No new pets will be permitted once someone moves into their pod. Pet owners will be required to maintain control of their animals, clean-up after them, and not interfere with other residents.
With pets and service animals allowed on site, will the pets be required to be licensed and have their shots up to date?
Answer: HRI will work with animal services and the animal owner to ensure licensing, testing and vaccination of animals who will be on site.
Given the purpose of the project, individuals can remain in their pod until housing is secured either on their own or with the assistance of community providers or others, or as long as the project exists. We anticipate that people may need substance abuse support, mental health support and many other types of support. We do not anticipate asking people to leave the project based on the known barriers and struggles that may have resulted in them becoming unhoused. However, we also will not permit violence or threats of violence against anyone or destruction of property in the project. In those cases, individuals will be asked to leave the project.
Kalamazoo is experiencing a shortage of affordable housing at a level never before seen. It is our hope that this project will bridge a gap between this crisis and the development of units for people to access. However, while HRI will work with each person to obtain housing, we cannot guarantee and do not have access to rental units on demand.
An agreement will be made between HRI and the residents that enter the pod project to establish a “code of conduct” to enhance the success of the community. We are currently speaking with people who are unhoused to determine what that will include. It is our hope that once the pod community is established, that the participants will form a resident council or a name of their choosing and establish additional guidelines and culture for the community.
Are residents expected to participate in wrap-around services? (mental health, physical health, life skills, job skills, etc.).
There will be no requirement for participants to engage in services. Services and supports will be available and offered regularly for when people choose to engage and accept them.
There will be security on site that reflects the needs of the participants to keep them protected and secure. Safety has been the number one concern we’ve heard from people from the encampment. The training and understanding of any security firm around the issues of homelessness and the specific needs of people who have been living outdoors cannot be understated. If they are identifying safety as their number one concern, it is ours also.
We look forward to some help! We plan on announcing a volunteer project to help with the pods once a site and pre-development details are confirmed. In the meantime, if you’d like to get your name on a call back list as a volunteer, please call our main number 269-382-0287 and let us know that you’d like to be added to the list to help.
We are currently raising funds for the project to purchase the pods, make site improvements, and support ongoing operations.
Here is how you can donate:
Housing Resources, Inc.
420 E. Alcott Street, Suite 200
Kalamazoo, MI 49001
HRI IN THE NEWS
Housing Resources, Inc announces “A Kzoo Pod Community – A Place of Dignity” pilot project
Development will provide housing to people experiencing homelessness in Kalamazoo
Building on thirty-nine years of experience providing solutions to homelessness in Kalamazoo County, this development will provide another housing option for people experiencing homelessness in Kalamazoo.
“A Kzoo POD Community – A Place Of Dignity” will include 50 ModPod™ units expected to be delivered hoping to beat Michigan’s hard winter temperatures and snow. Each pod can be assembled by two individuals in less than an hour. The pods — which will meet people’s most basic needs — are designed to maximize comfort while providing secure personal space. The pods are waterproof, lighted, heated, air conditioned and equipped with beds, mattresses, storage, windows, fire extinguishers and exterior bike racks.
“People deserve a place to feel safe and secure. The encampments were not safe for women, as many were victims of human trafficking, and drug use and prostitution were rampant. With this project, HRI intends to provide a secure space for women and our most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness,” said Michelle Davis, Executive Director of HRI, “We’ve listened, and we’ve heard their voices that emergency shelters are not for everyone, and we are offering another solution.”
With a national and local affordable housing crisis of historic proportions, these pods are an option for people who — for a variety of reasons — are unable to benefit from the housing options currently available.
HRI has consulted industry experts – both in- and out-of-state – to help identify proven housing solutions for people who are unsheltered. We believe that these units will meet basic needs while keeping people safe, warm, and secure as they move from unsheltered homelessness to housing.