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 in late November 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.

This pilot is a partnership between HRI and the City of Kalamazoo with support from the Kalamazoo County Housing Director, and the Continuum of Care. A site and operational plan with additional partners is being finalized and we look forward to sharing more details soon.

FAQs

What is the purpose of the “Kzoo POD Community: Place of Dignity”?

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.

Who purchased the pods?

HRI has ordered and placed a deposit on the purchase on the pods using HRI funds from LIT Solutions based in Portland, OR. No government or other funding sources have been used towards this purchase. However, HRI is actively fundraising for the project including the costs of the pods.

How many pods are there?

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.

How long does it take to build a pod?

The pods take approximately one (1) hour each to be assembled by two (2) people.

Do they have bathrooms and showers?

The pods do not have bathrooms, showers, or running water. Resources will be available on-site to meet the need for toileting, personal hygiene, laundry, and food.

Do the pods have heat and air conditioning and electricity?

Yes, the pods are equipped with heat, air conditioning and electricity.

Can people prepare food in the pods?

No. Accommodations will be provided for food to be available on-site with access to proper refrigeration and cooking facilities.

Do the pods have windows?

Yes, the pods have windows.

Can you lock the pod?

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.

Where will they be located?

A potential site has been identified located at 322 E. Stockbridge Avenue, Kalamazoo. We are in the process of completing due diligence including an assessment of needed site improvements and a lease agreement before the site location is finalized. This site provides both outdoor space for the placement of the pod community and indoor space for toileting, personal hygiene, laundry, and food, offices, and donations. Privacy and safety are our priorities.

Will HRI have staff on site at the project?

HRI will have staff on site at the project twenty-four (24) hours a day.

What services will be available to people at the pods?

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.

How will the neighbors be informed of location of pods?

Prior to any announcement or notification to the public of a potential site, and once we identified the 322 E. Stockbridge location, HRI contacted the Edison Neighborhood Association (where the potential site is located) to inform them that we were looking at the site for the project. HRI has offered to provide additional information, attend a meeting with board members or provide other means to communicate information about the project.

When will people be able to move into the pods?

The pods are scheduled for delivery in late December with manufacturing and delivery highly dependent on the current supply chain and shipping delays. A site must also be secured first, and

any site improvement be completed. Upon delivery of the pods, 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.

How does HRI select who gets to live in a pod?

HRI is working with the Continuum of Care (CoC) and its Outreach Committee to develop a process for people to become a resident in the pod project. The outreach teams in Kalamazoo County have and continue to provide an invaluable service to our people who are unsheltered. Their expertise in helping us identify the initial residents for the project is needed.

Can a child live with a parent in the pod?

The pod project is not designed for children. Only adults will be permitted into the pod project.

How much does it cost to live in a pod with HRI?

There is no cost to live in a pod.

Is there a lease 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 regularly talking 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.

Is there extra storage for personal things besides inside the pod?

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.

Are pets allowed in the pods?

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.

How long can you stay in a pod?

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.

Do you get permanent housing after you leave the pod?

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.

What are the rules to this Pod Community?

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.

Is there security on site?

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.

How do I volunteer to help build the pods?

We look forward to some help! We plan on announcing a volunteer project to help assemble the pods in December. 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.

How do I donate money or goods for the Pod Project?

We are currently raising funds for the project to purchase the pods, make site improvements, and support ongoing operations.

If you would like to invite us to apply for a grant or funds from your organization or company, please email gbarnum@housingresourcesinc.org or mdavis@housingresourcesinc.org.

If you or your company would like to sponsor a POD, a POD neighborhood or the POD community, contact gbarnum@housingresourcesinc.org or mdavis@housingresourcesinc.o

Here is how you can donate:

By Mail: 
Housing Resources, Inc.
420 E. Alcott Street, Suite 200
Kalamazoo, MI 49001

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