More than $500,000 set aside in Kalamazoo to help people in need during COVID-19 pandemic

The sidewalks of the Kalamazoo Mall are empty on Thursday, March 19, 2020 as people make an effort to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (WWMT/Sarah White)

Kalamazoo set aside a large amount of money during the city commission meeting on March 16 to help those in need during the coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, pandemic.

Kalamazoo Mayor David Anderson said $250,000 of the money would come for the Foundation for Excellence and an undetermined amount would come from United Way of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. He said some money being dedicated to helping the homeless population in Kalamazoo.

"The first step we all need to work together to address is; we need to get temporary restroom facilities out there for folks with appropriate hand sanitizing in them and those should be in place soon," Anderson said.

Anderson said some of the money would be used to hire staff, security and provide meals for a new day shelter that will serve the city’s homeless population. Anderson did not name the facility they want to use as a day shelter because they are still working on an agreement, but the facility they are looking at is in walking distance of downtown Kalamazoo.

The city is also looking for a designated quarantine space if someone who is homeless in Kalamazoo was infected with COVID-19.

"These are the times when we need to care for each other and believe that together we can do this. It is so important of people in our faith community for individuals who work nonprofits, for each one of us, no matter where are you live, in an apartment, community or in our neighborhood, to see ourselves as part of a team that’s working together to find solutions," Anderson said.

A portion of the money will also go to non-profits looking to hire because of short staffing.

The city is also looking at ways to work with landlords to possibly help with rent or mortgages. He said wherever there is a need they will do their best to help.

He said everything is still in the early stages of planning.

If you need help contact United Way at the Battle Creek office at 269-962-9538 and the Kalamazoo office at 269-343-2524.

"This too shall pass, I think that is just something for all of us to remember. I know we are feeling anxious and I know the concerns are seeming on every front but what we can do is be positive, support each other and follow the guidelines to slow the spread," said Anderson.