Getting to the Root Causes: Finding Affordable Housing with a Section 8 Voucher with a limited timeline and housing choices in Kalamazoo

Getting to the Root Causes: Finding Affordable Housing with a Section 8 Voucher with a limited timeline and housing choices in Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo, MI- The year 2021 continues to bring uncertainty to many households in Kalamazoo, specifically the home of Issa Smith.  Ms. Smith and her family are facing an eviction that was supposed to happen on December 31, 2021, but because of the holiday the courts in Kalamazoo were closed on December 30, 2021.

Gilbert Street

The modest house located on the eastside of Kalamazoo, sits on the corner quiet and still, many not knowing or understanding that everyone is not celebrating the holidays, but in survival mode for basic human needs. Decent, affordable housing like in many communities is hard to come by.

Unfortunately, many folks in Kalamazoo County, specifically Kalamazoo that have a disability (invisible or physical) and houseless suffer in silence and have no immediate family support or advocates that will speak up for them or at least that kind of support that brings about the relief that is being requested. A few days ago, there was an article that was circulated in Kalamazoo on local media that covered a local mother and her families current situation regarding their housing.

Majyck Radio went to the home of Ms. Smith,  after hosting a press conference on New Year’s Eve.

MJR: Ms. Smith, in your words, how would you summarize what is going on with you and your family?

Ms. Smith: “Illegally being evicted after discovering nonprofit landlord presidents fraud and refusing to let him and using my disabled family to commit further fraud against taxpayers and Hud Federally Funded programs.  “I refused to pay David Artley $231 in his name illegally for a tree that I did not cause to lean towards the neighbors house”. “This is unjust and to be evicted in the dead of winter with disabled children and service dogs with no where else to go makes me feel like the most worthless mother ever.

MJR: For folks that are not familiar with you, how would you describe yourself to someone that doesn’t know you?

Ms. Smith: “I would describe myself as a woman who has been disadvantaged in every way possible but refused to give up and let the people that have torn me down win”. “I am kind hearted resilient and determined to stand up for the injustices of those who are voiceless and can not speak for themselves”.

MJR: “Why should you speak up for those that are voiceless? Isn’t it about self preservation?  We are in a pandemic.

Ms. Smith: “Speaking up is the right thing to do”. “If I don’t speak up the next single mom that rents from Mr. Artley might not have the ability to fight back the way I have”. “My experience with predator individuals, they don’t care about anything but what they want, so if I don’t force myself to stand up for myself, even though it’s terrifying, I lose everything”. “Self preservation is the most dier part of this whole ordeal. “If I don’t protect my family no one else will, especially when we have a man who has made it his mission to destroy my disabled family and throw us out in the streets to freeze to death and he smiles about doing this to us because I exposed his fraud and defied him. “My family could lose everything”.

MJR: “Is this the first time you have been presented with a eviction from your current landlord”?

Ms. Smith: ” Yes”.

MJR: Do you think your current landlords perspective is representative of all landlords?

Ms. Smith: “No. I do not believe David Artley is a representative of all landlords. The landlord you met after the press conference is the complete opposite of Artley. I believe wholeheartedly that who you are as a landlord is who you are as a person. Money has a way of bringing out people’s true colors and intentions. I do not judge all landlords based on a bad one. I can honestly say I have met very few good people that are good landlords. I dream of the day I will live in a place, if I have to rent, that I will be blessed with a landlord that is caring and responsible and appreciates a tenant who respects their property.  Maintains it and treats the home like their own with care like I have 503 Gilbert Avenue.

MJR: “You have children, two boys. “How are they holding up with the current situation and dealing with the pandemic as well”?

Ms.Smith: “One of my sons even came to me and said mom, “you know I love you ,but I can’t take it anymore.  “If we end up homeless again and we did everything right I’m….(MJR edited for audience) “So not only am I facing freezing to death with my family outside I have to watch my sons so he’s ok also that’s a lot for one person.

MJR:  Sorry to hear this is challenging for your children. Do we need to stop the interview?

Ms. Smith: No, it will be fine”.

MJR: I know you are aware of many youth supports in Kalamazoo, but will put a link to a variety of youth services as the end of our interview.

Ms. Smith: “Thank you”.

MJR: “Kalamazoo County has literally thousands of nonprofit that cover a large number of social needs. From your experience, can you give our readers a short summary of the nonprofit industrial complex from your perspective?

Ms. Smith: “The nonprofit industrial complex sucks. I have only dealt with five legit nonprofits in Kalamazoo in the last 18 years. The majority of nonprofits are so corrupt they don’t help the people they receive funding for. The other sickening part of nonprofits is that many nonprofit presidents make more sitting on their butts than a hard working individual and all they have to do is “twiddle” their thumbs. They get to line their pockets with taxpayers money . I learned one very important thing dealing with nonprofit landlords and there presidents not all are the same. Some are better. Some are worse”.

MJR: What organizations have you reached out to?

Ms: Smith:  “I reached out to the Housing Commission, the city and county employees, Housing Resources, Integrative Services of Kalamazoo,Coalition for the Homeless, The Salvation Army, The YWCA, MSHDA , HUD and DHS. So far no one can help. Commissioner Rey did come to the press conference on New Years Eve.  David Artley and the Mayor have convinced everyone I destroyed the house and that I will never find another place to rent in Kalamazoo ever again”.

MJR: Have you reached out to others in Kalamazoo’s city leadership or housing/housing resource providers?

Ms. Smith: ” I don’t feel that a single official cares about what David Artley is doing and that(this sends a message that to those that may be feeling devalued and “thrown away”) the officials can harm, defraud and destroy lives and it’s ok because their abusing their positions of power”. I would like to highlight that I reached out to all of the officials and no one responded or cared. They are elected into office to stop their constituents from being harmed, but they are not. Vulnerable populations experience abuse of power  everyday are just supposed to roll over and be abused and stay silenced and not fight back and if we do we are blacklisted and ran out of Kalamazoo to keep us hidden voiceless and out of sight”.

MJR: Do you have a place to go if the eviction process moves forward?

Ms. Smith: No I do not.  I’m losing my voucher the 29th of this month because of Artley also and this illegal retaliatory eviction because I can’t find a decent landlord that  will except it. That’s why I have to raise money for a hotel. There is only one  local hotel  that can accommodate my service dogs and family . A hotel room is $110 to $190 a night for an average rated hotel.That’s $3,300 a month that’s $2,610 more for a small studio apartment style hotel room than the whole house I live in.

MJR: Ms. Smith, what can folks reading this or hearing about this do to support?

Ms. Smith: My ask is to raise money for an attorney and possible angel investors people that see our story and believe we are worth investing in.

Get a safe, habitable, suitable home of our own .

Help raising money to keep us in a hotel.

We need a reliable vehicle.  If there’s someone that has a van or tahoe that they would love to gift or at a price that could be raised. I don’t want people to give us their junk. We have respect.

We haven’t done anything wrong so we don’t want to be considered a charity case that deserves less than any housed person.

People that will help provide for my family, it takes a village.

Find other people David Artley has intimidated to give him money for things that are the landlords responsibility.

Others that may have experienced random visits to their homes that are unannounced and demanded to do an inspection of the property at early hours in the morning or late at night.

If any other tenants have been mistreated and held responsible for side payments added into their tenant rent share. Are there things that are not being fixed in their rentals.

MJR: Thank you  Ms. Smith for your courage and time. You and your family are dealing with a great deal and appreciate you sharing.

Ms. Smith: Thank you and you’re welcome.

Please click the links to below for additional information and how to support.

Click Smith Facebook fundraiser

Youth Resources for Youth in Crisis in Kalamazoo

December 15, 2021 Public Media Network coverage

December 29, 2021 Mlive

October 2018 Mlive

 

Youth Leaders ask School Board Candidates Tough Questions

Youth Leaders ask School Board Candidates Tough Questions

Engaging the under 18 crowd isn’t usually a big priority for candidates during election season. Votes win elections, and campaigns will leave no stone unturned in order to identify and appeal to voters, register eligible adults, and talk about the issues with anyone able to cast a ballot.

Education and community advocacy organization PACCT is trying to change that. Or at least, to raise awareness among candidates and the public the importance of youth –  those under 18 – as key stakeholders in any sustainable equity strategy. To further that message and help inform the community about candidates for Kalamazoo Public Schools Board of Education and where they stand on issues important to them, on Wednesday evening the group hosted a student lead and moderated School Board Candidate Forum. Participants in the forum joined virtually, while youth gathered outdoors and on site at Interfaith homes to run the show.  Of the 7 candidates for KPS’ Board of Ed who were asked to participate, Megan Maddock and Marshall Kilgore accepted the invitation to answer questions from community members live via Zoom. 

To support young leaders in the community, PACCT partnered with AIMS Kidz, a resident initiative to provide educational opportunities, meals, and activities for students who reside at Interfaith Homes. Through AIMS, PACCT was able to recruit and train over 10 KPS students to take the reins at the forum. 

Taking on the role of host, 10th grader Jamiya says that this was the first time she had ever had a public speaking role. She admits to being a little nervous about introducing the candidates and reviewing the forum rules and procedures to a live audience, but she enjoyed the experience and is looking forward to coming back for the next forum in the series (taking place on Wednesday, September 23, and again on the 30th).

Welcoming attendees, keeping the trolls away, monitoring the Zoom chat and screening questions submitted by the public were among the duties handled by Akasha, Dequariana and Aliya – and they kept busy.  For about an hour and a half, Maddock and Kilgore thoughtfully answered a steady stream of questions posed by moderators Jada and Doris on topics ranging from the School to Prison Pipeline to nutrition and of course, online learning.  Timekeeper Denisha kept the pace and made sure candidates kept to the allotted time (60 seconds) to respond. 

What did the candidates think about being on the (virtual) hot seat and grilled by teens?  Megan Maddock says she appreciated the approach, pointing out that “Students are most directly affected by decisions of the KPS board but historically have the least amount of space given to voice their input and concerns” and that student leadership “might make candidates consider how their platforms meet the needs of all young people in the district”. Similarly, Marshall Kilgore says it was “awesome to see out youth’s voices being uplifted” and says he looks forward to more opportunities to receive feedback from students and families. 

Watch the full recording of the forum below. More information on PACCT and their upcoming forums can be found on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pacct.board.5

To learn more about AIMS Kidz, go to: https://www.facebook.com/aims.kidz

 

Kalamazoo Public Schools Superintendent Interview schedule

Kalamazoo, MI-

kalamazoo Public Schools Board Trustees superintendent search is well underway and the Board will be preparing for the first round of candidates submitted by MASB, the search firm hired to scout perspective candidates for the district. All meetings are open to the public.

The Administration Building is located at 1220 Howard Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49001

Special Board meeting of the Board of Trustees regarding the superintendent search

at 6:15 p.m. on the following dates and locations:

 January 16, 2020 – West Main School Professional Development Center – Workshop for Trustees to prepare for video interviews

 January 28, 2020 – Board Room, Administration Building – Board Workshop viewing of first round video interviews

February 5, 2020 – Board Room, Administration Building – Second Round Interviews

February 6, 2020 – Board Room, Administration Building – Second Round Interviews 

February 18, 2020 – Board Room, Administration Building – Finalists interviews

February 19, 2020 – Board Room, Administration Building – Finalists interviews (possible board decision date)

February 25, 2020 – Board Room, Administration Building – alternate board decision date

Not Your Typical Walk in the Park in Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo, MI-
Maria and Lauren
Two of the seven seats on the Kalamazoo Public School District school board are up for general election on November 8, 2016. Incumbent Jennie Hill filed for re-election, while fellow board member Martha Warfield opted against seeking a new term. Challengers Maria Bosnak, Lauren Freedman, Jesse Herron, Paul Marquardt, and George White will be joined on the ballot.

Bosnak and Freedmen were joined by Michigan United Organizer,Elisheva Johnson, Vice Mayor Don Cooney to publicly pledge their endorsement to run. Marcy Peake, former Kalamazoo School Board Member shared a few words on her experience and knowledge and “passing” the baton to Lauren Freedman, recently retired Professor of Literacy Studies at Western Michigan University.

To find out more about these candidates: Maria Bosnak
Lauren Freedman

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Hear what the candidates have to say below:

City Of Kalamazoo 2013 Municipal Election, November 5, 2013

Kalamazoo, MI–Tuesday morning, voters will have an opportunity to vote for their local representation  including Kalamazoo, Portage, South Haven and Three Rivers.

Poll stations in SW Michigan
Poll stations throughout SW Michigan

 Commissioners are elected every two years on a non-partisan basis. All seven city commission seats are open. Candidates with the most votes will become mayor and vice mayor, respectively.  Six out of seven incumbents are running for this years election.

In Portage, six candidates are seeking to fill three four-year council seats. The mayoral postition for Portage is also available, but Mayor Pete Strazdas is running unopposed.

In Parchment, there are four candidates for four seats on the Parchment City Commission — incumbents Terry Hageman, Vice Mayor Robert Britigan III and Thomas Balmer, as well as Jon Heasley, son of Mayor Robert Heasley.

Other  ballot initiatives in Southwest Michigan include:

  • Centreville: Centreville Public Schools officials are asking voters to approve a $12.8 million bond proposal that would pay for facility upgrades and repairs. If approved, the district’s current debt levy of 4 mills would increase to 6.95 mills starting in 2015 and stay near that level until starting to drop in 2028. It would be paid off in 2035.

  • Constantine: Constantine Public Schools officials are asking voters to approve a $6.62 million bond issue to upgrade the middle school. Also on the ballot is a request to renew the district’s 18-mill non-homestead tax. If approved, the bond issue would not involve a tax increase, and voters would continue to pay the current debt levy of 6.8 mills.

  • Three Rivers: Three Rivers Mayor Tom Lowry is seeking an eighth term and faces a challenge from newcomer Larry Nichols. Linda Gearhart will challenge incumbent Larry Matson for a two-year term as the city’s at-large commissioner. Incumbent Jared Hoffmaster and newcomer Diane Lee Haley-Clay are uncontested for the first and third district commissioner seats, respectively.

  • South Haven: South Haven Mayor Robert Burr is seeking re-election to a third two-year term. His opponent, Frank Consolino, has pleaded guilty to three felony charges of marijuana distribution and is scheduled to be sentenced the day before the election. If he receives prison or jail time he would be ineligible to serve as mayor because he would be unable to fulfill his duties, according to South Haven Clerk Amanda Morgan.

Polls will be open Tuesday, Nov. 5, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Check online at www.michigan.gov/vote to see a sample ballot and to determine their polling place.

Voters Held To The Polls Today To Vote On Mileage Increase

Today, hundreds of taypayers will head to the polls to vote on a number of proposed taxes to better serve the community.

Residents in the Kalamazoo, Delton Kellogg, Marcellus and Lawrence school districts will vote whether to increase property taxes to improve school facilities.

The Kalamazoo County Transportation Authority is requesting a 0.4-mill levy for operations, and seven area school districts — Mattawan, Vicksburg, Three Rivers, Gobles, White Pigeon, Edwardsburg and Cassopolis — are requesting renewal of their 18-mill nonhomestead tax, which is levied on commercial property and does not affect owner-occupied homes.

Nearby,  elections in the cities of Bangor, Otsego and Sturgis and in Allegan County’s Cheshire Township as happening today as well.

Check the link to stay informed of proposals on the ballot.

PROPOSALS APPEARING ON THE MAY 7 BALLOT

 

VOTE

The time is now!! Make your voice be heard today in this year’s presidential election!! Let’s ROCK 2012!!

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