Kalamazoo approves plan to address poverty

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — Officials in a southwest Michigan city have approved a plan that they hope will address generational poverty.

The Kalamazoo City Commission recently approved the plan that has short- and long-term goals set by the Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo initiative, the Kalamazoo Gazette reported. The plan focuses on giving all residents better access to good jobs, keeping youth healthy and promoting strong families.

“In order for us to move our community forward, we need to change all three of those things,” said Community Development Manager Dorla Bonner.

The goals were chosen after research indicated that making improvements in those areas could help reduce poverty.

The city worked with Tennessee-based Moore Strategic Consulting to create the strategy. The plan is also designed to align with other initiatives, such as Imagine Kalamazoo 2025, the city’s master plan.

Part of the plan calls for the city to invest $3 million in economic development. Officials also hope to open a financial opportunity center, improve locations for startup businesses and incentivize businesses that pay a living wage.

The city is also working with the Local Initiative Support Coalition to invest $43.5 million in economic and affordable housing programs by 2022.

The city plans to research demand for support services, such as child care and transportation. Officials will also work to raise awareness of tax assistance options.

While many of the goals are ambitious, the city is confident it will make progress because it’s working together with community partners, Bonner said.

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