Housing has become unaffordable for many people, including people who never thought they would have to worry about something as basic as a roof over their heads. There is a severe shortage of affordable housing in our community. Hundreds of school children in our county do not have a home. Each night, as many as 400 people stay in one of Kalamazoo County’s emergency shelters or on our streets.
Over 8,000 renter households in Kalamazoo have incomes lower than 30% of the area median income. For a single person this is an annual income less than $13,300 and for a family of four it is an income less that $24,300. Four thousand of these extremely low-income households pay more than half of their severely limited incomes for housing.
The problem is especially serious for families with children. A parent who works 40 hours per week must earn at least $16.85 per hour ($7.60 an hour more than minimum wage) to afford a typical two-bedroom apartment in Kalamazoo County.
Open Doors’ residents include people who are working two jobs at minimum wage but don’t earn enough to afford an apartment. Open Doors embraces women who are fleeing domestic violence and have no resources for safe housing for themselves and their children. Unemployed men and women come to Open Doors after job loss leads to the loss of their homes. Young women and men approach Open Doors for help when they simply can’t find another friend willing to take them in for the night. Mothers come in after a divorce has left them and their children without resources.
Some people come because they are ready to start new lives of recovery from drug or alcohol abuse. Others are trying to rebuild after a relationship has gone terribly wrong. Many come to Open Doors driven to desperation by the circumstances of their lives. While their circumstances are different, with affordable housing and personal support they can all reclaim their lives.