City Commission Approves Emergency Housing Ordinance

The City Commission approved an Emergency Housing Ordinance at its December 6, 2021 meeting. The Ordinance allows for the development of temporary housing in the City of Kalamazoo and outlines the parameters required for its development. This Ordinance does not pick the locations where it may occur; but outlines HOW it can occur. Housing providers would be responsible for proposing locations, applying for permits, and hosting a public informational meeting prior to the development of this type of housing.

pdf Emergency Housing Ordinance (864 KB)

pdf FAQ Emergency Housing Ordinance (144 KB)

pdf Application for Temporary Emergency Housing (202 KB)

You can watch the City Commission discussion and vote below: 



The Emergency Housing Ordinance includes the following provisions:


Permits are required from the City to open an emergency housing facility. The Emergency Housing Facility Permit requires the housing provider to do the following:

  1. Submit a complete application ( pdf Application for Temporary Emergency Housing (202 KB) ) to Community Planning & Economic Development (CPED), including the following:
    • Facility Plan
    • Draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City and property owner (if different than the housing provider or City).
    • Public Meeting Information
  2. Attend the review of the application at a Projects Meeting. Revisions to the application may be required before the review process is completed.
  3. Work with the City Attorney and City Manager’s office to review the MOU. Revisions to the MOU may be required before it is finalized.
  4. Host a public informational meeting, inviting the neighborhood association and adjacent neighbors, at a minimum to provide detailed information on the proposed housing and answer questions and concerns.

The Emergency Housing Facility Permit may be approved after the application is determined to meet the permit requirements and after a public informational meeting is held. Additional permits and review periods for utilities or other development elements may be required. The facility will be inspected by City staff prior to opening.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

The Emergency Housing Facility Permit application includes an MOU between the housing provider, the City, and the property owner (if the property owner is a 3rd party). The MOU outlines how the housing will be developed, administered, managed, and enforced. The MOU is a binding agreement between the housing provider and the City. Failure to follow the provisions in the MOU could lead to termination of the permit and the emergency housing being provided. The MOU includes items such as the following:

  1. On-site social services and support systems
  2. Plan for management, operations, and community living guidelines, including:
    • Length of stay
    • Termination of occupancy policy
    • Warning and infraction policy
    • Alcohol and drug use policy
    • Guest policy
    • Bicycle and vehicle allowance and policy
    • Pet allowances, including type, number, pet registration, and/or veterinary care
    • Quiet hours
    • Security
    • Building and property maintenance between occupants and during long term stays
    • Maintenance of the site during inclement weather
  3. Anti-discrimination policy
  4. Acknowledgement of termination date for emergency housing
  5. Provision for periodic inspections by City Staff

Emergency Housing Development Standards

The emergency housing will be developed using the standards in the Ordinance, which includes such items as the following:

  1. Compliance with the City’s Code of Ordinances
  2. Housing, driveways, walkways, and parking areas must be on an improved surface.
  3. Setbacks between housing of 10’ and around the perimeter of the lot of 20’.
  4. Lockable doors and windows with a master key accessible to emergency services and service providers.
  5. Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in each building
  6. Cooking limited to buildings with access to water, sewer, and electrical utilities
  7. Outdoor storage of personal items is not permitted
  8. Housing occupancy is based on the manufactures’ specifications

The above must be detailed in the Emergency Housing Facility Permit application along with the Facility Plan, which includes the following:

  1. Site layout (dimensioned)
    • housing with individual unit addresses
    • service structures with individual addresses
    • driveway access & parking, including vehicle & bike, staff and guest parking
    • landscaping, screening, & fencing
    • lot setbacks
    • existing buildings within twenty feet of the facility’s property
    • adjacent streets and transit facilities.
  2. Security plans, including on-site staff and physical site improvements
  3. Emergency service plan, including site map(s) and installation locations, master key access, and emergency access
  4. Table with number of shelter units, size of unit, occupancy, amenity structures, & fixture count
  5. Building systems approval report (or equivalent), floor plans, and/or manufactured specifications for shelters and amenity structures

City of Kalamazoo

Home to the Kalamazoo Promise, three institutions of higher education, two nationally recognized healthcare systems, cutting-edge medical research, world-class brewing and dining, outstanding parks, and an extensive variety of music, art, theatre, and cultural attractions.

 (269) 337-8000
 (269) 337-8182
 241 West South Street
     Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Keep in Touch