KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A group of activists for the homeless took over a former publishing building in Kalamazoo near a homeless encampment and were vacated by police.
A group calling themselves No One Needs To Sleep Outside entered the former home of the Merchants Publishing Company, 20 Mills St., in Kalamazoo on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021, and hung banners claiming the building was vacant and it should be used to house the homeless.
The protesters were told to leave the building by Kalamazoo police, who took down the banners on the building.
The group said on Twitter that no one was arrested. Kalamazoo City Manager Jim Ritsema released a statement: “At the request of the property owners, the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety responded to 20 Mills Street and helped vacate and secure the building. We are working closely with our partners, including the Continuum of Care, to determine short and long-term housing options for our city’s vulnerable homeless population.”
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The building was located near a homeless encampment, which had an explosion because of propane tanks Jan. 24. The two-story 32,045 square-foot building was built in the 1930s and listed for sale by Jaqua Realtors. It was the former home of the Merchants Publishing Company, which was founded in 1882.
The Kalamazoo County Land Bank took over the building from foreclosure in 2015 and have worked with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, to clean up contamination at the site.