Kalamazoo County public aid and Human Services.

Low income residents of Kalamazoo County can look into a number of public aid programs for their basic needs. The county and the Human Services department provide help to income qualified families, and there are additional programs for the disabled, senior citizens, and unemployed in Kalamazoo. The aid, such as food stamps or cash assistance from TANF, will be combined with ongoing case management and social support from DHS to ensure the client is on the path to self-sufficiency.

Partnering with the the state of Michigan public housing authority (PHA) the county offers very low income families information on HUD section 8 vouchers. This is a very limited resource and will often have a waiting list in place.

For those families that are able to enroll into section 8, including single parents and households with a disabled member, they will need to pay a portion of their income for their rent, and it is usually 30%. The balance that is due each month will be paid by public assistance. The client will be able to select their own apartment or home to live in, provided it meets standards of PHA.

Public funds can be used to relocate families to more affordable housing as well. Kalamazoo Human Services can provide funds for a security or utility deposit, as well as first months rent. The goal is to allow residents to access more affordable housing or apartments.

There are other government supported housing and rent programs in Kalamazoo County. They include grants for paying rent from ESG, housing for seniors or the disabled, shelter, and support for veterans, namely the SSVF program. All of these will be combined with social services to address the cause of the struggle.

The more traditional public assistance, now known as TANF, is available as cash grant for residents that are participating in work training type programs. It is a time limited resource, and the amount of aid paid out to each participant will decrease over time, and end after up 5 years.

TANF may allow funds for paying for items needed for work, such as clothing or transportation. There is also public aid for food, energy bills, housing or rent, and other needs. Another focus is on family’s with young children or pregnant mothers as well.




Disability services are available in Kalamazoo County from the local federal government offices of the Social Security Administration. There is a formal application process in place, with support needed from a medical professional and others. Many people will need to attend a hearing in order to apply.

If approved, residents of Kalamazoo County may be enrolled into Supplemental Security Income, which is also known as Title XV. They will be provided a small monthly benefit that can be used to pay for their living expenses. Another option is SSDI, or Social Security Disability Insurance. This too will provide support.

Vouchers to pay for childcare are available. This public assistance from Kalamazoo County Department of Human Services will pay a portion of costs, and the amount provided to the parent will be based on their household income and a sliding fee scale.

The goal of the child care program is to pay a portion of the expenses involved in caring for the child either before or after school, and in particular while the parent is at work or in job training. There may be exceptions made for a disabled child or other special circumstances, however the goal is to provide support to the parent while they gain self-sufficiency.

Human services has a few different food programs in place, as noted below. They include the following.

  • SNAP - This is the food stamp program, and each family will be given a EBT debit card to use for paying for some of their groceries.
  • TEFAP - Emergency Food Assistance - The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides Kalamazoo County DHS with surplus commodities, which are then distributed to senior citizens or children in the county.
  • WIC - Free baby formula, nutritional advice, and other support is for pregnant mothers and newborn babies.





There are several other benefits available in Kalamazoo County, and in some cases DHS can process applications for them, or in other cases they will just offer referrals. Some of the commonly requested programs are as follows.

  • Savings on Telephone bills is available from Lifeline.
  • Medicaid is for low income families, and offer medical and dental assistance.
  • Community clinics, which social services will have referrals to, can provide help with other basic health care needs.
  • Home repairs, including for energy needs, such as a furnace.
  • The NACO prescription discount card provides savings on medications, and it is free to sign up for.
  • Grants for paying utility bills is part of LIHEAP, the nation’s primary publicly funded energy program.
    Burial costs can be paid for the indigent, and this is a benefit in Michigan.

Many other services are available to the very low income in the county. For more information, including on eligibility, call Kalamazoo County Human Services or stop by the office for intake.

The main address of DHS in Kalamazoo is 322 E. Stockbridge Ave., and the phone number is 269-337-4900.



By Jon McNamara

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