KPEP/Kalamazoo Land Bank/Kalamazoo County Treasurer Partnership

The second vocational training track, Building Trades, kicked off on August 8, 2017 and is in the building trades field. This six week programming is targeted at those residents who desire work in the construction, building and maintenance fields.

A combination of classroom instruction and hands on experience will pave the way for residents to enhance their skills and gain necessary experience to be successful in the job market. Topics covered throughout the six weeks include: site inspection and set up, safety, basic construction math, CPR/First Aid certification and OSHA10 Construction Certification.

KPEP already had a partnership with the Kalamazoo County Land Bank to provide lawn maintenance and landscaping at empty homes and parcels owned by the Land Bank. That partnership was expanded in August to include the rehabilitation of two vacant homes located on East Main Street in Kalamazoo. The rehab project provided KPEP participants a chance to put their skills to use.

“These homes have been the perfect location for Building Trades Program participants to gain hands on experience in the field,” said Bill DeBoer, KPEP president and CEO. “Participants have learned about site assessment, they have learned how to develop a list of projects to be completed, and they have gained skills in physically completing the projects.”

Projects at the home include repairing ceilings and drywall; installing new lights; replacing floor; demolition; installing toilets, cabinets, sinks, countertops and faucets; installing new switch plates and outlet covers; and where necessary even installing GFI outlets.

“The Land Bank is truly grateful for the rehab partnership with KPEP,” said Mary Balkema, Kalamazoo County Treasurer and Land Bank Board Chair. “The vision, mission and skill set provided by KPEP was a perfect fit for our homes needing rehab.”

Once the houses are complete, the Land Bank plans to put them on the market. The program is a win for everyone. The Land Bank is able to get the houses back into use, a family can secure housing, the homes are no longer vacant and blighted, the county will receive income from property taxes and our residents are gaining experience to use in the work force.