Achieving Affordable Housing
This month, I am happy to share the good news of the purchase of our 50th rental home for our Alliance Program. This program provides below market-rate rental housing to families in Howard County. Why is this so important? Howard County has a shortage of approximately 7,500 affordable rentals for low-income households. This stark gap in housing availability is why Bridges’ work to end homelessness through affordable housing is so critically important. Safe and secure housing can make or break a person’s life. Gary’s story, featured later in the newsletter, demonstrates how a job loss can spiral downward to homelessness. Fortunately for Gary and many other people, Bridges can assist people in turning their lives around with case management, financial assistance and educational workshops.
I hope you enjoy reading more Alliance’s history since its inception in 2013. It has been a remarkable journey! I also hope you will support our work by contributing to the Spring Campaign for Affordable Housing. More information about the campaign is available in this newsletter. Thank you for the many ways you support our mission to end homelessness through affordable housing solutions and advocacy.
Jen Broderick, LCSW
Job Loss and Homelessness
Resilience is perhaps the word that best describes Gary, 64, whose painful knees along with the pandemic cost him his warehouse job. The loss of his job led to his eviction and a year-long period wandering the streets. “I was trying to work,” the former truck driver and warehouse worker said, “but after Covid, they let me go. That’s what put me on the street.” Read more about Gary’s journey.
Learn More about HoCo’s Housing Crisis
Housing costs in Howard County continue to overburden the financial capacity of many families. Below are the current median rents for apartments in the county.
As a result of the high prices, nearly 7,000 families are now “severely cost-burdened” – meaning their rent consumes over 50% of their gross income. These families face a daily struggle with housing instability. A single emergency or illness can mean the loss of their home.
Want to get involved?
- To learn more about the housing crisis, we recommend this 3-minute read: Howard County’s Housing Crisis – and Solutions, published by the Housing Affordability Coalition.
- Join the Housing Affordability Coalition
- Add your voice to the campaign for more affordable housing by signing this petition to support increased funding for housing initiatives.
Alliance Program Celebrates 50th Affordable Rental Home
The Alliance Program was launched in 2014 with a mission to address Howard County’s 7,500-unit shortage of affordable rental homes for low- and moderate-income families. A program that started with one rental home has now crossed the 50-unit mark and continues to expand.
The program provides below-market rental homes along with case management, financial assistance, and educational workshops focused on health & well-being, employment/career, homeownership, and financial literacy (budgeting, debt, credit, saving and investing).
Most Alliance tenants work in essential but lower-paid jobs, including para-educators, certified nursing aides, caseworkers, restaurant servers, retail workers, and medical coders.
Who does the program serve?
- 154 individuals, including 70 children
- 62% of households are headed by single moms
- 24% of households have one or more family members with a disability
- Average household income is $53,222
The table below shows the average rents paid by tenants, and a comparison to market rents.
The program provides a solid foundation for clients’ success:
- 100% of households remain stably housed beyond 18 months in the program
- 54% of households increased their income in the last year
We are proud of the program’s success but remain focused on continuing to expand the amount of affordable housing in Howard County. Our community desperately needs more.
Spring Appeal for Affordable Housing
A Stable Home Makes Everything Better
Because of people like you, Bridges can tackle the tough issues faced by low- and moderate-income people by providing housing that is safe, secure, and affordable. Although you and I may take it for granted, the opportunity to remain stably housed is essential for the health and well-being of adults and especially children. Please support our Spring Campaign to provide affordable housing and services to people who are homeless, at imminent risk of homelessness or low-income. Your gift will make a big difference in the lives of others. Click here to make an online contribution. Thank you for your support.
Shout Out to Girl Scouts Service Unit 654
Thank you to Girl Scouts Service Unit 654 for delivering 22 buckets and 2 boxes of supplies for our Welcome Home Basket Campaign!
Many families that struggle to make ends meet and provide for basic daily needs such as stable housing, food, health care, transportation, and other critical living expenses have scant financial resources for the host of basic household essentials that the Girl Scouts generously provided. Providing these basic household essentials to families whose finances are already stretched to the limit improves their financial stability and helps them turn their houses into homes.
Because of the hard work and effort these Girl Scouts put into organizing this drive, many our clients won’t need to make tough decisions about altering their eating habits to afford non-food items or delaying hygiene habits and increasing potential risks to the health and well-being of their households. In short, these girls pulled together as a team of dedicated volunteers to make a big difference in the lives of their neighbors who are working hard to maintain the financial stability of their households.