Playing the Homelessness Blame Game

The Homelessness Blame Game

This week the Supreme Court heard arguments in City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson. Their ruling won’t be released for some time, but homeless advocates throughout the country are worried because the case will determine if cities can fine or incarcerate people for being homeless and sleeping outside, even if a shelter bed or other housing is not available.  There are over 1,500 nonprofit organizations in Howard County. We are so grateful for our community of supporters who know our impact and choose to give to Bridges with your time, expertise, and financial donations.

As the court case shows, the problem of homelessness continues to be blamed on the people who are experiencing it. A disproportionate number are people of color. Lack of shelter space, affordable housing, mental health services, addiction treatment facilities, and safe places for people to stay are overlooked. Criminalization

becomes the answer. The justice system costs then soar, and the problem just gets worse.

 

Here at Bridges, we know that there are dignified and cost-effective ways to end homelessness. Maryland is one of the 9 states with the largest decrease in homelessness since 2007.  In the legislative session that just ended in Annapolis, bills were passed to invest in Mental Health resources, eviction prevention, and affordable housing for low-income households.  

 

We can do more to expand programs like Rapid Rehousing and Permanent Supportive Housing, and your support is making a difference. Please continue to partner with us to advocate for just laws for people experiencing homelessness and help us expand these successful programs.

 

And last: Don’t forget to buy your ticket for our Beans & Bags for Bridges event on May 5! This is the last week to purchase a ticket! All funds raised help us do this important work in the community.

Beans & Bags for Bridges

The day is nearly here, and the weather is clear! Join us for a great day of fun, community, and support for an end to homelessness at Beans & Bags for Bridges on May 5th, 12:30 – 3:00PM at Centennial Park, Pavilion H! Enjoy delicious chili from Absolutely Perfect Catering, compete in our friendly cornhole tournament, place your bids in our silent auction, and listen to live music by local musicians. Tickets are on sale now for in-person and carry out meals, and for teams of two in our cornhole tournament!

Logo for the Beans & Bags for Bridges event - it has a chili over flames

Client Story

From Prison to Promise

Bobby Taylor’s struggle with addiction led to serving many years in prison. Today he is a free man, employed, and looking forward to his October wedding. Learn how Bridges supported him on his journey.

Advocacy Update

Affordable Housing in Downtown Columbia Needs a Push

In 2017, the County Council and County Executive signed off on a redevelopment plan for downtown Columbia that called for the construction of over 5,000 new homes, including 900 that would be affordable for households earning low to moderate incomes. The progress to date has been disappointingly mixed.  

 

Howard Hughes Corp. agreed to create 400 affordable homes in the Merriweather District and other downtown locations. Despite widespread misinformation that Hughes is not meeting its obligations, the company is proceeding with construction and has created 52 affordable homes to date in its Juniper and Marlow developments. Additional affordable homes will come online as the buildout continues.  

 

The “Live Where You Work” program — responsible for 83 rental subsidies – has served nearly 20 households to date. This program, which is managed by the Columbia Downtown Housing Corporation and funded with development fees paid by the Howard Hughes Corp., will ramp up to serve a total of 83 households by the time all Columbia redevelopment work has been completed.  

Howard County – operating through the Housing Commission – is responsible for 417 affordable homes across five projects. The 2017 plan specified that these homes would be created in the redevelopment of the Banneker Fire Station and Central Library sites, a new library site in the Merriweather District, a new Transit Center, and the redevelopment of the Toby’s Theatre site.  

Unfortunately, all five of the Howard County projects have been stalled for several reasons, including opposition from some members of the current County Council and community members, as well as extended delays in finalizing the library and fire station sites. For some projects, the delays have led to rising cost estimates and financing gaps that the County Council has been slow to address.  

Today’s bottom line: Seven years after the commitment to a plan that would add badly needly affordable housing in downtown Columbia, all five of the County-responsible projects are stalled or are far behind schedule. 

Our community needs to get moving on adding affordable housing to downtown Columbia. If you support this position, please send an email to your council member:  

For more background:

  • See the latest annual report from the Columbia Downtown Housing Corporation. 

  • Attend an Apr. 29 webinar at 7 pm hosted by the Housing Affordability Coalition. Register here.

Donor Highlight

HCAR Cares Donates to Bridges

Bridges is honored to receive one of four grants given to local organizations this quarter by HCAR Cares, the philanthropic arm of the Howard County Association of Realtors. This wonderful group graciously awarded a total of $6,000 to Bridges, Camp Attaway, HopeWorks of Howard County, and Neighbor Ride! A special thank you to Dianne Jensen, who nominated Bridges to receive the grant and has been an incredible force for good in the Howard County community.

Volunteer Highlight

Thank you Roland!

For the past several months, Roland Brooks has interned with Bridges, assisting with marketing and finance tasks. Roland is a Marriotts Ridge High School student taking specialized Career Academy courses at the Applications and Research Lab (ARL). After his graduation on May 28, Roland will attend Stevenson University. Thank you and congratulations, Roland!

Thank You To our Sponsors

Cornhole Tournament Sponsor:
Beans, Bags & Bar Sponsor:
Ghost Pepper Sponsor:

Reid Spearman, PhD

Habañero Pepper Sponsor
Habañero Pepper Sponsor