As we come to the end of 2023, I am excited about the direction Bridges is heading. We have new programs on the horizon and partnerships that will help us serve more people in the community. Earlier this year, our county’s Point in Time County reported that a smaller number of people were experiencing homelessness than in 2022. That is an encouraging contrast to the national trend of increasing homelessness. The support we receive from donors and funders, and the hard work of our staff and clients, have contributed to this success. Yet the crisis of housing instability still looms heavy, and many are struggling to remain housed. We celebrate the progress we’ve made but remain aware of the work ahead.
At the Homeless Person’s Memorial Day on December 21st, we remembered 16 individuals in Howard County who passed while experiencing homelessness or had a history of homelessness. That number is sobering. The average life expectancy of a homeless person is 42-52 years old. Decades less than the average life expectancy of other Americans. Housing can add years to a person’s life. We ask that you continue to support this important work, and consider a year-end gift if you haven’t donated yet.
Wishing you all a happy and joyous holiday season and New Year!
A Decade-Long Journey to Stability and Success
Melissa DiMartino’s long journey to Bridges to Housing Stability began more than a decade ago when virtually every aspect of her life seemed to be in ruin. The contrast between 2012 and 2023 is striking. “I never knew what life could be like in a home of our own, but today I do,” she says. Read Melissa’s story here.
Bridges Program Celebrates 10 Years of Providing Affordable Housing
The Bridges Alliance program, our primary affordable rental program, recently marked its 10th anniversary. The program now operates 53 affordable rental homes for families earning between 30-60% of area median income. Tenants work in jobs that are essential to our community, including paraeducators, nursing aides, childcare providers, restaurant managers,
and social service case workers. Nearly 80% of the households are headed by a single mother.
Tenants pay affordable rents that average 42% below our county’s market rents. During the past year, a majority have made progress on their personal goals and increased their income. And the lower rents give them extra financial capacity to address the other necessities – and niceties – of life.
As one tenant, June, says, “Without the stress and worries over a place to live and money for food, I can be the best mom for my kids.”
This holiday season, 36 households including 88 children served by Bridges received holiday gifts from several gracious organizations including Neighbor Network, Bethany Church, Pearl Smiles Dental, CB Flooring, and the Columbia Democratic Club. Their generosity in donating gifts for our clients and their children experiencing homelessness has been nothing short of incredible. Thanks to their kindness, they’ve brought warmth and joy to our families, and we’re so grateful for their generosity.
Thank you for helping Light the World
Bridges to Housing Stability was recently included in the Giving Machine by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at The Mall in Columbia. Between December 6th and 17th, the Howard County community donated 120 items totaling $5,000 to Bridges! Thanks to the generosity of our neighbors, our clients will receive cleaning supplies, microwaves, mattresses, bath towels, and extra help with their utility bills.