Housing Costs Continue to Destabilize Families
Housing costs are an inescapable factor in our organizational mission and daily work. Housing is the biggest expense in most peoples’ budgets, so when housing gets more expensive, more families have trouble juggling their bills – including the rent. Overdue rent makes them subject to legal action, which is potentially followed by eviction and homelessness. Eviction prevention and rehousing of households becomes more expensive because these costs have increased so dramatically.
It’s no consolation, but Howard County isn’t alone in experiencing rapidly rising housing costs. The latest State of the Nation’s Housing report was released last week by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. A few sobering statistics:
- U.S. home prices have risen 37% since the beginning of 2020. That’s great news for homeowners ready to cash out, but the high prices make homeownership even less accessible for families with moderate or lower incomes.
- Over 21 million households are now paying unaffordable rents. Of these households, 11.6 million are severely cost-burdened, meaning they pay over 50% of gross income on rent.
- The supply of low-cost rental homes continues to decline. Nearly 4 million such homes have been lost in the last decade, which is associated with a 35% nationwide increase in unsheltered homelessness since 2015.
Rising housing costs make our work much more challenging, but this month we also celebrated the Summer Solstice Success Celebration on June 21, honoring all those who overcame homelessness during the past year. Bridges has rehoused 54 households in that time. For each of the individuals in these households, life is safer, healthier, and more comfortable. These successes give our staff the energy and encouragement to keep persevering with their amazing work. We thank you for your partnership and your support as we scale the mountain (housing costs) before us.
Jen Broderick, LCSW
Housing Stability Support Program
The Housing Stability Subsidy Program (HSSP) provides long-term subsidized housing and case management for individuals who have exhausted all other programs in Howard County and still struggle with housing stability. The program was launched in 2013 with 17 households and today supports 23 households. The program is a permanent housing solution, meaning that clients can remain for as long as they need services and meet program requirements.
Danielle Winston (pictured at right), joined the program in 2017. She works tirelessly to help her clients become more independent, rebuild relationships with families and support networks, create household budgets, and develop positive relationships with landlords. Through her connections with community partners such as Making Change, Tower Federal Credit Union, and Waystation, she helps clients overcome barriers to housing stability.
Danielle is quite busy these days, as 10 of her HSSP clients are now in the process of transitioning to the next step. They no longer need intensive case management, and they have demonstrated that they can manage their own bills, maintain communication with their property manager or landlord, and take care of their homes. Soon, their housing costs will be subsidized through housing vouchers, and they will become clients of the Housing Commission of Howard County.
Affordable, Stable Housing is a Life-Changer
In 2019, when Kevonne was about to give birth to her second child, her relationship with the father ended, and she began looking for an apartment. Even then, before the pandemic, she quickly realized she would not be able to afford anything more than a one-bedroom unit.
But then she found a listing on Zillow for an affordable two-bedroom apartment in Columbia. The landlord was Bridges to Housing Stability. Read more of Kevonne’s story here.
Harriet Bachman has volunteered with Bridges for 20 years. In addition to serving as a Board member for 9 years (the term limit), she was a founding member of our Program Committee, which provides regular opportunities for staff members and community advocates to examine how our client services can be improved.
In addition to her work with Bridges, Harriet has also volunteered for Catholic Charities, Grassroots, and My Sister’s Place. When asked why she has stayed at Bridges for so long, she responded, “I stay because I believe it is a good organization. It’s small enough to be good quality, but big enough to make a difference. I’m very impressed with the staff.”
In her free time, Harriet enjoys working with her synagogue, walking, swimming, and traveling. She has recently traveled to Japan, Los Angeles, Hawaii and Mexico! Harriet also enjoys spending time with her three children and four grandchildren.
We are so grateful that Harriet continues to devote time to Bridges and our clients.
Sheehy Toyota Birdies for Bridges Golf Tournament
We are excited to announce that limited golf foursomes and individual spots are now available for the 2nd annual Sheehy Toyota Birdies for Bridges Golf Tournament. So, grab your clubs and join us for a round of golf in support of a great cause on Sept. 22 at The Timbers at Troy Golf Course. Whether you are an avid golfer or a novice enthusiast, this event promises to be a memorable event.
Sponsorships are still available! This is a great opportunity for organizations and businesses that want to make a positive impact in our community. We offer various sponsorship packages tailored to suit your organization’s needs.
We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the sponsors who have already partnered with us to make this event possible: Sheehy Toyota Laurel, Howard Hughes, Assured Partners, Dresner Group, Slack Funeral Home, Absolutely Perfect Catering and Events, Weinberg, Griffith, Tucker, Jones & Talesnik, P.A., and Team Kinnear.
To secure your spot today, and find more information about sponsorship opportunities, golf registration and the day’s schedule, visit the Birdies website: www.birdease.com/bridges2hs.