Get Ready to Spice Things Up

Join Us at Beans & Bags for Bridges!

We’re a little more than one month away from our Beans & Bags for Bridges event on Sunday, May 5. I’m excited about expanding the event this year to Centennial Park, with a bigger Cornhole Tournament and children’s activities! Get your ticket, join us as a sponsor, or make a donation here. The funds we raise through our events are essential to our work at Bridges. We use these unrestricted funds to fill the gaps that most grants don’t cover. The gaps include operating costs like our phone, insurance, and utilities at the office, and our amazing volunteer coordinator. Our 150+ volunteers each year help us to do so much more and make a bigger impact in every aspect of our work.

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.

 

I hope you all are enjoying this beautiful spring & hope to see you May 5th at Beans & Bags for Bridges!

Executive Director Jennifer Broderick

Program Update

Rent Reporting Service Will Build Clients' Credit

Poor credit is a significant barrier to self-sufficiency for families that earn moderate and low incomes. Whether caused by unwise financial decisions or unplanned emergencies such as large medical debts, poor credit often prevents families from taking life-changing steps to improve their situation. Potential landlords use low credit scores to justify rejecting tenant applicants outright or requiring a larger security deposit as a condition of acceptance. Banks are reluctant to approve mortgage loans for families with poor credit; if approved, the loans usually carry a higher interest rate. Even finding a better job is more difficult with poor credit, because many employers run credit checks on prospective employees.

 

To address these barriers, Bridges has introduced a rent-reporting service to help improve the credit scores of clients in our affordable housing programs. The opt-in service reports positive on-time payments to the three major credit bureaus, which over time will increase clients’ credit scores. When the service launched on March 13 with Bridges’ rent reporting partner, RentPlus, many expressed excitement. One client said, “The information I heard thus far sounds like it will be beneficial for me. I look forward to seeing the benefits from it in the near future.”

 

We are grateful for a grant from the Credit Builders Alliance that supported the launch of this new service.  

Donor Highlight

Renovation with Heart

Thanks to a generous donation from Kelly Baumgartner, our clients have received invaluable support during their transition into new homes. Kelly’s decision to donate dozens of items, including furniture, art, portable cooking appliances, and dishware, has made a significant impact on our ability to provide essential household items to those in need. One particular client was fortunate to receive six pieces of furniture, ensuring they have a comfortable living space. Bridges is deeply grateful for Kelly’s kindness and for our entire community’s ongoing support of our clients.

Funder Highlight

Lighting the World in Howard County

Bridges is incredibly grateful to have been part of the 2023 MidAtlantic Light the World Giving Machine hosted at The Mall in Columbia in December. We are especially grateful for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and their hard work to bring the event to Howard County. From December 6 to December 17, the Howard County community donated over $5,000 to Bridges to support our clients with:

 

  • 39 utility bill payments

  • 30 sets of bath towels

  • 22 sets of cleaning supplies

  • 15 mattresses

  • 14 microwaves

Bridges staff Jennifer Broderick, Sam Dixon, Emily Brandon, Meagan Lohin, and Chrissy Wilson with the donation cards from the 2023 GIving Machine event.

In addition to supporting Bridges, community members also supported Grassroots Crisis Intervention, Lutheran Immigration & Referral Service, Salvation Army of Central Maryland, and Digital Harbor Foundation by donating organization-specific items to support their clients. Thank you to everyone who chose to support Bridges and the other incredible nonprofits during the holiday season – your impact will be felt throughout the community!

Advocacy Update

Lack of Affordable Housing Slows Maryland's Economic Growth

A Maryland Comptroller’s report on the state of Maryland’s economy concludes that a lack of affordable housing statewide has depressed Maryland’s economic growth and spurred out-migration to less expensive states. The report is another reminder that our state and local housing policies must be reformed so that we can produce more housing to meet the demands of our workforce.

Want to learn more or work for change?  

 

House next to coin stacks with people cut-outs on them.

Below are excerpts of key housing-related comments in the report:

  • Recent fluctuations in Maryland’s economic environment serve as flashing yellow lights for the state’s fiscal health… People are moving to Maryland from states with higher costs of living, but more Marylanders are moving away to states where cost of living is even lower. Low availability of affordable housing for lower and middle-income households appears to be the primary driver …

  • … [I]n a properly functioning market, an increase in demand that causes prices and profits to rise in the short run will trigger an increase in supply in the long run. However, U.S. housing starts … have not grown in response to higher prices. Housing starts in 2022 were 1.6 million for the year and 5.8% lower than in 1999, before the housing boom and bust of 2000 to 2010, despite considerable population and price growth over this time.

  • Restricting housing supply in high-productivity cities leads to an increase in property values, and it is therefore in the rational self-interest of current property owners to seek such restrictions. However, the social costs of these private gains are immense, particularly when one considers that higher-income neighborhoods have greater access to a range of benefits, including quality public schools, better government services, healthier environments, and more green spaces. Restricting the ability of people to move into these communities also exacerbates the de facto racial and class segregation created and reinforced by 20th-century urban development and housing policies.

Beans & Bags for Bridges

Join us for an unforgettable 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!

Bridges is excited to bring back our children’s art project! Children attending the Beans & Bags for Bridges will have the opportunity to create art with the theme “Everyone in Howard County Deserves a Home.” Art will be displayed at the Miller Branch Library throughout November in honor of Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, held each year during the week before Thanksgiving.

 

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

For more information about sponsoring or getting your congregation involved, visit our website or contact Emily Brandon at emily@bridges2hs.org or 410-312-5760 ext. 106.

Thank You To our Sponsors

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

Reid Spearman, PhD