Latest Community Indicators Highlight Housing
The Association of Community Services recently published its annual Self-Sufficiency Indicators report, which is always an excellent source of data about the economic stability of Howard County residents. The report, available here, confirms the trends we see in our daily work:
- Families with children struggle if they earn less than the area’s median income. A family with only one child needs at least $75,000 of income to meet basic needs, and with more children, more income is needed.
- Over 20% of children in single-mother households live in poverty.
- High housing costs continue to impact the most vulnerable residents. There are no affordable apartments available for about 7,500 households.
- 45 percent of renter households are now cost-burdened. About half of these households pay more than 50 percent of gross income on rent.
- The senior population – which is growing rapidly as a percentage of the county’s overall population — is being impacted by high housing costs, too. The lack of affordable housing for seniors earning below $30,000 is particularly acute.
At a time when so many of our neighbors are economically vulnerable, the Bridges staff remains focused on our mission to prevent and end homelessness … and so grateful for your support of our work.
Jen Broderick, LCSW
Carmen’s Journey from “Homeless and Hopeless”
For this month’s client story, we offer a video about Carmen Jones, who rents an affordable home through our Alliance program.
The video, created as part of our advocacy work with the Housing Affordability Coalition, highlights the housing challenges experienced by members of HoCo’s lower-wage workforce. Carmen speaks candidly about the struggles of homelessness and the transformational benefits she has experienced since regaining her housing stability. She is living proof that a stable home provides an essential foundation for success. We thank Carmen for her courage in sharing her story with us.
Bridges Hosts Training Session for Case Managers
The Housing Stability Program team hosted a training event last month for our community’s case managers. These regular events – held in collaboration with Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center, Springboard Community Services, and the Dept. of Community Resources and Services – started with an audience of 15 participants. Attendance has now grown to over 50!
The April session included participants from the Howard County Public Schools, Housing Commission, Columbia Housing Center, Department of Social Services, and Department of Community Resources and Services. The session covered topics including the Coordinated Entry System process, eviction prevention, consulting cases, and locating affordable housing.
Said one attendee, “The more organizations that know each other, what they do, and how to connect – the better it is for all!”
Bridges will continue to host these events because they develop the skills of case managers across the county – and lead to better services for vulnerable clients.
The County Council will hold four public hearings over the next few months as it considers HoCo by Design, the update to Howard County’s general plan. The final vote is expected in October. The result will be a new set of policies governing land-use — including the maximum number of new homes constructed each year — as well as updates to our environment, transportation system, and job-creation plans.
Current county policies restrict the number of new homes each year to a level that is well below the needs of our growing work force. Howard Country produces far fewer homes per worker than any neighboring community, which creates housing scarcity and a fierce competition for rentals and for-sale homes. As a result, rents and home prices continue to increase faster than wages, which creates more housing insecurity for already vulnerable members of our community.
Want to advocate for solutions to our housing crisis? Contact the Howard County Housing Affordability Coalition.
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