The pandemic has dictated many changes to our Chili & Challenge event over the past two years, but once again, for this year’s event (Oct. 10) we received abundant support from volunteers, congregations, individual donors, and sponsors. Their contributions made the event a tremendous success. Thank you so much to everyone who helped.
The changes to the event’s format led me to reflect on the changes in the state of rental housing in Howard County. About 30,000 households in our community rent their homes, and 7,000 of them are severely cost-burdened, meaning that they spend more than 50% of their gross income for housing costs. Many such households, impacted by income losses due to the pandemic, are teetering on the brink.
Bridges is one of several partners in the county that is providing rental assistance to households affected by COVID-19. The financial assistance has kept eviction rates lower than pre-pandemic levels – for now. Courts have recently reopened and evictions resulting from late rent payments have restarted. We hope that the continuing availability of rental assistance funds will keep eviction rates low.
Average rental prices have jumped in some Howard County communities by almost $200 per month since 2019. Rent increases place an even larger cost burden on households each month and make renting unattainable for our lowest-income clients who are experiencing homelessness. The result is that more households are unstable and more remain in shelter or in unsafe places.
To solve homelessness and housing instability in Howard County, we need to expand the supply of affordable housing for low-income, working households – for the childcare providers, para-educators, nursing assistants, and many other essential workers in our community.
Please consider filling out the County Executive’s State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) survey to express your support for more affordable rental housing in the county. As housing prices continue to rise, investors know that they can increase rents. When government dollars are allotted to affordable housing programs, the units must remain affordable to low-income households for the long-term. Our investments today can help county residents remain stable for decades.
Thank you for your support.