This Black History Month, we celebrate a legal decision whose legacy stretches far and wide in creating more housing options for low-income families. Twenty five years ago, 14,000 Black public housing residents from Baltimore City and a group of concerned civil rights advocates and attorneys united to take legal action against centuries of discriminatory housing policy that confined Black public housing residents to the poorest, most segregated, and most decrepit housing in the city.

These living conditions barred generations of Black families from realizing their personal dreams and aspirations, and still today, families continue to face barriers to exercising their choice in where to live and raise their children.

In 2005, the collective won the lawsuit known as Thompson v. HUD and inspired a model of services that provide support and resources to families seeking affordable housing opportunities in safe neighborhoods with good schools. Since 2012, the Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership (BRHP) has served as the vehicle for this suite of services in Baltimore, as a subcontractor to the Housing Authority of Baltimore to City, to operate the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program.

On Feb. 20, BRHP and the ACLU of Maryland commemorated the landmark housing desegregation lawsuit with over 150 members of the community, including Doris Tinsley, one of the original plaintiffs, as well as leaders in philanthropy, law, social justice, business and academia.

The evening consisted of an awards ceremony honoring distinguished local housing developer, CR of Maryland, and education leader and former U.S. Secretary of Education, John B. King, Jr.

And, as we’ve seen in operating the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program, strong schools are a key component of resource-rich neighborhoods and critical to ending inter-generational cycles of poverty.

BALTIMORE – The Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership (BRHP) has been awarded a $100,000 planning grant from The Kresge Foundation to advance health equity through housing in Baltimore. The grant will allow the organization to plan for a demonstration assisting up to 100 low-income families with children in the Baltimore region who can benefit from a coupling of the Housing Choice Voucher program and housing mobility counseling to achieve health, well-being and economic stability.

“We believe that a health-focused housing voucher program is not only critical for Baltimore, but feasible,” said BRHP Executive Director Adria Crutchfield. “Baltimore City’s asthma-related hospitalization rate is almost three times higher than the U.S. average and about 2.2 times higher than the average rate for Maryland. Together, with the expertise and commitment of our partners, we hope to change health outcomes like these for generations to come.” In collaboration with the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, BRHP will conduct planning activities for a Healthy Children Demonstration to create a foundation for aligning housing vouchers with health promoting environments in the Baltimore region to improve health outcomes for children.

“We know that having a stable home in a good community can greatly contribute to improved health for all members of the household, especially children. Helping children in HABC families grow up healthy is a priority for us as an organization,” said HABC CEO and President Janet Abrahams. “This collaboration between BRHP, HABC and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health will enrich the lives of the residents we serve and ensure healthy, affordable housing alternatives.” BRHP is one of 20 non-profit organizations nationwide selected as a grantee partner to advance health equity through housing and working on innovative community-generated multi-sector solutions to improve health outcomes, housing affordability and quality.

Through its Advancing Health Equity through Housing funding opportunity, Kresge seeks to identify and accelerate community-driven practices that connect the housing and health sectors and recognize multi-sector partnerships that preserve and increase the supply of stable housing to improve health, well being and health equity for families in low-income communities in cities across the country.

The Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership mourns with the Baltimore region and the nation in the passing of our honorable hometown hero and champion, Congressman Elijah Cummings. Congressman Cummings dedicated his life to uplifting, empowering, and serving Baltimoreans and serves as a gold standard for our organization, and so many of us, on what it means to be a servant of people.

Congressman Cummings fought for basic human rights and equity for all, regardless of background and economic status. We are eternally grateful for his leadership and early support of the settlement agreement of the landmark public housing segregation lawsuit Thompson v HUD that enabled the Baltimore Housing Mobility Program to ensure over 5,000 Baltimoreans have a chance and a choice to thrive. Having personally known the legacy of segregation and discrimination in our city and its impact on life outcomes, Congressman Cummings was a fierce and unwavering champion for our city, region, and many of our community members who often get overlooked. He saw the best in Baltimore and the urgency for all Baltimoreans to reach their full potential.

We mourn the loss of a momentous leader in Congressman Cummings and honor his life and legacy by continuing the good fight in creating access to opportunity for a better life for all Baltimoreans.

We send our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.

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