Jessica Baskerville joined BRHP as a communications and special projects intern for the summer. In this Q&A, Jessica shares why she joined our team, what she’s been working on, and what she’ll take away from her time with us.
Can you share a little bit about yourself and why you chose the Baltimore Regional Housing Partnership for your internship?
I’m a rising senior at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. I’ve spent the past three years studying journalism, communications and criminal justice while interning for different organizations in the DMV. Through living in D.C. and watching the COVID-19 pandemic impact every aspect of life as we know it, I learned a lot about how housing stability is linked to public health, racial disparities, economic disparities, and educational stabilities. During this time, I found this BRHP internship on Handshake. I really wanted to get involved in more advocacy and issue-focused work, and the mission and work of BRHP called out to me.
What have you been working on during your internship?
Every month, I drafted content for the social media calendar for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I created graphics and posts to educate our families about the children tax credit, BRHP’s office reopening, adult education opportunities, and financial literacy. For some of our virtual events, I worked on the outreach and created scripts and presentations. For our Back to School Supply Drive, I worked with Senior Communications Manager Tiffani Long to create a timeline, reach out to libraries and community centers, coordinate with our families and pack the school supply bundles to help our families prepare for the school year. I also wrote a blog about how our property partners can promote housing stability by helping their tenants find rental assistance.
How do you think you’ve helped our team with its mission?
Through the instability of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been able to help BRHP’s mission by communicating concise and consistent information. By showcasing our resources, writing scripts for videos and presentations to inform our families and property partners and providing solutions, I’ve been able to provide information during a particularly chaotic time.
Did anything surprise you about working at BRHP?
I was surprised with just how many bases BRHP covers in their work. Not only does BRHP help families with housing vouchers find housing, but they also counsel them before, during, and after they move-in. They also focus on their property partners by making sure they maintain professional relationships with their tenants and have the resources to provide stable and safe housing for their families. They do this by hosting monthly property partner power hours on frequently asked questions, along with sending bi-monthly resource newsletters. It’s amazing to know that they’re able to provide relief in more ways than one.
What have you learned during this internship that you can apply in the future?
The best part about working at BRHP is that you get to see the direct impact of your work on the families in our program. With that mind, all skills are valued at places like BRHP, from counseling, to technology, to customer service; nonprofits are made up of so many amazing people with different backgrounds that are all working toward a common goal. I learned from my time at BRHP just how much I value making an impact through communications and outreach. After my time at BRHP, I’ll continue to advocate for increased access to stable housing. I’ll also definitely look at positions at nonprofit organizations after graduating from college.
BRHP is always seeking student interns. If you are interested in furthering our mission and being considered for a paid or school credit internship, please send your resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans have been unable to pay their rent. This has not only caused distress amongst tenants that are working to make ends meet, but to the landlords that house them. While state and federal eviction moratoriums have allowed tenants to remain in their homes, many landlords are struggling to pay their expenses because their tenants are unable to pay rent. The Maryland eviction moratorium is set to end on August 15 and many Maryland renters are in jeopardy of being evicted. This reality is true in part because available resources are not being utilized by both tenants and landlords.
More proactive solutions for housing insecurity have been growing. The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program provides stability for participants as a housing subsidy can increase if a participant’s income decreases. President Biden has proposed a $9 billion increase in spending for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which would go a long way towards ensuring housing security for families, specifically when facing economic hardships.
For short-term, emergency needs, legislation at the state and federal level has established several emergency rental assistance programs to keep renters housed and landlords financially stable. Times like this require an “all hands-on deck” approach from landlords, housing providers, and tenants. Here we will list a few steps our BRHP property partners can take to ensure housing stability for their tenants.
Use BRHP as a resource – we are here to help!
• Encourage your tenant to complete our Interim Change Packet to report any income losses. This is a BRHP program requirement and alerts us to make changes to your tenant’s rental portion to ensure you get paid.
• Maybe your tenant still hasn’t completed the Interim Change Packet to report their income loss and you’re missing your rent. No worries, you can complete our Non-Payment of Rent Report Form on our website. You should do this as soon as possible because it alerts our counseling team, so they can step in and address the situation.
• Would you like to schedule a mediation with our counselors directly? Call BRHP’s hotline at 667-207-2100 and ask to schedule a landlord-tenant mediation.
Share Maryland’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program with your tenant – you may be able to apply too!
In addition to using us as a resource, there is emergency rental assistance available throughout the state for your tenant (yes, they are eligible to apply!). This assistance became available in the spring of 2021 and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development lists all emergency rental assistance programs, application links, program status, and more by local jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions even allow landlords to apply on behalf of tenants. For example, Baltimore City has a program that work simplifies the application process for landlords and housing providers that have multiple tenants that are struggling to pay rent.
Trust us, we know that tenants aren’t the only ones struggling during this pandemic, property owners are too, and so we are making every effort to help. A BRHP, we are committed to the success of our families and property partners. That’s why we have a dedicated team of counselors, a landlord relationship specialist, and host special events like our monthly Property Partner Power Hours and enrichment webinars for our program participants. We need your support and commitment to keep our families housed during this public health crisis. By using the steps we’ve outlined above, we’re confident that you will get through this challenging financial time, while also keeping a family safely housed at a moment when it’s needed most.
Jessica Baskerville is BRHP’s Communications and Special Projects Intern