On Tuesday, August 15th, BRHP hosted U.S. Senator for Maryland, Chris Van Hollen, in our office for a discussion on housing programs and the critical role BRHP plays in the housing mobility community. Senator Van Hollen is a long-time champion of housing mobility approaches and expanding and protecting affordable housing. 

Senator Van Hollen discussed his work on the HUD Community Choice Demonstration (originally called the Housing Mobility Demonstration Act) and his current work on the Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act, which would create 250, 000 new housing mobility vouchers to help families move to areas with greater opportunity. The bipartisan bill is aimed at improving the lives of families with young children and would increase access to mobility vouchers while providing counseling services, similar to BRHP’s proven method of combining client counseling with housing mobility vouchers. Senator Van Hollen also talked about the importance of having bipartisan support for housing mobility and housing funding.  

Members of BRHP’s Client Advisory Board (CAB) also shared their experiences with BRHP’s housing mobility program. Monica Braxton shared the positive impact of moving into an opportunity area for her and her family, discussing her pride and comfort in her new community. Mykki Scott shared how BRHP staff had assisted in navigating an unexpected move during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Zelda Tally shared the opportunities that BRHP’s program provided, and the ability to give her children access to education and other resources that would help her family build long-term, generational success.   

BRHP’s Managing Director of Operations and Program Evaluation, Pete Cimbolic, shared BRHP’s recent milestones, notably in achieving a full 98% voucher utilization rate, compared to an 88% average in Maryland and 85% nationwide. Pete emphasized the role of flexible funding in helping agencies achieve higher utilization rates, noting how BRHP flexible funding not only helps clients with security deposits and other financial barriers related to moving into a new community, but also helps BRHP gain and maintain a network of property partners to ensure a supply of quality homes for BRHP participants. The importance of flexible funding was further reinforced by a BRHP program participant who shared how BRHP helped her move despite a landlord wrongfully withholding her security deposit. To this end, Janet Abrahams, the CEO for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, urged the Senator to lend his support to a recent Senate appropriations bill seeking an extension for flexible funding for public housing agencies.  Rounding out the conversation was one of BRHP’s property partners, Dana Johnson, CEO of Homes for America, who raised the need for continued support of financial vehicles that allow for the expansion of the affordable housing supply in the region. 

BRHP thanks Senator Van Hollen for his fierce advocacy for housing mobility initiatives and in creating opportunities for families in Maryland and across the country to thrive. 

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