B/CS Habitat for Humanity is a member of the Brazos Valley Homeless Coalition, a regional network of organizations and government agencies with staff members whose mission is ending homelessness and securing decent, affordable housing for every person in the Brazos Valley.
As the relatively new marketing and communications manager at B/CS Habitat, I recently attended my first coalition meeting at Twin Cities Mission. During the meeting, a deeper realization came to me: No one individual, agency or organization can do it alone. Only by collaborating with others who value the whole community — including people of all races and income levels — can we make any headway toward achieving the coalition’s mission.
Here at B/CS Habitat, we help our community’s affordable housing needs by building decent, affordable homes in partnership with individuals and families who can’t afford the high cost of rent. With our program, applicants’ household incomes must fall between 35 percent and 80 percent of the area median income, depending on family size. (The current AMI for the B/CS area is $60,400). In addition, the applicants must have at least one year of steady employment.
But what about the households who live below 35 percent AMI? What about our residents who haven’t held a job for more than a year?
Agencies like the Brazos Valley Council of Governments, Bryan Housing Authority and Twin City Missions do their utmost to provide housing options for those who don’t qualify for a Habitat home or cannot afford rent — including our residents who are homeless. According to the Department of Numbers, which mines data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the average rent in the B/CS area is $880 (http://www.deptofnumbers.com/rent/texas/college-station/). For those working full-time at minimum wage ($7.25 per hour), this amount would eat up two-thirds of their incomes. This forces people desperate for affordable housing to live in substandard or overcrowded rental units.
There is an urgent need for more decent and affordable housing in our community. This need can seem overwhelming at times. Without decent, affordable housing for all, we jeopardize the present and future well-being of our community. When substandard housing contributes to serious health issues for the disadvantaged, or when parents are forced to move their children from one hazardous rental to another, the fabric of our community is weakened significantly.
As I walked backed to my office from the Homeless Coalition meeting, I was inspired and bolstered by the staff members of these agencies, who work right alongside Habitat. Collectively, we are working hard to provide a full spectrum of housing solutions for our neighbors who need them with the support from individuals, businesses and municipalities. No one individual or organization can do it alone, but together, we are moving closer to our common goal.