On May 2, I had the privilege of testifying before the Howard County Council in support of the County Executive Allan Kittleman's FY 2018 proposed operating budget.
I would like to take this opportunity to share excerpts of the testimony with you.
"CAC's mission is to diminish poverty, enable self-sufficiency and advocate for low-income families.
This evening, I'd like to spend a couple of minutes to thank you for your incredible support and leadership and for having your finger on the pulse of the needs of the Howard County families who work so hard and yet struggle to make ends meet.
Thank you. I look across the days and I can easily recite dozens of ways you have so painstakingly assured that our community stands tall as it relates to taking care of our most vulnerable citizens.
Thank you for the many ways you have supported our efforts to end hunger in Howard County and for taking a stance by helping purchase a permanent home for the Howard County Food Bank. Last year, we supported more than 27,000 people at the Food Bank. At our new space on Gerwig Lane, we are now providing a one stop shop opportunity whereby applicants can receive not only food assistance but file for energy, housing and Head Start services.
Additionally, we are now open Wednesday evening until 8 pm and Saturdays until noon - giving working families an opportunity to shop after work hours.
I am also happy to report that we have signed a system-wide Memorandum of Understanding with the Howard County Public School System, which makes setting up pantries at the schools much easier. We now have pantries at the Bryant Woods and Longfellow Elementary schools and set up a monthly pop up pantry at Phelps Luck Elementary School.
Thank you for the ways you have supported affordable housing as well as programs that allow us to help families prevent eviction and homelessness.
Thank you for supporting the Head Start program and assuring that 322 children receive full-day full-year, high-quality early childhood education and that their parents are supported through a 2 Generation approach that creates pathways to education and employment, thus mitigating against multigenerational poverty.
How many of us know individuals who get paid less than $20 per hour? In reality, more than half of the jobs in Maryland pay $10 to $15 per hour. Yet the average survival budget for a family of four in Howard County is about $76,000. That translates to an hourly wage of $36.
That's a pretty wide gap to fill. That's where the struggle comes in.
In Howard County, 22% of our residents face hardship as they try to meet the most basic necessities of daily life - like food, housing, energy and early childhood education.
The challenges faced by this segment of our population are widespread and have significant impact on their families and the society as a whole. It's not just about them, it's about the entire community.
Without a doubt, and time after time, you have each so vigorously demonstrated your support and commitment to helping strengthen human services programs in Howard County.
On behalf of our board, our staff, and so many families who benefit from the services you enable us to provide. Thank you so much."