POW! 2017 Annual Conference

Persisting & Organizing to Win! Putting the POW in EMPOWER!

October 5-6, St Louis, MO

Online Registration is NOW OPEN!

Empower Missouri is dedicating the 2017 Annual Conference to the role of labor organizing. With continued attacks to reduce the reach and influence of the labor community, now is the time to focus on building strong alliances across the broad social justice spectrum.

Keynote Speakers:

  • Nancy Cross: Opening Keynoter, Vice President SEIU Local 1
  • Tiffany Dena Loftin: Closing Keynoter, Senior Program Specialist, NEA
  • Rev. Traci Blackmon & Rabbi Susan Talve: Dinner & Awards Speaker



Workshop titles and times subject to change, more details to follow.

Breakout Session #1 1:30-3:00 PM   Breakout Session #2 3:15-4:45 PM
Housing & Food Insecurity Among Low-Wage Workers (AHHTF & HTF)   Housing & Food Insecurity Among Low-Wage Workers (Repeat) (AHHTF & HTF)
Justice in the Workplace (HRTF)   Faith/Labor Alliance
MO Budget Project (EJTF)   Ban the Box - Fair Chance Hiring Policies (CJTF)
Impact of Trauma on Low-Wage Workers (H/MHTF)   Minimum Wage and #FF$15 (EJTF)


10% of the total tickets sold are available at a Scholarship Rate of 10% of the conference price. Click here to apply for a scholarship. If selected, you will receive registration instructions.


You and/or your organization can show your support for worker's rights and grassroots organizing by sponsoring our conference and contributing to our scholarship fund for low-wage workers. 

Thank you to last year's Sponsors. 2017 Sponsors include:

Missouri Jobs with Justice

When & Where

October 5-6, 2017

Sheraton Clayton Plaza Hotel, St. Louis

7730 Bonhomme Ave.

St. Louis, MO 63105

(Special hotel rate of $109/night is available under "Empower Missouri October 2017")





Our Homes, Our Voices: the National Week of Housing Advocacy

As state partner with the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Empower Missouri’s Affordable Housing and Homelessness Task Force is participating in Our Homes, Our Voices: the National Week of Housing Advocacy from July 22-29.

We started preparing for this at our June 14th meeting, recognizing that the House Budget Committee would be preparing to debate its budget blueprint for FY18 and tax reform in July. As anticipated, the details were released on July 19. Here is a summary of some of our deepest concerns from budget and tax information put forward by the Trump Administration for the next ten year period:

  • Defense spending would increase nearly $1 trillion.
  • Domestic programs would be decreased by $1.3 trillion — to its lowest level since before the Great Depression.
  • Mandatory programs that ensure basic living standards for low income families, including Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, commonly known as food stamps), would be slashed by $4.4 trillion.
  • The first $200 billion in cuts are put on a fast-track schedule to help pay for tax cuts.
  • More than 50% of those tax cuts would go to the wealthiest one percent in Missouri according to additional budgetary information received from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
  • The House Financial Services Committee, which oversees affordable housing and community development programs, is ordered to find at least $14 billion in savings.

Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee moved forward with its FY18 spending bill for affordable housing and community development programs. NLIHC estimates the bill would result in the loss of more than 140,000 housing vouchers. For more detailed information, see NLIHC’s analysis and updated budget chart.

Here are Our Homes, Our Voices events slated for July 22-29 in Missouri:

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Meeting with one of Sen. Blunt’s district office directors. Space is limited. If you would like to be considered for inclusion on this leadership team, email Jeanette@EmpowerMissouri.org.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017, noon

Press conference at Wilkes Blvd United Methodist Church

702 Wilkes Blvd, Columbia, MO 65201

You are welcome to attend to show opposition to housing budget cuts. If you would like to make signs, find ideas at https://www.ourhomes-ourvoices.org/resources. Speakers will include those who met with Sen. Blunt’s staff earlier that morning.

Friday, July 28, 2017, 9 a.m.

Tour of the Salvation Army Veterans Residence, 2933-35 Locust Street, St. Louis, MO 63103. This is a 48-unit low-income housing tax credit project that provides permanent and transitional supportive housing for Veterans. The housing is located in a campus-style community in the Locust Business District. Supports include on-site case management and our local Midtown health clinic for counseling, healthcare, and addictions treatment. Federal, state and local elected officials are invited to tour the site and hear a brief presentation of budget concerns. Please RSVP to Nicole McKoy at nicole_mckoy@usc.salvationarmy.org.

Please join us for these events or contact Jeanette@EmpowerMissouri.org if  you’d like to host a rally, letter writing party, press conference or additional Our Homes, Our Voices event in your community July 22-29.

NLIHC Report: Affordable Housing Out of Reach of Many Low Wage Workers in MO


(Jefferson City, MO)………In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent in Missouri, renters need to earn $15.67 per hour. This is Missouri’s 2017 Housing Wage, revealed in a national report released today. The report, Out of Reach: The High Cost of Housing, was jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a research and advocacy organization dedicated solely to achieving affordable and decent homes for the lowest income people, and Empower Missouri, a statewide not-for-profit advocating for basic human needs and equity.

Every year, Out of Reach reports on the Housing Wage (the hourly wage a full-time worker must earn to afford a modest and safe rental home without spending more than 30% of his or her income on housing costs) for all states, counties, and metropolitan areas in the country. The report highlights the gap between what renters earn and what it costs to afford rent at fair market value.

“Hundreds of thousands of our neighbors cannot afford stable housing on the wages they make,” said Jeanette Mott Oxford, Executive Director of Empower Missouri. “That housing instability is one of the primary reasons so many children do not complete high school. Frequent evictions and lack of affordable shelter causes erratic school attendance, and they also cause toxic stress, impacting a child’s brain development.”

The federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour without an increase since 2009, not keeping pace with the high cost of rental housing. In no state, even those like Missouri where the minimum wage has been set above the federal standard, can a minimum wage renter working a 40-hour work week afford a modest two-bedroom rental unit at the average Fair Market Rent. Working at the minimum wage of $7.70 in Missouri, a wage earner must have 1.6 full-time jobs or work 64 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment.

The typical renter Missouri earns $13.65 which is $2.02 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest two-bedroom unit. Difficulty affording housing was cited by St. Louis City workers who organized to win a higher minimum wage through the St. Louis Board of Aldermen in 2015. That raise was first held up in court due to a lawsuit over a bill that sought to preempt local minimum wage increases. The Supreme Court struck down that law, but a different wage law preemption bill was passed on the last day of Legislative Session in 2017 and is now on the desk of Gov. Eric Greitens.

“Missouri workers need a raise, and we urge Gov. Greitens to veto Senate Substitute # 2 for House Committee Substitute for House Bills 1193 & 1194,” Oxford said. “In a decent society, workers would be able to afford basic human needs like food and shelter.”

“The Out of Reach 2017 data shows why millions of low income renters are struggling to afford their homes. The federal minimum wage has stayed the same since 2009 but the national Housing Wage has increased to $21.21 for a two-bedroom rental home, more than 2.9 times higher than the federal minimum wage and $4.83 higher than the average renter’s wage,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “We have the resources to solve the affordable housing crisis by realigning federal tax expenditures and reinvesting the savings in rental housing programs that serve our nation’s most vulnerable. We lack only the political will to do so.”

For additional information, visit: http://www.nlihc.org/oor

NLIHC (www.nlihc.org), based in Washington, DC, educates, organizes and advocates to ensure decent, affordable housing for everyone.


Tell Secretary Carson and Congress that President Trump’s budget is unacceptable

The National Low Income Housing Coalition, Empower Missouri’s national partner, has asked us to share with you that HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson will testify before the Senate Appropriations Transportation and HUD (THUD) Subcommittee on June 7 at 2:30 pm ET (1:30 Central) on the administration’s FY18 budget.

The president’s budget proposes to slash federal investments in affordable housing at HUD by 15%, or $7.4 billion, compared to FY17. If enacted, more than 250,000 people could lose their housing vouchers. The budget would also impose punitive measures that would jeopardize family stability — increasing the financial burdens they face through higher rents and ending support to help cover the cost of basic utilities, like water and heat. The proposed budget slashes funding for public housing and many other vital programs and eliminates funding for the national Housing Trust Fund, the HOME Investment Partnerships program, and the Community Development Block Grants program. Read NLIHC’s analysis of the president’s budget and our top questions for Dr. Carson.

Twitter Storm Tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. Central

Please join the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding to tell Secretary Carson and Congress that President Trump’s budget is unacceptable during a Twitter storm tomorrowJune 7 at 1:30 p.m. Central.

Sample Tweets:

  • #TrumpBudget puts struggling families under more financial strain by ^ rents to 35% of their gross income (avg is $12K/yr)
  • #TrumpBudget takes hsg assistance away from 250K families, putting them at immediate risk of eviction & homelessness. #CutsHurt
  • #TrumpBudget cuts resources to keep public housing developments up and running by 2/3rds. #CutsHurt
  • Tell Congress to lift the unfair budget caps for a stronger and more prosperous America. #CutsHurt
  • #CutsHurt the most vulnerable in our communities: low income seniors, veterans, ppl with disabilities, those who are homeless.
  • Families thrive bc of housing & community development investments at HUD and USDA. Now is not the time to cut funding #CutsHurt
  • Congress must lift spending caps & increase $$ to protect #affordablehousing for low income families and communities. #CutsHurt
  • We should not balance the budget on the backs of low income families struggling to get by. #CutsHurt
  • America is stronger and prosperous when we have decent, affordable homes & stable communities. #CutsHurt
  • Families thrive bc of housing & community development investments at HUD and USDA. #CutsHurt
  • With an affordable home, families can climb the economic ladder and kids do better in school. #CutsHurt
  • Affordable housing is linked to better health. Cuts will only make our communities less healthy. #CutsHurt
  • Learn more about why housing matters to health, education, and economic mobilityhttp://bit.ly/2ljnEed
  • HUD investments led to half a million jobs in 2015, on top of providing homes to 5 million families. http://bit.ly/2ljnEed
  • Thanks to HUD, 5 million families have a place to call home. http://bit.ly/2ljnEed
  • Find out the economic impact of federal investments in affordable housing in your state.http://bit.ly/2ljnEed

Important Twitter Handles

  • Secretary Ben Carson: @SecretaryCarson
  • Senator Susan Collins: @SenatorCollins
  • Senator Jack Reed: @SenJackReed
  • Senator Richard Shelby: @SenShelby
  • Senator Lamar Alexander: @SenAlexander
  • Senator Roy Blunt: @RoyBlunt (our U.S. Senator)
  • Senator John Boozman: @JohnBoozman
  • Senator Shelly Moore Capito @SenCapito
  • Senator Steve Daines: @SteveDaines
  • Senator Lindsey Graham: @LindseyGrahamSC
  • Senator John Hoeven: @SenJohnHoeven
  • Senator Patty Murray: @PattyMurray
  • Senator Richard Durbin: @SenatorDurbin
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein: @SenFeinstein
  • Senator Chris Coons: @ChrisCoons
  • Senator Brian Schatz: @brianschatz
  • Senator Chris Murphy: @ChrisMurphyCT
  • Senator Joe Manchin: @Sen_JoeManchin

Empower Missouri & NLIHC Join Call for “Clean Budget”

Invite Members to Participate in November 17 “Twitter Storm” at 1 p.m.

Empower Missouri and the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) have joined the Clean Budget Coalition—a group of more than 200 organizations—to urge Congress and the White House to adopt a “clean budget.” We ask them to reject harmful policy riders that could prevent lawmakers from enacting a final full-year spending package for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. Whenever Congress uses a Continuing Resolution to fund essential programs, it puts vital investments like affordable housing, healthcare, and nutrition programs at risk.

What is a policy rider? A rider is an additional provision added to a bill that is under consideration that has little connection to the subject matter of the bill to which it is attached. Riders tend to be of two varieties: 1) Some are a “hold your nose and vote” tactic to pass something that is so controversial that it would not pass on its own without the urgency of the underlying bill to help it along. Examples of these kinds of riders are anti-immigrant provisions, bans on funding Planned Parenthood, attacks on same sex marriage or transgender protections, or tax breaks for various special interest campaign contributors. 2) Others are of the “poison pill” variety, so controversial that they are meant to stop a positive vote that would pass a bill or approve a budget.

If Congress does not approve full-year FY 2017 spending bills for the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Agriculture (USDA) and instead passes a long-term stopgap spending measure known as a Continuing Resolution (CR), these agencies will see a steep shortfall in funding. This could result in deep cuts to critical housing and nutrition programs, placing thousands of families and children at risk of increased housing and food insecurity.

For more information on how long-term CR will negatively impact affordable housing programs, click here: http://bit.ly/2aK61e1.


Empower Missouri members are invited to join a “Twitter Storm” on Thursday, November 17 at 1 p.m. CST. Join us in telling Congress to say no to harmful policy riders. Recommended hashtags include #noriders #cleanbudget #doyourjob #getitdone #finishthebudget #omnibus and #thankful.

Here are some sample tweets:

  • 1000s of low income families may lose access to #affordablehousing unless #Congress passes a #cleanbudget ASAP
  • Without a #cleanbudget, Congress would put vital investments in food and #affordablehousing at risk.
  • The #affordablehousing crisis is reaching new heights. This is not the time to put vital investments at risk. Pass a #cleanbudget.
  • America is stronger when families have #affordablehousing. Tell Congress to pass a #cleanbudget ASAP to protect vital investments.


If you have questions or comments, please email outreach@nlihc.org or Jeanette@EmpowerMissouri.org.

Budget Deal Contains Some Good News

Early on the morning of December 16, U.S. Senate and House leaders released an omnibus budget agreement. The tax bill is expected to come to a vote in the House on Thursday, the 17th. The Senate is expected to combine the two pieces of legislation into a single vote, presumably on Friday, the 18th. See highlights on child nutrition and EITC programs below as provided by our allies at Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).

Omnibus Appropriations Act Highlights:

  • $6.350 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which is expected to support the anticipated caseload. This falls short of the $6.623 billion in the President’s FY2016 proposed budget, which was the same amount appropriated last year.
  • School Nutrition Standards: The omnibus maintains the language from prior appropriations legislation that allows waivers of the whole grain requirement and postpones full implementation of the sodium requirement.
  • $23 million for the summer EBT program, which is $11 million more than the House bill and $7 million more than the 2015 enacted level. Participation is not limited to certain communities as it was last year.

No CNR on Omnibus. Despite intense bipartisan efforts by Senate Agriculture Committee staff to attach a Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) bill onto the Omnibus, it is reported that at the last minute, House leadership rejected that effort. CNR is expected to be considered early next year under “regular order” with a markup in the Senate Agriculture Committee on a free-standing bill.

Tax Extender Highlights:

  • The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) improvements have been made permanent! Thanks in large part to advocates like you, these critical refundable tax credits for low and moderate-income working families that were slated to expire in 2017 have now been made permanent. The improvements in the small-in-amount EITC for low-income, childless workers were not included.
  • The Enhanced American Opportunity Tax Credit also has been made permanent.

Housing Highlights from our friends at National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), include:

  • National Housing Trust Fund – No NHTF funds were raided!!
  • HOME – Small increase of $50 million above FY15 level to $950M for FY16!!
  • Vouchers – Appears short on renewals by about $369 million; only new vouchers are VASH vouchers.
  • Homeless Assistance Grants – Increase over FY15’s $2.135B to $2.250B.
  • Project-Based Rental Assistance – Appears short on renewal funding by about $200 million.
  • Public Housing Operating and Capital Funds – Small increases for both!
  • Fair housing policy riders – None!
  • Moving to Work – Reduces the Senate’s proposed expansion from 300 to 100 agencies and adds research protocols, as well as some modest reforms.

To read a very thorough summary, go to:

Summary of FY16 Omnibus_0

“Hundred Fronts War” to Secure Housing

In the 1990’s, Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund talked of “the hundreds front war” that social justice advocates were fighting, with cuts and unjust laws being proposed on education, nutrition, public health, taxation, and so much more. Unfortunately that trend has continued unabated for more than two decades, and we continuously see funding for affordable housing and homelessness prevention/solutions under attack at the local, state, and federal levels.


What can be done to achieve our goal of true access to affordable housing and adequate services for homeless persons in Missouri? We’ll explore ways to move forward on our 2016 goals as the Empower Missouri Affordable Housing and Homelessness Task Force meets in Jefferson City and by telephone on Tuesday, December 8, 10:30 a.m.-noon. You are welcome to travel to our headquarters at 308 E. High, Suite 100, Jefferson City, MO 65101, or to dial in on our conference line:


Passcode: 167856#


We will also have an update on a negative landlord/tenant bill being considered in St. Louis County. Speakers from Legal Services of Eastern Missouri and the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council will share what has been proposed and how citizens have fought the proposal.


Please RSVP regarding your attendance to Val@EmpowerMissouri.org.