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.”

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


Posted in Affordable Housing & Homelessness.