Missouri has a severe affordable housing shortage. Our partners at the National Low Income Housing Coalition show 72% of very low income households in Missouri overpay for their housing, and are housing cost burdened. Cost burden occurs when a household pays more than 30% of their income towards housing costs alone, leaving very little for medical care, food, childcare, and other expenses. There is nothing left for these families to save for an emergency, and we should consider that they are all one emergency away from homelessness.
This situation cannot be solved by the family, because Missouri is also nearly 120,000 units short of meeting the housing needs for low income families. 120,000 Missouri households cannot secure housing which is affordable to them because it simply does not exist. On top of the existing housing shortage, the last few years have brought unprecedented rent, mortgage rate and construction cost increases, leaving tenants, prospective homebuyers, and homeowners needing to make necessary repairs deeply anxious about what that means for them and their families. There is no county in our state where a full time minimum wage worker can be housing secure. Missouri’s minimum wage recently increased to $12 an hour, but these gains have been outstripped by the larger increases in housing costs and other necessities. Working families are stressed out about being able to feed their kids, worried about where their next meal is coming from, and facing choices between keeping the lights on and putting food on the table.
Lack of safe, affordable housing is having an enormous impact on the health and prosperity of Missouri families and our communities. Without more financial resources, the affordable housing crisis will only continue to worsen. Expanding policies that make housing more affordable can help reduce the number of housing insecure families.
Missouri’s Housing Trust Fund (HTF) was created by the State Legislature in 1994 to help meet the housing needs of very low income families and individuals. Empower Missouri helped to pass that legislation, knowing what a benefit a state HTF would be for low income families. The Trust Fund is currently supported by a $3 recording fee on all deed transfer documents filed in the State of Missouri, collecting an estimated $3,400,000 FY 2023. The annual funding level depends upon the level of real estate activity. The HTF is one of the most flexible pots of money we have to address affordable housing in Missouri, and the only state funds at our disposal (all other funding comes from federal resources, even though Missouri controls the distribution). The Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) administers the HTF, which provides funding for a variety of housing needs, including:
- homelessness prevention,
- rehab or new construction of rental housing,
- rental assistance and,
- home repair.
The HTF often receives requests for funding which are significantly above the amount of resources available. This year not-for-profit organizations across Missouri requested over 10 million dollars in grants from the HTF. Many of these funding requests focus on rural South and Central parts of our state, which are often neglected by federal programs. The HTF often ends up funding vouchers and emergency assistance. Increasing the funding level could allow the HTF to focus more on the development of new housing targeted to households with low incomes, a long term solution to reducing homelessness in our state.
SB 284, filed earlier this month, seeks to raise the $3 fee to $9. If passed, SB 284 would:
- Allow Missouri households with a combined adjusted gross income equal to or less than 50% of the median family income to be eligible for financial assistance for housing.
- Provide financial assistance for certain residential occupancy projects to households with a combined adjusted gross income equal to or less than 30% of the median family income.
- Allocate 50% of the money collected by MHDC for the HTF to rental support projects.
Having access to safe, affordable housing is a cornerstone of family security, stability and prosperity. Missouri’s HTF has already made substantial positive impacts on local economies and has successfully increased affordable housing options for low and moderate-income families. Increasing funding to the HTF is a wise investment strategy. While raising the fee from $3 to $9 won’t solve the affordability crisis on its own, dedicating more funding will provide local communities with the flexible, dependable source of income they need to create more affordable housing opportunities.
Expanding the Housing Trust Fund is a priority for our Affordable Housing Coalition this year. If you’d like to get involved, you can learn more about the AHC and sign up here.
What is the latest activity on SB 284? Where is this bill in the legislative process? Also, why an increase from $3 to $9? I ask because if this bill gets push back, would a smaller increase be helpful (maybe from $3 to $6?).
Please respond with your comments. I lead a collaboration of churches the West County area of St. Louis, and I need more information before I can ask people to engage.
Hi Bernie! The best way to stay up to date on legislative progress is through our bill tracker here: https://empowermissouri.org/affordable-housing-bill-tracker/. You can also subscribe to the list on that page to get email updates.
SB 284 has been referred to the Health and Welfare Committee, but the previously scheduled hearing was cancelled. The legislature is on spring break next week, but we post hearing updates as we are able in our email newsletter or on social media.
For specific questions on the bill, I’m going to let one of our Affordable Housing Policy Managers, Amber and Vee, chime in. They should get back to you soon!
So glad to hear you are interested in advocating around this issue. While I can’t speak for the sponsor of this bill, tripling the amount makes sense to me in so far as the amount requested by non profits was over triple the amount of funding collected last year. With that being said, it’s possible that lowering the suggested increase could potentially make it more likely to pass. I want extend a warm invite to you and your colleagues, the Affordable Housing Coalition is a welcoming place to find like-minded folks. We host meetings every two weeks during legislative session and links can be accessed by filling out the form found on https://empowermissouri.org/campaigns/affordable-housing-coalition/. We’d love to see you on one of our calls to discuss and advocate together for affordable housing. Thanks for your thoughtful comments Bernie!