In 2019, the Affordable Housing Coalition identified the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) as a key issue to target. While flawed, this program is the primary way our state invests in the development of new and inexpensive housing, a commodity which Missouri significantly lacks. For every 100 households earning 30% of their Area Median Income, there are only 42 homes available for them in Missouri. That means a lot of our most vulnerable families have been scraping by just to pay for housing.
Currently, Missouri takes a federal LIHTC allocation and distributes it across our state to develop housing in both rural and urban communities, though not enough in either location. Previously our state matched these federal dollars, but this match was ended under Gov. Eric Greitens’ administration. Since Greitens stepped down in June 2018, advocates and developers have been trying to get that match reinstituted with little success, until recently.
Reinstituting this statewide program could provide thousands of new, safe, and affordable housing options for households across our state. Earlier this year, we worked with stakeholders to recommend a list of reforms to help better target these limited funds to best meet the needs of people with the lowest incomes. Partnering with not-for-profit organizations and prioritizing households with the highest housing needs will lead to the most long-term success for this program and for these families.
In the most recent win for our Affordable Housing Coalition, it appears the state of Missouri is just a few days away from restoring statewide funding to match the federal portion of this credit. The affordable housing crisis that was already well-documented pre-pandemic has certainly only grown in recent months. According to the Coalition on Human Needs, 37.5% of Missouri renters with low incomes (under $35,000 annually) paid more than half their income on rent in 2019.
These folks often work in industries hit by the COVID-19 pandemic: hospitality, service, and gig workers. They are also a disproportionality of workers of color and those with disabilities. When instituted well, LIHTC can help ease their burdens. You can read more about our recommendations for LIHTC at our website HERE.
Empower Missouri’s Affordable Housing Coalition has been very successful in 2020. We stopped a seriously bad bill that would harm tenants in the eviction process. We worked with communities across the state to help target coronavirus response funds to rental assistance for people with the lowest incomes. Finally, we’ve worked on incremental tax incentive reform at the local level in several municipalities.
We’re always working to expand our toolkit of evidence-based public policy solutions for the housing crisis. That’s why we are featuring housing experts in the Empowering You Webinar of October 15, “Housing Comes First: Why We Must Solve Our Affordable Housing Crisis.” Register today to reserve your virtual seat.
More good things are coming in 2021. Join us the second Monday of each month at 2 p.m.; learn more HERE.
Policy & Organizing Manager