By
Sarah Owsley

As I look around the neighborhood I live in, I see mostly faces that look like mine. The same is likely true for the neighborhoods you live in. The reality for many of us is that the racial makeup of our neighborhoods continue to be impacted by the legacy of racist housing policies and redlining....
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Many years ago, before my time at Empower Missouri, I was a foster parent. While my time licensed was short and I had very few children move through my home, I was (and still am) passionate about easing the social conditions that fuel foster care. I remember learning how most children brought into foster care...
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It is undeniable that poverty is a problem in our state. Thirteen percent of Missourians live below the federal poverty line. In real numbers, that’s 772,922 of our neighbors who are deeply struggling to make ends meet every single day. Poverty causes physical and mental health problems. It tears apart families and increases the likelihood...
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In my years at Empower Missouri I have often heard from nonprofit staff at all levels that they know that policy change is integral to ending poverty, but also that they struggle to engage in it. Not-for-profit organizations are often functioning above their actual capacity with direct service work and other funded programming, and building...
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Empower Missouri often describes itself as the oldest and largest anti-poverty organization in Missouri. We have over 120 years working on legislative policy change, and a network of thousands of community members across the state working to advance evidence based public policy to end poverty. In those years, we’ve had exciting wins and faced difficult...
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Last year, we advocated against HB 2085, a bill that would prevent households which receive TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) from withdrawing those benefits in cash. This bill has been re-filed this year as HB 338, despite the fact that cash is a necessary resource, especially for households in poverty. This bill will increase...
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Empower Missouri started over 100 years ago as an annual conference, making the job of planning and executing our annual Anti-Poverty Summit even more significant. Ask any nonprofit staff and they’ll tell you that conference execution is no joke. I have to uplift our team and give them a round of applause: 2022’s return to...
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In 2018, I read Peter Temin’s book The Vanishing Middle Class. He got a lot of press coverage when the book was released, in large part because of his thesis that households who are working to escape poverty really need about 20 years without catastrophe. He theorized that on an individual level, it is sometimes...
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At Empower Missouri, we know that we can change lives through effective and targeted policy change. Too many of our neighbors struggle to get their everyday needs met. Housing insecurity, hunger, over policing, historical exclusion: these negative outcomes we see today are a result of intentional, targeted, often racist policy decisions made generations ago. We...
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In many ways, housing advocacy should be easy. Everyone needs housing to thrive, therefore it should be as easily attainable as possible. However in reality, many topics get mixed in and make the conversation much more complicated. Deeply ingrained systemic racism, generational wealth, market volatility impacting rental and purchase prices, and low wages create an...
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