By
Sarah Owsley Townsend

For the last few years, I’ve practiced asking my friends and family if they were planning to vote and what that plan was. I was used to asking how they planned to vote on issues, though rarely about candidates. Before that I’d never really asked, “What time do you think you’ll head to the polls?”...
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It is no surprise to anyone I interact with, but I really love data. In college, I had a professor thank me for always coming back to an evidence base when making policy recommendations, a tendency which has served me well at Empower Missouri. I enjoy dissecting data and holding on to it, conceptualizing it...
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COVID-19 provides a stark reminder that affordable housing is a public health issue as well as a moral imperative. When households cannot afford their rent, they cannot afford to shelter in place or self-isolate, which puts them and everyone else at greater risk. Empower Missouri is encouraging our network to reach out to Senators Blunt...
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In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, federal lawmakers have passed multiple pieces of legislation to provide emergency relief and enhance the economy. Within those first few pieces of legislation, Congress began to address the impending increase in food insecurity by implementing important waivers and new programs to help individuals and families access much needed support...
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There is no doubt, we are in unprecedented times. The federal government has passed three significant coronavirus response bills. Included in these packages have been significant changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), expanded unemployment, and stimulus payments to most American families. However, a new report from our partners at the National Low Income...
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This week I was honored to sit in Hearing Room 5 with some really stellar housing organizers as we offered testimony against House Bill (HB) 1315.  This bill aims to shorten the already lightning-fast timeline on evictions. The sponsor, Rep. Hardy Billington, testified that he was a landlord and that he occasionally had to evict...
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“Surely as the Show Me State, where our namesake inherently promotes action and results over words, we have a higher sense of obligation to work together.” -Mike Parson, State of the State, January 15, 2020 Different organizations use all sorts of tactics for team building. At Empower Missouri this week, about half of our staff...
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Empower Missouri’s Affordable Housing Coalition recently released their 2020 legislative priorities. You can read it here. Some things on the list are very straight forward, some are really big asks, and some are common sense. However, one in particular is a bit more complicated.  Cities and states have a slate of tools available to them...
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The process of making comments on proposed federal rule or regulation changes has been an important but underutilized tool for a long time. In recent months, however, organizations like Empower Missouri have started to urge the advocates we work with to submit these comments on various proposed changes that impact the safety net. Empower Missouri...
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Public comment letters are an increasingly effective tool in legislative advocacy at the federal level, with advocates across the country utilizing this format as a way to submit feedback to the government and make their voices heard.
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