Founded in 1901, Empower Missouri is the largest anti-poverty advocacy organization in the state. As part of our work, we convene a statewide Affordable Housing Coalition every month. This coalition is made up of individuals and organizations who are working to ensure every Missourian has access to safe, affordable, stable housing. On behalf of our staff, board, and coalition members, we are asking you to vote NO on HB 2385.

If HB 2385 is passed, our concern is that the lack of access to affordable housing will increase due to the discrimination low-income renters experience, especially when utilizing Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV).  While HCVs and other federal rental assistance programs have been shown to be effective at reducing homelessness among households with low incomes, the elderly, people with disabilities, individuals with mental health issues and substance use disorders, discrimination against these tenants continues to be high. Our opposition to HB 2385 is because the end of SOI discrimination bans is an end to equitable access to housing for all tenants, regardless of their source of income. 

Misinformation about HCVs leads to more discrimination. 

HCVs cover rent and utility costs above the required 30% of income that households pay. There are also additional services in place to cover a higher portion if the household experiences a financial hardship. Additionally, renters with HCVs are not exempt from receiving lease violations or being evicted. Renters with HCVs are also followed by a Housing Case Manager to ensure that they are compliant with the program and lease requirements. If found to be in violation, they can be terminated from the program. 

Renters who apply for housing with HCVs can face higher application and tenancy requirements than those without HCVs.  

Renters applying for housing with their HCVs have reported being asked for additional deposit amounts, High Risk fees, and other administrative fees that are not required of those without vouchers. These renters also face additional background and credit checks, different lease requirements, and being issued more lease violations than renters who are not in the HCV program. 

Access to affordable housing strengthens Missouri’s economy. 

Year over year, the HCV program has helped to strengthen Missouri’s economy. In FY2023, Missouri received $45 million dollars in funding for the HCV programs. The 2023 St Louis Rental Landscape Report shows that when a cost-burdened tenant begins paying no more than 30% of their income for housing costs, there is an average increase of 70% in disposable income, which plays a part in generating revenue for local communities. 

Studies have shown that vouchers lift people out of poverty, increase mental and physical health outcomes, and decrease homelessness. Vouchers are a proven intervention to increasing the supply of affordable housing in communities. We ask that you vote no on source of income discrimination  and support equitable access to housing for all renters in Missouri. 

This testimony was submitted on April 9th, 2024, to the Senate Emerging Issues Committee. You can follow it’s progress using the Bill Tracker below.

Deja una respuesta