Date: March 12, 2024
To: Chairman Brown and members of the Senate Emerging Issues Committee
From: Misha Smith, Affordable Housing Policy Manager, Empower Missouri
Re: Opposition to HB 2062

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 2062, which would limit local governments ability to enact eviction moratoriums by centralizing power with the state government to enact an eviction moratorium through state law.

We believe this legislation represents a significant risk to the health and well-being of low-income households in Missouri, our small business sector, and our state economy.  Research shows that without eviction moratoria and rental assistance in place, low-income households’ ability to stay sheltered during the COVID-19 pandemic would have been severely impeded. Without the federal eviction moratorium and Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program, evictions would have increased by 25% over pre-pandemic levels, rental unit crowding would have increased by 45%, and homelessness would have more than doubled. According to Missouri Housing Resources, over $644 million in federal housing relief was distributed to Missourians and resulted in more than 86,000 Missouri households avoiding eviction from 2021 through early 2023.   Additionally, a report from JP Morgan shows that the impact to landlords was minimal, with only a 3% shortfall in rent, which is standard year-to-year volatility.  

While it is believed that having uniformity across the state in regards to evictions is the best choice, it does not account for the individual needs of communities across Missouri in times of crisis. HB 2062 would limit the ability of local governments to make decisions based on what is right for their communities to protect public health and safety and would lead to delays in addressing community members’ immediate basic needs during times of crisis. While the recent COVID-19 pandemic looms large in our recent memory, we encourage the committee to consider other instances where a single county or city may need to enact an eviction moratorium, such as a tornado, an earthquake, or an intense local infectious outbreak, such as the measles.

Chairman Brown and members of the committee, we ask that you consider the impact of preventing local jurisdictions from enacting last resort emergency eviction moratoria during times of extreme health and economic crises. Eviction moratoria along with rental assistance are proven policy interventions that benefit all parties involved. It is especially important to protect local control so that local governments can act quickly during times of crisis. The passage of HB 2062 would create unnecessary barriers to local governments enacting vital policies that have been proven to protect the health and livelihood of low and median income workers and small businesses. Empower Missouri respectfully requests your “no” vote on this legislation.  

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