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 for your “no” vote on HB 895.

We believe this legislation represents a significant risk to the health and well-being of low-income Missouri tenant households, Missouri’s 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 would have been severely impeded. Absent 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 doubledAccording 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.

It might be easy to assume that the moratoria in place during the COVID-19 pandemic helped Missouri renters at the expense of small business owners who are landlords. However, research by JP Morgan Chase & Co. found that when eviction moratoria and ERA were in place during the pandemic, the average landlord ended the year with a modest 3% shortfall in rent. This shortfall was found to be within the normal range for year to year volatility. 

As members of this committee, we ask that you consider the wider ramifications 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 leave intact local governments’ ability to act in times of emergency. The passage of SB 895 would create unnecessary barriers to local governments enacting vital policies that have been proven to protect the health & livelihood of low and median income workers and small businesses. Empower Missouri respectfully requests your “no” vote on this legislation.  

This testimony was submitted on February 6th, 2024, to the Senate Emerging Issues Committee in opposition to SB 895. You can follow it’s progress, and other similar bills, using the trackers below.

Leave a Reply