Welcome our Affordable Housing Policy Manager, Misha Smith

I am so grateful to be a part of the Empower Missouri policy team as the newest Affordable Housing Policy Manager. I have been involved with the organization, first as a coalition member and then as a board member, before joining the staff, and I knew this was where I wanted to be. In this role, I will be partnering with local and statewide agencies, legislators, and community members to advance affordable housing policy in Missouri. 

My first introduction to policy work was during my undergraduate social work studies, and upon graduation I worked in many areas of direct service as a case manager for almost a decade. During this time, I began to see that direct service providers are limited by the policies that are in place. While the work I was doing was important to helping others, I wanted to do more. In 2021, I enrolled in the Masters of Public Administration program at Park University and graduated with my Master’s and a renewed love of policy in December 2022. 

My background also includes volunteer work and outreach in Kansas City. I’ve been involved in street outreach with those experiencing homelessness and saw again that policy plays a crucial role in what support services are available to help people get into homes and other necessary services. I also saw that many policies are being created without the input of those experiencing the issues they are aiming to fix. That is why I am excited that my role at Empower Missouri also includes tenant organizing. Tenants know the realities of the housing crisis in a way that others may not, and their voice needs to be a part of the conversation. It is also a good mix of state and local policy work, which can increase our reach at implementing the changes that are needed to advance affordable housing in Missouri.

I have also been involved in advocating for LGBTQIA rights in Missouri and spent a lot of time in Jefferson City in 2023. That experience helped shape me and my desire to work directly in changing and implementing policy that improves the lives of Missourians. I look forward to connecting with others who are also advocating for strong housing policies, developing a new tenant union in the Mid-Missouri region, and being a part of strengthening and growing our coalitions as we work together on affordable housing policy.

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