March 25, 2019

(JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri)……The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, the 2019 updated report released today by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and Empower Missouri, finds a national shortage of nearly seven million affordable and available rental homes for extremely low-income (ELI) renter households, those with incomes at or below the poverty level or 30% of their area median income. There are just 37 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 ELI renter households nationwide. Seventy- one percent of the poorest renter households are severely housing cost-burdened, spending more than half of their incomes on housing, with little left over for other basic necessities.

In Missouri there are 195,901 extremely low income renter households but only 82,886 affordable rental homes available to them. The result is a deficit of 113,015 affordable and available rental homes and thousands of severely housing cost-burdened households at a high risk of homelessness in our state. This severe shortage forces 70% of our poorest families – seniors, people with disabilities, and low-wage families - to be severely housing cost-burdened. This sets Missouri families up for a cycle of housing instability, evictions, and, in the worst cases, homelessness. Homelessness is also on the scale of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) which has been demonstrated to create trauma and toxic stress in children, impacting on brain development.

Every year, The Gap reports on the severe shortage of affordable rental homes available to financially-vulnerable families and individuals. Jeanette Mott Oxford, Executive Director of Empower Missouri say, “While Missouri’s numbers are slightly better than the national average, 42 units of housing available for ELI households for every 100 needed, the size of the gap is still sobering. The Missouri General Assembly must address this issue instead of kicking the can down the road.”

Without public subsidies, the private market is virtually never able to produce new rental homes that are affordable to people with the lowest incomes. A widespread belief is that private-sector rental homes “filter down” to lower-income households as they age and as new properties are developed for higher-income households. But the filtering process rarely results in rental homes inexpensive enough for the lowest-income renters to afford. When rents get too low to cover basic operating costs and maintenance, property owners in weak markets have an incentive to abandon the properties, and those in strong markets to redevelop them to charge higher rents.

“The Gap shows in clear relief why we must significantly invest in federal programs targeted to make homes affordable for people with the lowest incomes,” said Diane Yentel, NLIHC president and CEO. “Congress must protect and expand programs like the national Housing Trust Fund, housing vouchers, public housing, and others that house the most vulnerable seniors, people with disabilities, and low-wage families with children. We can end homelessness and housing poverty in America. All we need is the will.”

Oxford added, “We hope that Gov. Parson recognizes that affordable housing is also workforce housing, since workforce development is his number one priority. Creation of affordable housing gives workers the stability they need to serve their employers well, and it also creates jobs in local economies, as rehabilitation and construction generates hiring of carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and workers in many other crafts. We all win when we invest in affordable housing.”

For additional information, visit: