Missouri Advocates Unite Around Shared Vision for Legislative Engagement

Empower Missouri set out to build its Affordable Housing Coalition – a multidisciplinary coalition centered on affordable housing – following its 2018 Housing Empowers conference. After a year of intentional relationship building, the group is ready to take on the state’s 2020 legislative session with nine new policy priorities to help pave the way to ensuring every Missourian’s housing needs are met.

The Housing Empowers conference held in November 2018 brought over 100 advocates together from across the state. Empower Missouri challenged those in attendance to situate the affordable housing crisis in Missouri within the larger context of public policy, systemic racism, and the social safety net. Advocates left the conference energized for the work ahead, focused on what it will it take for every person in Missouri to have access to a safe and affordable home. 

Empower Missouri began building its multisector Affordable Housing Coalition shortly after the 2018 conference, meeting in January 2019 to envision what a more perfect Missouri would look like as it relates to housing. Empower Missouri then focused on connecting with regional organizations across the state through in-person, one-on-one meetings with key people working in the criminal justice, disability rights, civil rights, and healthcare sectors. The coalition met again in September 2019 and finalized its list of nine policy priorities for the upcoming state legislative session.

One of these priorities is to bring Missouri back into compliance with the Fair Housing Act. The state’s passage of SB 43 in 2017 limited how Missourians could bring charges of housing discrimination, leaving Missouri noncompliant with the Fair Housing Act and costing the state nearly $500,000 a year previously allocated by HUD to address housing discrimination. Additional policy priorities developed by the Affordable Housing Coalition include:

  • Reforms to Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and evictions
  • Tenant protections
  • Reinstating the state’s match for Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LITHCs) and preserving existing affordable homes under the LIHTC program
  • Creating a refundable State earned income tax credit (EITC)
  • Banning dated ordinances that limit access to certain communities
  • Increasing funds in the Missouri Housing Trust Fund
  • Eliminating source-of-income discrimination

“We took our time to build intention and purpose into our mission. These priorities are designed to support the housing needs of those who are most vulnerable,” said Sarah Owsley Townsend, Empower Missouri policy and advocacy lead.

All organizations in the coalition have been involved in developing the strategy for these priorities and are now preparing for advocacy efforts to advance them in the 2020 legislative session.

More information about Empower Missouri and its Affordable Housing Coalition is at: https://empowermissouri.org/