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Report: Affordable housing is out of reach in Missouri for low-wage workers

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A new national report finds affordable house in the state of Missouri is out of reach for low income workers. In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent in Missouri, full-time workers need to earn $16.66 per hour.

The report, Out of Reach, was jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a research and advocacy organization dedicated solely to achieving affordable and decent homes for people with the lowest incomes, and Empower Missouri.

This year’s report comes amidst the pandemic which created an economic crisis that pushed millions of low-wage workers out of work. Prior to the pandemic, more than 7.6 million extremely low-income renters were already spending more than half of their limited incomes on housing costs, sacrificing other necessities to do so. After a year of job losses, furloughs, and limited hours, many of these households will be even worse off.

Across the country, a renter needs to earn $24.90 per hour to afford a modest two-bedroom rental home without spending more than 30% of their income on housing costs, or $20.40 per hour to afford a one-bedroom home.

While the Housing Wage varies by state and metropolitan area, officials say low-wage workers everywhere struggle to afford their housing.

“Missourians are hard working and dedicated. During the global pandemic, our lowest wage workers have taken the brunt of the economic toll. This report demonstrates that these same families already were at a disadvantage by being unable to secure affordable housing after working a full time job. Our neighbors deserve better,” Empower Missouri’s Policy and Advocacy Director Sarah Owsley said.

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Missouri extends energy assistance application deadline

JOPLIN, Mo. – Missouri residents will get an extra month to apply for the Economic Security Corporation’s (ESC) Energy Assistance Program. Governor Mike Parson extended he deadline to May 31 and expanded income eligibility for the program.

The income guidelines have increased to 60% State Median Income (SMI) guidelines. To be eligible residents must:

  • Be responsible for paying home heating costs
  • Have $3,000 or less in bank accounts, retirement accounts, or investments
  • All household members must be a U.S. citizen or legally admitted for permanent residence
  • Meet 60% SMI guidelines

Residents of Barton, Jasper, Newton and McDonald Counties can find information on getting assistance at the ESC’s utility assistance page. Applications can be submitted online, by email, in-person at the ESC’s Central Office, or by mail.