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It’s often said a person is only “one paycheck away” from a significant change in lifestyle – most notably, the loss of shelter.

A publication from the Missouri Community Action Network, working in partnership with Missourians to End Poverty, took a snapshot of housing in the state of Missouri. 

Using data from various reporting agencies, here’s a look at what the 2018 Missouri Poverty Report shows in regards to housing in the state of Missouri.

The report – using data from the United States Census Bureau – reports there are 2,760,084 housing units in Missouri, with 2,372,362 households. Of those units, 66.8 percent are owner occupied, with 2.48 persons per household. The median value of owner-occupied housing is $141,200 and 84 percent are living in the same house as the previous year. The foreclosure rate is .83 percent.

The final number – from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness – showed 6,194 homeless people.

When it comes to Missouri fair market rent and housing wage, the “Out of Reach” report published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition showed – in 2017 – the average fair market rent for one-bedroom housing was $638 per month. And, the report stated, a person needs to make $12.27 per hour – or, $25,528 per year – to afford this housing.

The report goes on to state the fair market rent for two-bedroom housing was $815 per month and, to afford this housing, a person needs to make $15.67 per hour, or $32,588 annually.

For those working on the minimum wage, the report says in no state can a minimum wage worker afford a 1-bedroom rental home at fair market rent, working a standard 40-hour work week, without more than 30 percent of that income going toward housing.

But, that is just one of the expenses involved in housing.

Using data from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, the 2018 report looked at the energy expense on families, noting high household energy expenditures and below-average family incomes strain the budget of Missouri’s lower and middle income families.

The report states Missouri’s 1.2 million households with pre-tax annual incomes below $50,000 represent 52 percent of Missouri’s families – spending an estimated average of 17 percent of their after-tax income on residential and transportation energy.

According to the report, energy expenses for 732,000 Missouri households earning less than $30,000 before taxes are 22 percent of their after-tax family incomes (before accounting for any energy assistance programs).

The report states minorities and senior citizens are among the most vulnerable to energy price increases due to their relatively low household incomes.

And, data provided by the Income Housing Coalition for the report states there is a shortage of affordable rental homes available to extremely low-income households (ELI). ELI households have income at or below the poverty guideline or 30 percent of the area median income. Many of these households are severely cost burdened, spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs and utilities.

Nationwide, the report states, 86.9 percent of ELI households are cost burdened and 71.2 percent are severely cost burdened. In Missouri, 87 percent are cost burdened and 69 percent are severely cost burdened.

What is the situation for the worst case housing needs? According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, those households do not receive government housing assistance and pay more than half of their income for rent, live in severely inadequate conditions, or both.

The 2018 report states high rents in proportion to renter incomes remain dominant among households with worst case needs, leaving these renters with substantial unmet need for affordable housing. These households increased in 2015 to 8.30 million households, up from 7.72 million in 2013 and approaching the record high of 8.48 million in 2011.

How does the state track homelessness in Missouri? One method is a point-in-time count. The report states this is an unduplicated count on a single night each January of the people in a community who are experiencing homelessness, including both sheltered and unsheltered populations.

The data used for the 2018 report was from January of 2017 and provided by the Missouri Housing Development Commission. The results showed 1,243 people and was broken down into the following factors: households at 862, unsheltered individuals at 291, sheltered individuals at 952 and chronic homelessness at 237.

Other characteristics included domestic violence accounting for 24 percent, substance abuse/disorder at 21 percent, mental illness at 16 percent and HIV/AIDS at less than 1 percent.

The 2018 report also took a look at youth homelessness in the United States. According to information from the U.S. Census Bureau, on any given night, more than 61,000 families with children, 3,800 unaccompanied children under 18, and 31,900 unaccompanied youth (18–24) sleep in a homeless shelter or are unsheltered. The report also states more than half a million families stay in homeless shelters and 1.3 million schoolchildren experience some form of homelessness.

And, as many as 1.7 million children — most between 15 and 17 — are told to leave or stay away from home for at least a night.

The report states the females make up 54 percent of the homeless youth in Missouri, with male at 42 percent and transgender at less than 4 percent. Sixty-three percent are ages 18-24, with 37 percent under the age of 18.

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