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Need for affordable housing grows in Mid-Missouri as state’s homeless population expands


Sunday marks national "Roof over your Head Day" which reminds people to be thankful for basic necessities such as a home. It also creates awareness for the current housing crisis in the United States.

ABC 17 News obtained the latest Missouri Point in Time Count for region 5. Region 5 contains most counties in Mid-Missouri including Boone, Callaway, Phelps and Pulaski Counties. The Missouri Point in Time Count gathers data on a night in January every year and collects information on people experiencing homelessness.

Missouri Point in Time Count Map

The numbers show 620 individuals in region 5 are experiencing homelessness. That is up 16% from 533 individuals in 2022.

Of the 620 people experiencing homelessness, the count clarifies 455 of those individuals are sheltered and 165 are unsheltered. A sheltered individual is a person living in a shelter at the time of the count. Unsheltered individuals are people who are living in places not normally used for sleeping, such as a car or a tent.

In region five from 2022 to this year, veteran homelessness increased by 7% and chronic homelessness increased by 105%. In the same time frame, family homelessness decreased by 23%.

Program Director of Love Columbia Conrad Hake said the nonprofit had more than 4,400 requests for assistance this year.

"About two-thirds of [requests] have been related to housing needs in some shape or form," Hake said.

Love Columbia is a non-profit which helps anyone in the Columbia Community who is struggling with basic needs such as housing or food.

Deshayda Bradford is a Columbia resident and mother of five young children. Her oldest is seven and she had twins in July. In August, she started receiving help with her rent from Love Columbia.

"They kinda just picked up the slack and I needed that," Bradford said. "I was on edge. Of course you try not to show those things to my kids, because you know kids can pick up on emotions... but it's a relief now."

Bradford said without the help of Love Columbia, she believes her family would not be in their home.

"They're accepting of you and they give you that sense of hope," Bradford said.

Habitat for Humanity recommends individuals spend a maximum of 30% of one's gross income on housing. But with rising costs with inflation, the organization says one in four households spend more than that.

"The pandemic really impacted the housing market. We've seen rent prices increase at least 10% each year," said Randy Cole, CEO of the Columbia Housing Authority.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition says a person in Missouri needs to earn at least $38,553 a year in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment at a fair market rent price. Missouri's current minimum wage is $12.

The organization says there are over 204,000 extremely low income renter households in Missouri. But there's only 89,440 affordable and available rental homes for low income renters.

Low Income Renter Households in Missouri Graphic (KMIZ)

"We've been seeing a shortage of the availability of affordable housing," Cole said. "As a community, we really need additional units that we can match our vouchers to participants and participants to housing."

Cole told ABC 17 News the City of Columbia has about 750 units of affordable housing. But as of late November, said there is a wait list of around 1,200 households.

"It's a pretty significant wait. Oftentimes people are in less desirable housing situations," Cole said. "That's why they're seeking housing from us, either homeless or couch surfing, living in a hotel or doubled up in a tough place."

Cole said in the next three to five years, the housing authority is hoping to add about 50 more units.

In the capital city, the Jefferson City Housing Authority has 318 units. Those units include one to four bedroom apartments along with a few houses.

The Salvation Army Center of Hope Director for Jefferson City said the area is still feeling the effects from the 2019 tornado.

"That tornado took over 600 units. A majority of those were affordable housing units [and] the city really hasn't rebuilt any. We lost a lot of housing units and we haven't rebuilt them," said Brian Vogeler with the Salvation Army.

A sign for the Dulle & Hamilton Towers which are a part of the Jefferson City Housing Authority's low-income housing. (KMIZ)

Vogeler said prior to the tornado, the organization could usually get people placed into housing, but now it is very difficult to place people in Jefferson City.

"A lot of times when we look to place people, we start looking outside of Jeff City because the housing inventory is usually a little bit better in some of those outlining cities," Vogeler said.

With a rise in prices due to inflation, Cole said there are a few things to keep in mind when searching for housing.

"Always have a budget and know what you can afford but also think through long term maintenance," Cole said. "Maintenance costs of housing and transportation are big things to consider."

Article Topic Follows: Homelessness

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Meghan Drakas

Meghan joined ABC 17 News in January 2021.
The Penn State grad is from the Philadelphia suburbs where she interned with several local TV stations.


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