Life On The Outside
"I mean there were some times I wouldn't be able to buy my kids the stuff that they wanted, so I would have to tell them 'no, I can't afford that right now, we don't have no money,'" said Misty Heistand, Boone county resident.
They both have an easier time now, but some people aren't so lucky. It's a complicated problem. Most services are in the center of Columbia. But a rapidly growing group that needs them are outside the city with no consistent way of getting the help they need.
"The services aren't out there. So if something happens they lose their job, or one partner gets sick, or something happens to the children how do they get where the services are?" said Almeta Crayton, Columbia city council member.
But higher city rents, taxes and utilities leave some people no choice. A mother of two says no matter what, she couldn't have stayed in the city.
"You were looking for other ways to heat the home, or get assistance in getting things done in the home, and staying over at friends' houses or something if you can't meet you bills," said Susan Wheeler, Boone county resident.
Now, she and her family get by living south of town. The director of the Voluntary Action Center says it didn't used to be so hard for her clients to live in Columbia.
"Many more were living within the city limits close to our office, and over the years this has changed. We've seen more of a migration to the county," said Cindy Mustard, Columbia resident.
She says living outside the city adds to their problems.
"And so the day to day access of transportation into services, health care, food, clothing whatever it might be, makes it a real challenge for a lot of people who live outside the city limits," Mustard said.
The Central Missouri Food Bank is a big resource to people who need an extra hand.
"We'd probably run out of food, probably in the middle of the month, and be scraping to get money together to try to get just a little bit here and there," said Deloris Boykin, Columbia resident.
Boykin came down with her parents from 15 miles away, but at least they have a car. The food bank manager says as the city expands, people who need food but don't have cars have a serious problem.
"The people who need the services the most are being pushed farther away from the services just by basic economics. And so they're getting out farther away and yet having less reliable transportation," said Sean Ross, pantry directory.
But getting to the pantry is only half the battle. Almeta Crayton and Cindy Mustard both said it would help to have more public transportation out into the county. In the meantime, the food bank would welcome anyone willing to drive food out to people who need it. The Missouri Department of Economic Development says, about half way through last year, Missouri had the fifth lowest cost of living in the U.S.
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