Housing leaders gather to discuss proposed federal budget cuts

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COLUMBIA – Leaders from around Missouri in affordable housing and homelessness services gathered to discuss concerns about proposed federal budget cuts that could affect affordable housing in Missouri.

This conference by these leaders is in participation with the Our Homes, Our Voices: National Housing Week.

In May, the White House released its 2018 fiscal budget with cuts to Housing and Urban Development programs.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, more than 11.4 million extremely low-income (ELI) renters in the U.S. are having a hard time finding affordable housing.

There are less than 40 available and affordable homes per 100 ELI households in Boone County.

Jeanette Mott Oxford, the executive director of Empower Missouri, said they are concerned about recently proposed cuts by the House Budget Committee.

“We are really worried about what that would do to what’s in place now,” she said. “And our ability to stretch what’s there now because we do need to stretch it and we need to reach more people than we’ve been able to reach in the past.”

Oxford said she and other leaders spoke with a representative from Senator Roy Blunt, who is on the Transportation Housing and Urban Development committee.

“We hope that Senator Blunt will use his very favorable position and that he’s on the right committee to influence this situation,” she said.

Brad Bryan, the pastor at the Wilkes Boulevard United Methodist Church, said these budget cuts could greatly impact their Turning Point ministry. Bryan said much of the area for Turning Point in the church is partially funded by state and federal grants.

“Anything that we need to do to improve our services in a physical way, our physical building, that takes the possibility of those grants away from us,” he said.

Bryan said he hopes this issue is on the forefront of leaders minds.

“I hope that this work that we’re doing makes that a part of the decision making process,” he said. “It’s not all dollars and cents. It’s not all bottom line and it’s not all politics. We’re talking about Americans, we’re talking about human beings.”