SPRINGFIELD, Mo– Springfield has been long talked about as a reasonably cheap place to live in Missouri, especially compared to St. Louis or Kansas City.
The website Kiplinger even ranked Springfield at 19 of its article, “25 Cheapest U.S. Cities to Live In”.
Now that may be true. But Forward SGF, an organization focused on bettering the City of Springfield, says poverty, homelessness, and low wages were some of the top issues people in Springfield brought up during community workshops.
Forward SGF details the findings from the community workshops in their Issues and Opportunities Report.
The report lists all the issues people cared most about and tallies up each time a particular issue was mentioned. For the housing category, nearly 350 people voiced complaints from lack of affordable housing options to lack of rental regulation.
Sherry Blair, with Affordable House Action Board, says a majority of her tenants do work and want to be able to pay their bills each month.
“But you’re talking maybe minimum wage up to 10 to 12 dollars an hour and that’s very hard to make it if you have, I’m just using an example,” Blair said. “Two or three kids and you’re not getting any child support. It’s not that the rent is high, but when you’re trying to do all these other things then you have to find a cheaper place to rent.”
The report also states Springfield has grown 12 percent in 20 years and is projected to grow four percent in the next five years.
When the report talks about income, it states the average household income in Springfield is $37,125. If you are making that much and you want to find a place to live, the average rent, 30 percent of your income, would be roughly $1,000.
In 2019, 62% of Springfield households earned less than $50,000 a year.
“I think it’s hard to find decent, safe affordable housing that’s at a good rate. That people can afford,” Blair said. “There is a lot of wonderful housing in Springfield, but there’s not a lot of that for low income.”
According to Forward SGF, there is an identified shortage of housing units that are affordable at both the lowest and highest income levels. A graph in the report, labeled Renter-Occupied Housing Income/Unit Comparison, shows how many apartment units Springfield is lacking or has too much of, based on income.
Forward SGF’s report goes on to say the poverty rate in Springfield is 25.7 percent, with one out of every 3.9 residents living in poverty. The report says Springfield’s annual mean wage is $41,610 is lower than the rest of the state, which is $46,460.
The need for greater diversity in housing choice was a frequent concern, according to the report. It states that the average mortgage payment and apartment rent in Springfield are 28 and 29 percent lower than the national average.
“Despite lower housing costs, an estimated 24 percent of households in Springfield were considered cost-burdened (paying more than 30 percent of income for housing) in 2017,” says the report.