SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Agencies are saying people who have been on the waiting list for affordable housing for one year to three years were just able to move in.
“I’ve been here for a little over a year,” Springfield resident Debby French said. “My rent is reasonable. They do maintenance. I really like it here.”
It took French nearly six months to get into her house. While she was waiting, she stayed with her daughter.
“I was in a bad accident,” French said. “I broke 18 bones, I broke my leg, I broke my ankle, I broke my wrist. I was living with my daughter until I could find housing. I’m too old to live with my daughter. People are supposed to live with their parents, you’re not supposed to live with your children.”
Now, people could be waiting up to three years for affordable housing.
“The National Low Income Housing Coalition did a study and locally we have a deficit of about 14,000 to 15,000 units that are needed to meet the needs of extremely low and very low income households,” Vice President of Affordable Housing and Home Prevention at Community Partnership of the Ozarks Michelle Garand said.
Garand said for some income-based subsidy programs, applicants are looking at a two year wait.
“I was one of the lucky ones, “French said “I’ve got a friend that’s on the waiting list and she has end-stage renal failure. She’s on dialysis. They’re telling her up to 3 years and what is she going to do.”
Other agencies are in the same boat.
“In January of 2020 just before the pandemic we started to top just over 100 people on the waiting list for Eden Village,” Chief Visionary Officer at Eden Village Nate Schlueter said. “Today we have about 180 people on our waiting list. Not all of them probably qualify but they are chronically homeless living. We’ve never had that many people on the waiting list.”
Agencies and their residents say the only way to fix the problem is to build.
“There’s lots of housing being built and a lot of that isn’t affordable for someone on the lower income level,” Schlueter said. “We need more affordable housing for people that are making $24,000 a year. The key is probably going to be an out of the box type thinking and for profits and nonprofits figuring how to partner.”
Another factor is the stigma around affordable housing.
“When people don’t want these complexes in their neighborhoods then there’s no place to put them,”
French said. “When you move into a housing complex, especially ones that are POAH, which is public housing, they do background checks, they make sure that the people don’t have any kind of felonies or issues because they want the neighborhood well.”
A goal of investing in a future so if the unexpected happens, people have something to fall back on. Eden Village is finishing up building it’s second community, with a third one following closely behind.
“Eden Village II will be fully accommodated with residents by November 30th, we will have the official grand opening,” Schlueter said. “We will break ground immediately on Eden Village III in February or March.”