Housing advocates in St. Louis, Missouri use Housing America’s “There’s No Place Like Home” report to advocate for improved housing conditions for the 17,000 families in St. Louis living in substandard housing.
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Embargo for release until Wednesday, April 7, 12 p.m. EST
April 1, 1999
Contact: Laura Barrett, Housing Comes First, 314-367-2993
Lisa Chen, Tommy McDonald, 415-255-1946
B-roll footage of substandard housing, doctors examining kids can be downlinked at 2 pm CST, April 7 by calling 415-255-1946
Children of More Than 26,000 St. Louis Families At Risk of Disease, Death, Injury, and Educational Failure from Inadequate Housing, New Report Finds
Nearly 5 Million Kids Nationwide Suffer from Lack of Affordable Housing — A Significant Predictor of Kids’ Health and Academic Performance, New National Report Finds
What: Press Conference
When: Wednesday, April 7, 1999, 10:30 a.m.
Where: Address, City, Cross Street
Who: Laura Barrett, Executive Director, Housing Comes First, Ruth Ehrmans, Citizens for Missouri’s Children.
St. Louis, MO – Hundreds of thousands of America’s children are suffering from disease, hunger, serious injury, and educational failure from living in substandard shelter as the housing crisis worsens for their families, says a new nationwide report by Housing America and the Doc4Kids Project. Simultaneous press conferences in St. Louis, MO, Washington, DC, Columbus, OH, and San Francisco, CA will be held Wednesday, April 7 to release the report and to launch a national field campaign to increase funding for affordable housing.
In the past two years alone, an estimated 1.5 million low-cost housing units have been lost to the rental market, according to the report, which also shows how the housing crisis has spread from urban centers and the suburbs to heartland states like St. Louis.
“More than 9,000 St. Louis families spend more than half their income on rent and an additional 17,000 currently live in substandard conditions,” said Laura Barrett, Executive Director of Housing Comes First, a non-profit grassroots citizens’ coalition based in St. Louis. “When families cannot afford safe and affordable housing, it’s the children who pay the greatest price.”
The shortage of affordable housing faced by more than 12.5 million Americans last year — nearly a third of them children – is among the most significant predictors of a children’s health, concludes the report, which was authored by physicians at Boston Medical Center and housing experts at Housing America, a new national grassroots field campaign committed to making housing affordable for families. An estimated 13,414 families in St. Louis are on the Section 8 waiting list, according to St. Louis’s 1998 Consolidated Plan.
There’s No Place Like Home: How America’s Housing Crisis Threatens Our Children, the first report to take a comprehensive look at the link between affordable housing and children’s health, includes previously unreleased data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as research from the Centers for Disease Control, leading medical and public health journals and firsthand observation by pediatricians across the country.
Among the key findings of the report:
- 21,000 children have stunted growth and 120,000 children suffer from anemia because their families must choose between food and rent.
- 10,000 children between the ages of 4 and 9 are hospitalized for asthma attacks each year because of cockroach infestation at home.
- 2.5 million IQ points will be lost among children ages 1-5 from lead poisoning, with virtually all affected children poisoned at home.
- Children who are forced to move from school to school because their families are unable to obtain affordable housing are significantly more likely to fail a grade and have behavioral problems.
In light of these findings, Housing America urges Congress to:
- Provide 100,000 new Section 8 vouchers.
- Protect affordable housing stock at risk of conversion or deterioration by approving HR 425 (Vento, D-MN), which would provide matching federal funds to states and localities for such initiatives.
- Increase the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) by approving HR 175 (R-CT) and amending the legislation to assist more families below the federal poverty line.
- Ensure affordable housing for kids with severe asthma or chronic diseases by earmarking a $50 million Section 8 certificate reserve for their families.
- Eliminate the “shelter deduction cap” so families forced to pay high market rents receive their fair allocation of food stamps.