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A Letter from the Publisher: June 2023

Erica Pefferman

Reflecting on what to write for my publisher’s letter, I thought of all the places I’ve called home. I’ve lived in Carl Junction, a tiny suburb of Joplin, MO, as a single mother creating a safe space for myself and three small children, and that was home because I was born there and my family was close by. I’ve lived in Columbia where I had my fifth child, and that was home because we were raising our family and had found a church to belong to. I’ve lived in Boonville where we decided to raise our littles in a small-town environment on a small farm we all loved, and that was home as we tended chickens and gardened and fished in our pond. And then as a single mother again, I’ve chosen to come home to Columbia because it’s truly become and will always be my home with my dear friends and colleagues. Even my business is named after it. But whatever town I was in, I was fortunate to always have a safe place to call home.  

I’ve had tiny houses and larger houses and most of my Pinterest board is about the dream house that I will someday build. But we aren’t all so blessed to have the comfort and security of a home we can call ours. Columbia has its own share of problems, but there is one that really stands out. Some of you may not even think of this as a problem, but it is one that touches many other things that you do see. There is an extreme lack of affordable housing in our community which has created tenuous situations for many of our families. Without a secure and safe home, children find it difficult to attend and succeed in school. With the stress of an ever-changing home situation, instances of domestic violence rise. The ability to find and keep work and even transportation to and from work and school all can be attributed to if that family has a steady and secure housing situation. It’s a problem that has a wide ripple effect.  

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Some people call it workforce housing. Some call it affordable housing. Regardless of the name, we need more of it. The Columbia Housing Authority has hundreds of people on the waiting list. As many as 1300 Columbia families qualify for housing, but the inventory isn’t there. Randy Cole and the Columbia Housing Authority have great plans to address this, but it’s not enough. The price of materials is high. The building codes are arduous and add significant costs to any building project. Home prices in general have skyrocketed in Columbia creating a lack of upward movement which would open lower priced inventory.  

I don’t have the solution to this problem, but I have to think that as a town blessed with so many resources and smart people we can figure it out. I think the answer lies somewhere in between making it easier to build more inventory at any price level allowing for movement, the Columbia Land Grant which makes buying homes more affordable, the Columbia Housing Authority expansion plan, and the work of non-profits that build homes such as CMCA and Job Point. Maybe you have an idea? I suggest you call your city council person and talk to them about what they see and what plans our city has to address it. Because, when all our families have a safe place to call home, the entire city benefits.

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