Get our latest policy updates delivered to your inbox. Learn More

Poll: Missourians Call for Bold Action on Homelessness

More than 1,500 likely Missouri voters have shared their opinions in a survey, conducted January 8–10, 2024, signaling an urgent need for state leaders to take bold and innovative steps toward ending street camping and ensuring public safety.

In a resounding demonstration of empathy, 84% of Missourians say it is more compassionate to move individuals to available shelters than to leave them on the streets.

Although opinions are mixed on whether subsidized housing funds should be redirected toward emergency shelters, support for this approach jumps to a startling 59% once voters find out there are more than 2,000 Missourians sleeping on the streets each night.

A law prohibiting street camping in the state was overturned in 2023 on a technicality having to do with the title. However, lawmakers are seeking to correct the issue and reintroduce the law in the 2024 legislative session. When asked whether they support this effort, 60% responded in the affirmative.

A staggering 77% say they avoid going to areas where there are homeless individuals living on the streets. And a significant majority (63%) express concerns about the threats homeless encampments pose to public safety.

These sentiments underscore the urgent need for comprehensive and compassionate interventions that improve outcomes for the homeless and ensure the safety of the public.

The data also reveals an openness to change, with support for measures such as legally compelling individuals with severe mental illness to seek healthcare treatment (57%) and favoring mental health and substance abuse recovery programs (60%) over subsidized housing (19%).

Missouri stands at a crossroads, and its leaders have a unique opportunity to shape the future of homelessness policies. The narrative painted by the poll results invites state leaders to embrace a proactive stance.