Northwest Arkansas organizations are working to address housing affordability with the creation of a new workforce housing center.
With support from the Walton Family Foundation, the Northwest Arkansas Council will be incubating this workforce housing center to tackle housing affordability in the Northwest Arkansas region. The center will work with community stakeholders and help develop housing options and mixed-income neighborhoods for individuals and families.
A key priority will be promoting the development of housing close to employment hubs, lifestyle hot spots and more.
“Teachers, firefighters, health care workers and other residents face increasing obstacles in finding housing at affordable rates relative to their incomes,” Northwest Arkansas council president and CEO Nelson Peacock said in a statement. “These barriers often prevent people from living in and contributing to the richness of the communities where they work. Ensuring our residents have quality, attainable homes must be a priority.”
A 2019 Walton Family Foundation report found that 80,000 families are expected to move to the four largest cities in Northwest Arkansas by 2040. To match this growth, housing would need to grow by 2,900 units per year, while housing only grew by an average of 1,400 units per year from 2010-16, according to the report.
In addition to a limited supply of housing, one study has determined that housing costs are increasing. The University of Arkansas Center for Business and Economic Research’s Skyline Report revealed that home costs increased 11 percent in the past year. The average cost of purchasing a house in Benton County was $293,403, while the cost in Washington County was $268,987.
A national search is currently underway for an executive director to lead the workforce housing center.