BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Affordable housing can be hard to come by in Northwest Arkansas.
We've heard a lot about the issue in recent years, and now, the City of Bentonville is working on ways to help solve the problem.
Larry Kelly is a real estate broker who says his clients looking for affordable housing often end up just settling because they can’t afford anything else.
“Finding that product under 200,000 is really non-existent, hardly anymore. 300,000, there is still some product under 300,000 but it's not plentiful. And we're facing a real housing shortage in Northwest Arkansas,” said Larry Kelly.
The Bentonville housing affordability workgroup has been working since 2021 to see what barriers or challenges there are impeding affordable housing and what would help bring more to the city.
“There's a lot of need—almost 51% of our citizens find that our housing is cost prohibitive,” said Bill Burckart.
The Bentonville City Council approved the workgroup's plan in January, so now they are working to implement the recommendations.
“For the city to be a viable community and have the ample workforce that it needs, it has to have diverse housing options. So the first recommendation was to look at what options we aren't providing,” he said.
Bill Burckart is the owner of Burckart Construction and a city council member who served on this group. His company has been building affordable housing in Bentonville since the 90s. He says the high cost of land ultimately impacts housing prices. Because of that a lot of the Bentonville workforce doesn’t live in the city.
“They drive twenty or thirty minutes into town, which costs them money and transportation. We also found that the time it took to build and develop from zoning to moving people in has become 3 to 3 ½ years on a project,” he said.
Burckart says the workgroup wants to reduce the amount of time it takes to build and attract more developers.
The Bentonville housing affordability workgroup will continue working with the city to implement the zoning changes necessary to bring more affordable housing to the city.
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