Northwest Arkansas faces a ‘success crisis’

As more and more people move to Northwest Arkansas due to affordability, housing prices are rising due to rapid population growth.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. –Richard Florida addressed the Northwest Arkansas Council on Thursday, warning of a “crisis of success” in the region.

Data presented at the Northwest Arkansas Council’s annual meeting shows that home prices over the past five years have risen 43% in Benton County and 47% in Washington County.

Florida explained that other major cities have suffered an urban crisis as essential workers (teachers, paramedics, police officers and supporters of the region’s structure) move away due to factors such as the cost of living and the availability.

“People think that could never happen in northwest Arkansas… ‘It’s an affordable place, we’ve got a lot of houses, he’ll never get it,'” Florida said.

“Well wake up. After the COVID pandemic in 2022, when you look at the stats… [Northwest Arkansas has the] second largest increase in median house prices in each of the 350 metropolitan areas. »

Florida helped develop the council’s strategic plan for the next five years. He explained that the plan is not to stop growing, but to have a smart and intentional strategy for continued growth.

“I talk to drivers, I talk to waiters, I talk to young people, [who say] ‘we can’t afford to buy a house, how do we buy a house? We are going to buy a house and there are people who come here from San Francisco, New York, LA, and they have money because they have sold their house and they have more money and there is a group of investors who want the house and can’t get a house,” Florida said.

“It’s threatening…It’s not just an issue of affordability, but it’s also threatening a central power of this affordable quality of life that has underpinned [NWA’s] successful economic growth.”

Andrea Evette said she left Fayetteville, but it wasn’t her first choice.

“I find myself commuting between Siloam Springs and Fayetteville just to live my life, and with the cost of gas, it’s even harder,” Evette said.

Evette explains that the cost of living and availability caused her to leave the town she still lives in.

“My work hasn’t necessarily increased, I haven’t started making more profit, but you know, as a freelancer, I have to fill that gap,” Evette said. “For people in regular employment, salary increases do not coincide with the cost of living.”

According to the report, the NWA council is developing a five-year plan. They say some action items might take just a few weeks, while others may take the entire 5 years.

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