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Little Rock city officials break ground on affordable housing development

Daniel Breen
Little Rock Ward 6 City Director Doris Wright (left) and Mayor Frank Scott Jr. (second from left) break ground on a new affordable housing development Thursday in Little Rock's John Barrow neighborhood.

A new initiative by the City of Little Rock to build more affordable housing is getting underway.

In his State of the City address last month, Mayor Frank Scott Jr. announced plans to build 100 new units of affordable housing in the city. On Thursday, Scott joined city officials in breaking ground on one of those houses, located on Lange Street in Little Rock’s John Barrow neighborhood.

Scott said it’s part of his administration’s overall strategy to boost development in areas south of Interstate 630 and east of Interstate 30.

“We understand as a city that’s growing in population, a city that’s growing in economic activity, we have to ensure that our residents are not priced out. We have to ensure that our residents understand how we close wealth gaps within our city and within our state. It starts with owning a home,” Scott said.

The city is partnering with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund construction of the homes, through its Home Investment Partnership Program and through Community Development Block Grants. Ward 6 City Director Doris Wright said providing low-to-moderate income residents with a path to homeownership will boost the city’s economy as a whole.

“Affordable housing is a necessity, and it is the foundation of generational wealth. And the only way that that is going to happen in an urban setting is if, as the mayor said, we are intentional about it,” Wright said.

Little Rock’s water and wastewater utilities are also partnering with the city to provide lower-cost services to new development in traditionally under-represented parts of the city. Roma Isom, founder of In Affordable Housing, Inc. and developer of the project, says another six units are in various stages of planning and construction nearby.