Leading NWA Businesses Invest $40 Million In Affordable Communities

Cross-sector effort will bring 345 affordable rental units to the region.

LAST UPDATED • November 9th, 2021

Excellerate Foundation (formerly Endeavor Foundation) announced today that leading local businesses are investing $40 million in equity to support five new affordable housing developments in Northwest Arkansas. The five developments will create 345 rental units for lower-income families and will run, on average, 49% below current fair market rent. This savings will result in $65 million in rental savings for such families over the next 35 years.

This investment is being made through the "NWA Regional Fund", a tax credit syndicate that will provide the needed capital, as structured by WNC, a premier affordable housing real estate investment firm.

“Establishing this fund demonstrates innovative thinking and collaboration among local businesses”, says Christine Cormier, executive vice president – fund management and investor relations for WNC. “In 50 years of operation, WNC has seen only two other states that have been able to put together a regional fund like this one. Arkansas now joins this elite group.”

“It is amazing to see so many peoplefrom corporations, developers, city government, the faith community, and nonprofitsstep up to support affordable housing solutions in response to the recent Walton Family Foundation study, ‘Our Housing Future’," said Jeff Webster, president/CEO of Excellerate Foundation.

The five sites are located throughout Northwest Arkansas: two in Fayetteville, two in Springdale, and one in Bentonville. One of these developments, Patriot Park in Fayetteville, will prioritize affordable housing for veterans.

"We are excited to be part of the solution here in Northwest Arkansas and have been appreciative of the support by so many," said Jim Petty, president and CEO of Strategic Realty, one of the three developers involved.

High quality, affordable developments like these address the needs of those who are the foundation of the regionfirefighters, teachers, police officers, restaurant workers and more. They serve the community but struggle with the increasingly high cost of housing in Northwest Arkansas. Such developments also help those who have served in the past, such as veterans, and the future leaders who are just graduating from college.

"These developments will help a broad spectrum of people across our community," said Webster. "And they are more than just infrastructure. We are building affordable communities, where additional services and resources are available for residents, since housing instability is often an indicator of many other challenges for a household."

"In the past, investors from across the country would form the syndicate for such developments," said Petty. "This is a great example of Northwest Arkansas coming together to recognize a major issue in the community and take decisive action across multiple sectors to address it.”

“This collaboration is an example of the community-led solutions that will be essential to supporting the future housing needs of the region,” said Nelson Peacock, president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council. “The workforce housing center will build on these efforts by ensuring working families have access to high-quality, attainable housing connected to opportunities and experiences.

Census data shows that there are tens of thousands of people in Northwest Arkansas having to pay rents in excess of 30% to 50% of their income just to house their families. This is unsustainable for lower-income families and can easily spiral them into crisis.

"We are proud to be joining other leading businesses in taking tangible steps to address housing in NWA," said Gary Head, chairman, CEO, and president of Signature Bank. "It will take all of us working together to continue to unlock solutions for the people of our community."

Opportunities remain to participate in the "NWA Regional Fund", so If you are interested, please contact Excellerate at info@excelleratefoundation.com.

About Excellerate Foundation

For more than 20 years, Excellerate Foundation (formerly Endeavor Foundation) has worked diligently to improve the lives of all those who call the region home, having invested over $115 million into the community. By identifying our most pressing needs, connecting the key stakeholders that shape our daily lives, and helping drive lasting change, Excellerate wants to give everyone in Northwest Arkansas the opportunity to thrive.