Thu, Apr 14, 2022 4:15 PM
By By Kim Jarrett The Center Square, The Center Square
(The Center Square) - The demand for affordable housing is high in Arkansas, but homebuilders say they are challenged by supply chain issues that leave them waiting for supplies for months.
The state lacks more than 51,000 affordable homes for low-income renters, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
The market is also scarce for homebuyers. A report released this week by the National Association of Realtors showed potential homeowners are stymied by a lack of affordable housing and a competitive market where multiple offers are made on houses.
Homebuilders can wait as long as 15 weeks to get some supplies, said Stephanie Stipins, executive director of Arkansas Home Builders Association and Greater Fort Smith Area Home Builders Association.
"These national issues aren't just impacting builders, they are impacting millions of Americans who are delaying and dropping out of the housing market," Stipins said in a news release from Arkansas Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman. "Homeownership should not be a unique privilege, but the cost of materials, delays in supplies and rising cost of housing will continue to keep people out of homeownership if we don't get control of them."
Boozman met with Fort Smith-area home builders this week and blamed the supply chain issues on the Biden administration.
"Arkansans are paying higher prices across the board as a result of President Biden's reckless tax-and-spending plan," Boozman said.
The National Home Builders Association is also calling on the Biden administration for help. The group urged its 140,000 members on Thursday to sign a letter urging the president to take action.
"An unexpectedly quick rise in interest rates, rising home prices and rents, and escalating lumber and material costs have significantly decreased housing affordability conditions, particularly for entry-level buyers and renters," the organization said in the letter. "A shortage of entry-level housing has strong implications for the wealth, health and stability of American communities."
The group also proposed a solution.
"An important first step to address housing affordability challenges in this current high-inflation environment would be to immediately suspend tariffs on softwood lumber imports from Canada and to move quickly to enter into negotiations with Canada to pursue a new, long-term softwood lumber agreement," the group said in a blog post. "And seeking immediate remedies to lumber and building material supply chain bottlenecks will lower construction costs and increase production of badly needed affordable housing."