FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — There’s a greater share of people who rent in this state than the national average, and that number is rising. For many people in Arkansas, the monthly payment is a burden each time it comes around.
Slaton Wood and Nick Ejiogu are roommates in Fayetteville, and both spend more than half their monthly pay on rent. The latest U.S. Census numbers show nearly half of Arkansas renters spend more than 30% of their pay on housing. As defined by the Bureau’s standards, this means people like Wood and Ejiogu are “burdened” by the expense of renting their homes.
“Yeah, it’s difficult,” Wood said. “Especially in a college town where jobs are hard to find, at least from what I’ve seen.”
Ejiogu said the rent was easier to pay when he lived in Little Rock, but in Fayetteville, housing costs more because there’s a higher demand.
“Paying rent was okay at first,” Ejiogu said. “Now, rent is coming back up on the first [of the month], and I’m like…ugh.”
Mervin Jebaraj is the director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas, and he said Arkansans in this spot have to make some tough choices.
“It’s okay to pay more than 30% for housing if you can reduce your transportation costs by living a lot closer to a lot of the amenities,” Jebaraj said.
To this end, Jebaraj said building and developing more housing will help turn around renters’ problems. Wood said he’s looking forward to the day where most of his money isn’t going toward housing.
“I’m gonna feel rich,” Wood said. “I’m gonna feel wealthy. I’m gonna feel good.”