A five-year attempt to maximize the benefits of Conway’s low and moderate income areas is in its second year, following a winter and spring of public input.
On of the four objectives in the latest action plan released earlier this year by city officials was to increase the supply of affordable suitable housing. According to the report, “The population in Conway has been rising rapidly over the last decade and a need to examine the existing and the provision of new affordable housing stock is present.”
Along those lines, the city could be looking into federal funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In exchange for any federal funds, the city would be required to submit HUD certification that it is “affirmatively furthering fair housing,” which would include overcoming impediments such as omissions or decisions about supplying certain housing based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status and mental or physical disability.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the population in the City of Conway increased from 2000 through 2009 from 43,176 to 59,511; this was a total increase of 16,344 persons or 37.9 percent. Between 2000 and 2009, Faulkner County showed significant increases in all age cohorts. The greatest change was seen in the group aged 55 to 64, which increased by 56.9 percent, followed by those aged 15 to 24, which increased by 43.2 percent.
From 2000 through 2009, the greatest growth in a racial group was seen in two or more races at 66.0 percent growth, followed by black at 60.0 percent growth. However, the Hispanic ethnic population grew twice as fast at 132.6 percent.
For all persons aged five or older in 2000, the city had a disability rate of 16.8 percent, below the national rate of 19.0 percent at that time. This percentage represented 6,665 persons living with a disability, and this population was concentrated in one area of the city.
In Faulkner County, the number of housing units increased by 26.7 percent from 2000 through 2009 and rose from 34,546 units to 43,777 units. Of the 17,286 units counted in the 2000 census in Conway, about 11,000 units or 63.7 percent of all units were single family type. An additional 16.3 percent were apartments, 8.1 percent were duplexes, and 7.6 percent were mobile homes.
In terms of fair housing complaints, Conway saw 11 complaints from 1999 to 2010. The most common of these came in terms of race or disability. According to a survey on fair housing in Conway, some respondents found fair housing laws difficult to understand. Many noted that discrimination is not well reported and that additional outreach and education efforts regarding fair housing are needed in the city.
To combat this, city officials have planned to set up educational opportunities for both consumers and providers of housing that would be carried out y the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission (AFHC), as well as establish baseline of the actual level and types of discrimination occurring in the community through testing and enforcement activities.
At the time of the 2000 census, 84 percent of the population in the city was white. Based on HUD’s definition, any area that had a white population ten percentage points or more higher at that time had a disproportionate share of the white population, which at the time included the northeast part of Conway.