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Residents of Little Rock affected by a shortage of code enforcement personnel



Little Rock, Arkansas – There is a paucity of code enforcement personnel in Little Rock. They are responsible for making sure landlords maintain safe and legal housing.

Kevin Howard, director of Housing and Neighborhood Programs, claimed that their enforcement staff falls far short of what is required.

“We had a population increase from 2010 to the 2020 census, but the number of code officers has not increased,” Howard said. “Over 30,000 complexes as far as units around the city, so it’s hard to cover those.”

According to Howard, Little Rock should have almost twice as many police officers as it does now. Due to a staffing shortage, fewer officers do preventative checks, which causes a buildup of violations.

The University District Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization that collaborates with the city to provide citizens with secure, affordable housing, is led by Barrett Allen.

“A lot of those unfortunate code violations go unchecked,” Allen said. They begin to spiral, build up and then over a 10 to 15-year period end up with a Big Country Chateau situation.”

The company employs numerous residents of dilapidated structures including Little Rock’s Big Country Chateau housing complex.

“Individuals are finding themselves… living in situations where the houses are not up to a livable standard,” Allen said. “There is a shortage of housing units.”

According to Howard, they don’t have enough code enforcement to frequently investigate even operational buildings, let alone all vacant ones.

“It’s complaint-driven a lot of times,” Howard said. “We do have inspections on units that we try to do annually… It’s hard with the number of code officers we have.”

Despite the scarcity, Howard reassured that code officers always respond when called.

“If we know about it, and we go out, and we do an inspection, we provide that information to the management company and owner,” Howard said. “They’re required to do certain things within that time period.”

According to Howard, the agency anticipates receiving additional money from the city in the upcoming budget. Nonprofit organizations like the University District Development Corporation, meanwhile, call for more tenant-focused solutions.

“We can turn it around,” Allen said. “It’s going to take a true public-private partnership with the city out providing incentives.”

Call the housing and neighborhood office or 311 if you have concerns about safe housing in Little Rock.

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