The city of West Memphis is located along the Mississippi River in Crittenden County on the eastern edge of Arkansas. The city is six miles from Memphis, Tennessee, and is a part of the Memphis/Arkansas/Mississippi Metropolitan Statistical Area.
West Memphis is requesting $570,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to meet its housing and nonhousing community development needs.
The city's draft Consolidated Plan was available for public review and comment from March 13, 1995, to April 12, 1995. A public hearing, announced in a public notice and in a classified advertisement, was held on April 17, 1995, to solicit community input. All necessary corrections were noted. Copies of the plan were sent to various agencies mentioned in the draft and involved in the development process.
During the past decade, the city's population has increased very slightly, rising from 28,138 in 1980 to 28,259 in 1990. The 1990 census reported that among the city's 9,861 households, the overall household size was decreasing, while the number of elderly and nontraditional households was growing. The median age was 30 in 1990, versus 24 in 1980. Residents age 17 and younger constituted 31 percent of the population, and those age 65 and over constituted about 10 percent. Nearly 62 percent of all adults were high school graduates.
The West Memphis median family income (MFI) was $27,523, versus the national MFI of $35,939. Furthermore, 23 percent of the population live below the poverty level. Between 1980 and 1990, the white population decreased by 11 percent, while the African-American population increased by 20 percent. Racial and ethnic minorities and lower- income households are concentrated in the southeastern section of the city.
In Crittenden County, 101 cases of HIV and 44 cases of AIDS have been reported, and the number of cases has been steadily increasing during the past few years. Approximately 300 people in Crittenden County have serious mental illnesses.
The latest unemployment figures for West Memphis show a dramatic decrease in the unemployment rate, which fell from 9 percent in 1980 to 5 percent in April 1993. Most jobs are in the service sector, with the largest employers being in health and educational services. Recent industrial development and active industry recruitment by the chamber of commerce are expected to bring new high-paying jobs to the city.
West Memphis has recently annexed 2,000 acres of largely vacant land, which can be used for both single-family and multifamily residential development. The city anticipates an increase in the number of lower-income renters during the next 5 years.
The city's high-priority needs include physical housing conditions and affordable housing for renters who earn less than 80 percent of MFI and homeowners who earn less than 50 percent of MFI. Medium- or low-priority needs include emergency, transitional, and permanent housing opportunities for the homeless, with emphasis being placed on homeless families who need services.
In 1990 West Memphis had 10,505 housing units, an 8-percent increase from 1980. The overall vacancy rate was 6 percent. The monthly median rent was $343, while the median mortgage payment was $547 per month.
Single-family dwellings were the predominant housing type. The median value of a home was $50,900 in 1990, versus $32,500 in 1980. Homes constructed during the late 1980s cost between $45,000 and $55,000, and the market quickly absorbed these units, reflecting the demand for this type of housing. Conversion of rental units into condominiums or cooperatives for low- or moderate-income households is not expected.
Of all housing units, 2,361 (22 percent) are substandard. Although the majority of these units are located in areas containing high concentrations of low-income households, 72 percent are suitable for rehabilitation.
Families that earn more than 80 percent of MFI can afford either the median rent or monthly mortgage payment without spending more than 30 percent of their gross income for housing expenses. Families that earn 50 percent of MFI can afford the median rent but cannot afford the mortgage payment without spending more than half of their income for housing. Families that earn 30 percent of MFI cannot afford either the median rent or mortgage payment without spending more than 50 percent of their income for housing.
Detailed information about the city's homeless population does not exist. However, the Eighth Street Mission staff reported that the number of homeless persons seeking shelter has increased and that between 1989 and 1992, more than 5,000 persons annually sought shelter.
The West Memphis Housing Authority has 395 public housing units in its inventory. The vacancy rate varies between 11 and 13 percent. The Section 8 inventory includes 290 units. Of these, 254 are subsidized under the certificate program, and the remaining 36 are subsidized under the voucher program. Currently, 89 families appear on the waiting list for public housing, and 126 appear on the waiting list for Section 8 rental assistance.
West Memphis has a history of removing regulatory barriers to affordable housing to ensure that developers will provide affordable starter homes.
The city has enacted several measures to increase fair housing opportunities throughout the community. These measures include: neighborhood revitalization efforts that positively affect housing opportunities, efforts by the Community Housing Resources Board of West Memphis to promote fair housing, and efforts by the West Memphis Housing Authority and Section 8 Housing to provide housing for minorities living outside the southeastern section of West Memphis.
Much of the city's housing stock was built after the residential use of lead-based paint was banned in 1979, making it less susceptible to lead-based paint hazards. Only 2,274 housing units built before 1979 may contain lead paint. In 1994 four cases of lead poisoning were documented. The city will pursue the following abatement strategies:
To address affordable housing needs, West Memphis has established the following five priorities:
High-priority community development needs include: child-care centers; flood drain, street, sidewalk, and other infrastructure improvements; youth, substance abuse, and transportation services; commercial-industrial infrastructure and microbusiness development; and code enforcement.
Medium-priorities include: senior and youth centers; neighborhood facilities; sewer improvements; senior, disabled, and health services; employment training; crime awareness; commercial-industrial rehabilitation; technical assistance for economic development; and energy efficiency improvements for housing.
The city's antipoverty strategy includes:
The Community Development Agency of West Memphis, in conjunction with the West Memphis Housing Authority, is the lead agency responsible for developing and implementing the Consolidated Plan. The Community Development Agency also coordinates with other community housing and social service providers, both public and private. These agencies include: the Crittenden County Health Department, the Mayor's Victim Advocacy Program, the East Arkansas Agency on Aging, Eighth Street Mission, and the Good Neighbor Center.
The Community Development Agency will establish and maintain a database to monitor changing demographic, economic, and housing market conditions. The agency also will establish a housing task force comprising community leaders, agency staff, and citizens. This task force will investigate and monitor affordable housing issues.
Funds will be allocated as follows to support key projects proposed for the first year of the Consolidated Plan:
Some of the lead agencies responsible for providing these services and projects include: the Community Development Agency, the City Engineer, the Office of Planning and Development, the Finance Department, and the Community Housing Resources Board.
MAP 1 depicts points of interest in the jurisdiction.
MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.
MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.
MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.
MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 6 is a map, sectioned by neighborhood, which depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 7 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within one of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 8 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded project(s) from a street level vantage point; in addition, a table provides information about the project(s).