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Excellerate Foundation Launches HOMES Program, Revolutionizing Home Ownership for Bentonville Educators | 3W Magazine
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As part of a groundbreaking event for McAuley Place, a new rental development aimed at providing workforce housing, Excellerate Foundation unveiled an innovative new program: Home Ownership Mutual Equity Solutions, or HOMES. This program is set to transform the landscape of home ownership for educators and the broader workforce in Bentonville, establishing a model that could be replicated across the nation.

The HOMES program is a collaborative effort involving local government agencies, educational institutions, and community stakeholders. Excellerate Foundation has specifically designed this program to build a path to affordable home ownership for families whose dream of having their own home seems more impossible each day.

This program is a key component of the McAuley Place development—located on the corner of 41st St. & SW I St in Bentonville—which promises to address critical housing needs in Bentonville by providing affordable rental opportunities comprising 120 multifamily apartments and 40 single-family cottages. Recognizing the pivotal role of Bentonville educators and colleagues in shaping the future generation, the inaugural version of HOMES will focus on their housing needs by offering tailored support and resources with a teacher-focused approach.

In Northwest Arkansas, the cost of housing is rapidly increasing. The median home price of existing single-family homes grew by 55.3% between 2019 and 2023, according to the Northwest Arkansas Council 2023 State of the Region report.

Through a first-of-its-kind mutual equity solution, HOMES emulates the benefits of home ownership that were previously out of reach—such as participation in home equity appreciation—while avoiding burdens such as a down payment, PMI, taxes, appraisal, closing costs, building insurance, and maintenance.

After a maximum of five years, Bentonville Schools employees can leave the program with up to $50,000 to put towards the purchase of a permanent home. The HOMES approach is unmatched across the nation, fostering stability and long-term financial security for participants.

“It’s a special thing when residents of a community see a need and come together to provide the solution,” said Bentonville Superintendent Dr. Debbie Jones. “This is an opportunity to change the landscape in Bentonville, where so many new teachers and other young professionals are priced out of the housing market.”

In addition to the HOMES program and the 160 units of affordable housing, McAuley Place will offer many other resources and opportunities to help the teachers, staff, and other families within the Bentonville School District.

An onsite, multi-use building will house a mix of infant/toddler, Pre-K, and adult education classes for McAuley Place residents. Up to 60 children can take advantage of the daytime programming, provided by Bentonville Schools, ensuring that their socioemotional development stays on track while allowing their parents to work. Night and weekend classes for young adult and older residents will cover topics such as tutoring, financial management, and home ownership preparation.

McAuley Place will offer a classroom of a different kind to the high school students in the Bentonville Schools IGNITE Construction Management program, who will assist with the design and construction of the single-family cottages and gain hands-on experience in a real world setting.

“Our teachers are the frontline of encouragement, nurturing, and inspiration,” said IGNITE’s Chris Weeks. “It is a great thing to give them a place of peaceful living to recharge as they take on this highest of opportunities.”

McAuley Place is also centrally located to the district’s schools and has walkable access to multiple amenities, such as the Bentonville Community Center, the Razorback Greenway, a health clinic, groceries, and restaurants. And personalized needs assessments and resource plans will be available onsite to all residents so that any other obstacles to their families’ wellbeing can be addressed.

“McAuley Place is an excellent example of what our community can do when it comes together,” said Jeff Webster, President / CEO of Excellerate Foundation. “There is an affordable housing crisis in Northwest Arkansas, not just for teachers, but also retail workers, medical staff, public servants, food service, and more. These people are the backbone of our community and are key to making our region one of the greatest places to live in the nation. Nurses, firefighters, baristas, and, yes, teachers all take care of us and the ones we love. Now it is our turn to do the same for them. McAuley Place and the HOMES program are just the first step.”

As a final innovation, Excellerate Foundation has created the Teacher Homes Fund, through which those in Northwest Arkansas may make micro donations to support McAuley Place. The fund is meant to help create a unified community voice around the housing issue. Gifts of any amount will provide tangible proof to local stakeholders and elected officials that housing, teachers, education, and children are of the utmost importance to Bentonville residents.

Donors will receive special updates on the progress of the project, and they will also be invited to the grand opening celebration of McAuley Place. Additionally, every donation of up to $100 to the Teacher Homes Fund will receive a 1:1 match from Excellerate Foundation.

To learn more or donate, please visit the Bentonville Teacher Homes website at https://bentonvilleteacherhomes.com/.

Eric Pianalto (center) with Sister Anita DeSalvo and Sister Lisa Atkins from the Sisters of Mercy