The Northwest Arkansas Council hired Duke McLarty as executive director for the nonprofit organization’s workforce housing center.
McLarty is currently the director of government affairs and community relations for AIR Communities, a real estate investment trust in Denver, and he will start at the center on Dec. 6. McLarty, although a native of Missouri, is a member of Arkansas' McLarty family, whose members include Thomas F. "Mack" McLarty III, the former White House chief of staff for President Bill Clinton.
Duke McLarty, 43, oversaw legislative and community engagement initiatives for AIR, which has apartment complexes in 17 states. He has also worked for the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“Northwest Arkansas is in a favorable position to address the community’s housing needs now before it becomes a more serious issue,” Duke McLarty said. “I am excited to collaborate with partners and stakeholders to ensure the region’s key workforce — teachers, first responders and so many others — can live in and contribute to the vibrancy of the communities where they work.”
The council launched the housing center in March 2021 in collaboration with the Walton Family Foundation. The Walton Family Foundation had issued a report, “Our Housing Future,” in 2019 that showed minimum wage workers in the region would have a difficult time finding affordable housing.
“Duke’s unique experience with government advocacy, community engagement and consensus building for housing developments on federal, state and local levels will be valuable as the center develops innovative solutions for the region’s housing needs,” Council CEO Nelson Peacock said. “As northwest Arkansas continues to grow, we want to ensure working families have access to high-quality, attainable housing connected to transportation options, opportunities and experiences.”