Arkansas offers a diverse landscape, a rich cultural heritage, and warm-hearted inhabitants. However, not all areas within the state provide an ideal living environment. Some cities face high crime rates, a lower quality of life, and limited economic prospects. Utilizing a weighted index encompassing twenty-four social and economic metrics, 24/7 Wall St. pinpointed the least desirable place to reside in each state. In Arkansas, this unfortunate distinction falls upon Helena-West Helena.
What is Helena-West Helena?
Helena-West Helena is a municipality situated in Phillips County, located in the eastern region of Arkansas. It emerged from the merger of two pre-existing cities, Helena and West Helena, back in 2006. With a population of roughly 10,000 residents, it ranks among the smaller cities in the state. Its location along the Mississippi River underscores its historical significance as a pivotal port and trade center for cotton and various agricultural commodities.
Why is Helena-West Helena Deemed the Unfavorable Place to Reside in Arkansas?
Several factors contribute to Helena-West Helena’s unfortunate distinction as the least desirable place to live in Arkansas. Here are some primary reasons:
High Crime Rate:
Helena-West Helena grapples with one of the highest crime rates not only in the state but also in the nation. According to FBI data from 2019, the city reported 1,590 violent crimes and 3,304 property crimes per 100,000 residents. This translates to a 1 in 63 chance of experiencing a violent crime and a 1 in 30 chance of being a victim of property crime. The city also grapples with a high murder rate, with 18 homicides reported in the same year.
Low Quality of Life:
In comparison to other Arkansas cities and the national average, Helena-West Helena scores poorly in terms of quality of life. The city’s poverty rate stands at a staggering 38.4%, more than double the state’s average of 17.2% and significantly higher than the national average of 12.3%. Furthermore, the median household income is a mere $24,441, less than half of the state median ($48,952) and well below the national median ($62,843). The city also faces a high unemployment rate of 9.4%, almost double the state’s rate of 5% and the national rate of 4.9%.
Limited Economic Opportunities:
Economic prospects for Helena-West Helena’s residents are bleak. The city lags in educational attainment, with only 14.8% of adults holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to the state’s 23.4% and the nation’s 32.1%. Job growth is slow, with only a 0.2% increase in employment between 2015 and 2019, while the state saw a 4.8% growth and the nation, 6.3%. Additionally, the median home value is a mere $64,800, less than half of the state median ($136,200) and a fraction of the national median ($240,500).
Helena-West Helena is designated as the least desirable place to live in Arkansas, primarily due to concerning social and economic indicators. The city faces substantial crime rates, a low quality of life, and limited economic opportunities for its residents. Addressing these challenges is crucial for the city to attract both people and businesses, thus improving its overall condition. Until these issues are effectively addressed, Helena-West Helena will continue to bear the unfortunate title of the least favorable place to live in Arkansas.