Housing Commission

Housing Commission Regular Meetings: A regular meeting time has not yet been determined. The first meeting of the Executive Committee of the Commission was held on Wednesday, March 6 at 1pm at Burns Belfry. The second meeting was held on Thursday, March 28 at Burns Belfry. The next meeting will be in the context of the Affordable Housing Summit to be held on Thursday, May 9 at the Oxford Conference Center from 5pm to 8pm.

Statement of Intent and Mission

The City of Oxford and Lafayette County are committed to providing a wide range of housing options for all its citizens and residents. To that end we are working together with the University of Mississippi and area advocacy organizations and employers to evaluate the impediments to a better balance of housing options (rental and for sale) in the City and the County. There are a wide range of housing options affordable for those with higher incomes, more modest options affordable for those with moderate incomes (especially in Oxford); and substantial shortages of options affordable for those with limited or very limited incomes. Paths to expanding the options for those at lower income levels are needed. The intent of this Committee and it Working Committees will be to evaluate the drivers of housing costs and affordability, and to propose the means to provide more affordable and diverse housing solutions. is to recommend options that may be enacted by the City of Oxford, Lafayette County, the University of Mississippi, housing developers, and non-profit organizations to further the expansion of housing options affordable to those at the moderate and low spectrum of income levels.

The Housing Commission work will be divided between a governing Executive Committee and Subject specific working committees.

Statement of Values

  1. We are committed to providing housing options for all who work in Oxford and Lafayette County.
  2. We are committed to searching for solutions for all who need housing in Oxford and Lafayette County.
  3. We are committed to seeking an equitable balance between those who are permanent, long term residents of Oxford and Lafayette County and those who are temporary or occasional residents.
  4. We are committed to searching for solutions to the problem of visible and invisible homelessness in Oxford and Lafayette County.
  5. We are committed to seeing all area stakeholders be involved in these solutions: Oxford, Lafayette County, the University of Mississippi, Baptist Hospital, and other major employers.


Housing Background
Updated from the Vision 2037 Comprehensive Plan (2016)


Summary

  • The Oxford housing market is heavily influenced by growth (or decline) at the University.
  • Housing market prices were increasing when the Comprehensive Plan was being completed.
  • The housing market has been slowing since that time – related to University issues and overbuilding.
  • An excess of student oriented rental housing was forecast before that decline.
  • Housing prices (sale or rent) close to downtown and the University are less affected by downturns.
  • Since the 2015 study for the Vision 2037 Plan:
    • Households earning below the area median income have gone up significantly.
    • The number of households earning $35K to $100K annually has gone up somewhat.
    • The number of households making above $100,000 annually has gone down.
  • There was, and still is high demand for affordable housing for market segments other than students; and there has been very limited market response to that demand.
  • Quality of available affordable housing may also be discussed as a health issue.

Affordability
  • Housing in Oxford (comparing housing costs to area income) is substantially less affordable than most of Mississippi.
  • Demand from second home owners, visitor housing, retirees, and other niches skew the market upward in terms of what is built and prices.
  • While there are more balanced options in Lafayette County and beyond in adjacent counties, housing further from jobs is more inconvenient and expensive (due to added transportation costs).
  • The Vision 2037 Plan stated that Oxford must better address the needs of modest wage workers.
  • Because land costs are high and there is still market demand for more expensive housing; programs are needed to establish incentives for building affordable housing.
  • Mixed-use and mixed-income development approaches can help cross-subsidize costs.
  • A strong collaborative partnership between the City, the County, the University, and other major employers is needed.
  • The partnership must be focused on building a sound housing balance in appropriate locations (with viable transit access to the University and retail options) as a means of addresses these concerns.
  • The 2014 study indicated that most of the current housing demand in the Oxford Market Area (OMA) is being generated by households with incomes below $35,000 per year, and that demand is not being provided by market forces.
  • The demand for affordable housing is split between students and residents, most of who are working but do not have wages high enough to allow them to find market built housing in or near Oxford.
  • Since student needs can be met by a choice of living in the “purpose built student housing” projects that are overbuilt, the more pressing need is housing for those residents who are not students.

Tax Credit Housing - In 2017 and 2018 Belle River and Eastover, two affordable development projects were approved, using tax credits. They will provide 96 duplex units, but unfortunately, there is little potential for additional funding for the type of financing that made these projects possible.

Subsidized Housing - There is a limited amount of subsidized housing in the Oxford Market Area, split between rental units and those using vouchers. There are 212 rental units (in four developments); and there are 310 local vouchers and 239 portability vouchers (549 total) being used in the area. There is limited funding available to secure more vouchers for this market area.

Homelessness - In Oxford and Lafayette County there is little overtly visible homelessness as is seen in larger cities. There are, however, those who have no home. Homeless persons in our area are more likely to live with relatives or friends with little stability. This includes families with children.

Senior Housing - There is also a need for affordable housing in Oxford that meets the needs of a growing and diverse aging population of seniors. Those who move here as active retirees are likely to remain and will eventually need varied housing options related to their health, mobility, and financial realities. It was anticipated that soon at least 36% of rental demand and 48% of growth in ownership demand will be generated by seniors.

Student Housing
  • The 2014 study indicated that planned developments would satisfy demand in a high-growth scenario, but would result in an over-supply under the moderate growth scenario.
  • Since that time, enrollment has been decreasing, although not at a substantial rate.
  • The study further notes that while the University is not able to project demand, high school populations have flattened or declined across much of the United States (including Mississippi).
  • The growth in “purpose built student housing” in excess of market needs has led to negative impacts in terms of housing affordability as it blunted development of housing rentable to other underserved, and lower income, markets.


Executive Committee
Dr. Janice Antonow (Oxford Alderman)
3336 Whippoorwill Lane
Oxford, MS 38655
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JR Rigby (Oxford Planning Commission)
305 Garner Street
Oxford, MS 38655
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Kevin Frye (Lafayette County Supervisor)
300 North Lamar Boulevard
Oxford, MS 38655
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Joel Hollowell (Lafayette County Planning)
300 North Lamar Boulevard
Oxford, MS 38655
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Lionel Maten (University of Mississippi)
P.O. Box 1848
233 Lyceum
University, MS 38677
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Teasha Sanders (Oxford Housing Authority)
900 Molly Barr Road
Oxford, MS 38655
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Lance Hickman (Habitat for Humanity)
517 South Lamar Boulevard
Oxford, MS 38655
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Kathy Sukanek (LOU Homes)
123 Cedar Hill Drive
Oxford, MS 38655
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Ruth Ball (NAACP)
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Alonzo Hilliard (Sigma LOU Group)
P.O. Box 2097
Oxford, MS 38655
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Rev. Alfred Hall (Philadelphia MBC)
P.O. Box 1212
36 CR 2006
Oxford, MS 38655
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J.W. McCurdy (Developer)
93 Highway 328
Oxford, MS 38655
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Stewart Rutledge (Developer)
1739 University Avenue, Suite 116
Oxford, MS 38655
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Staff
Judy Daniel
City Hall – 107 Courthouse Square
Oxford, MS 38655
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