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More Affordable Housing Could Be Coming to Oxford

With Oxford continually being named one of the best places to live or visit on national lists, much of credit is often given to the people who live and work here—teachers, restaurant workers, cashiers, law enforcement and more.
With the county’s median income being $43,000, the very people who make Oxford, Oxford, are finding it difficult to remain living in the town they work hard at making special.
City of Oxford officials are looking for ways to help solve the area’s availability of affordable, workforce housing.
The Oxford Planning Department has developed a plan that would grant developers incentives to build more affordable housing.
The incentives are geared to help developments that offer housing in a price range that is affordable to those who earn 60 to 80 percent of area median income that is adjusted annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
A large percentage of Oxford’s workforce falls into this category, according to City Planner Judy Daniel, as the majority of rental and for sale housing offered is either specifically for students or for higher income groups.
“The city is committed to finding incentives that will encourage a broader range of housing options for its residents,” Daniel wrote in a presentation to the Board of Aldermen, who will review the proposed ordinance in a first reading Tuesday night.
Developments offering 100 percent of their units to be affordable may receive up to 100 percent of the incentives if the units will remain affordable for a minimum of 15 years, 75 percent if they remain affordable for 10 years – with a minimum 10-year affordability requirement.
Developments offering percentages of units affordable below 100 percent will be considered for incentives equivalent to the percentage of affordable units offered, with a minimum of 50 percent required for consideration – if the units are to remain affordable for 15 years. The percent of incentives offered will be reduced by another 5 percent if the units are to remain available for 10 years, with a minimum 10-year affordability requirement.
The method to guarantee affordability must be presented and approved for each development.
The incentives that may be offered include:

  1. Reduction or Elimination of City Fees – The waiver or reduction of city permit fees is a commonly used incentive to support affordable and workforce housing. A partial or full waiver may be offered, related to the characteristics of the proposed development.
  2. Bonding – Oxford’s bonding requirements are intended to make the developer pay money in case the developer goes out of business and the city has to sod the dirt. It is basically insurance that could be waived if the developer has a good reputation for doing prior work with the city and has been found trustworthy.
  3. Tree Mitigation – The Tree Mitigation requirement could be reduced or eliminated. Alternatively, if the Tree Escrow Fund governance can be modified to allow its use on private property for a use which is found to have an important public purpose, the tree mitigation money could be used to plant trees required to meet Tree Mitigation requirements.
  4. Stormwater and Other Utility Requirements – Mississippi developments must construct stormwater and utility infrastructure to standards set by MDEQ, but Oxford has substantially higher standards. On sites where Stormwater runoff is unlikely to be a substantial problem, the city standards could be reduced to meet just the MDEQ standards. Also, the city could choose to pay for any required Lift Station Upgrades necessary for the development.

A public hearing will be held on the proposed incentives July 3 at 5 p.m. at City Hall.
The proposed ordinance can be viewed online here.

By Alyssa Schnugg, HottyToddy.com staff reporter. She can be reached at alyssa.schnugg@hottytoddy.com.

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