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Approximately 26 families remain in Oxford housing development

Many residents of Riverside Place Apartments have begun moving out of the public housing complex and starting over in their new homes.

Teasha Sanders, head of occupancy for the Oxford Housing Authority told the Oxford Board of Aldermen Tuesday that 54 families have already moved from the complex. Six families have found a place to move and are finalizing paperwork with their new landlords.

“That leaves us with 26 families right now,” Sanders said.

Sanders said this time of year is hard to find open rental units in Oxford as many are already rented out through the end of the school year. She said she’s confident the remaining families will be able to move out in the next few months.

“I anticipate before summer, we’ll have the remaining housed,” she said.

HUD contract not renewed

Oxford Housing Authority, which operates Riverside through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, sent out letters in February 2016, to 86 tenants informing them the contract with the city of Oxford would not be extended. It ran out Feb. 28, 2017.

The decision not to renew the contract with HUD was mutual. HUD is moving away from being in the brick and mortar business, increasing its voucher system nationwide. Other than not having to deal with the management of apartment complexes, the vouchers allow low-income families a broader choice of residential units, living within their communities and not being corralled into one area.

Riverside residents were asked to find a place they’d like to live, whether in Oxford, Lafayette County or another state. The vouchers are awarded to each family but paid directly to the landlords, as long as they continue to meet the financial requirements of the OHA.

OHA representatives and city officials have said those families who haven’t found a place to live by the end of the contract can remain at Riverside while they continue to search and use their vouchers to pay their rent at Riverside until they move to a new location.

Riverside’s history

A local church group built Riverside Place Apartments in the late 1960s. It closed in the late 1980s and sat vacant until the city purchased it and reopened the subsidized housing complex.

The apartments have no washer and dryer hookups or central air conditioning, are outdated and run down, according to OHA officials.

Once a resident secures a place to live, they go Interfaith Compassion Ministry, which is helping the residents with security deposits for rent and utilities if needed. ICM Board President Dick Marchbanks said it would take about $60,000 to accommodate all of the 86 families. ICM is raising the funds through church and private donations.

Alderman and mayor-elect Robyn Tannehill asked Sanders if more landlords are needed to provide places to rent.

“I am looking for more landlords,” Sanders said. “Right now, we have probably more than we need but not all units are available, so we’re happy to have more landlords.”