City to hold affordable housing summit

Published 9:05 am Friday, April 19, 2019

Affordable housing is a hot topic in Oxford, and next month residents will have the opportunity to meet with members of the Executive Committee of the Oxford Housing Commission during an affordable housing summit.

The ‘Kick Off Summit’ will take place on May 9 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Oxford Conference Center. There will be a guest speaker, and following the presentation, attendees can sign up to serve on topical study committees, with a limit of two committees per person. The city’s goal is to have residents involved and contributing to the solutions for overcoming Oxford’s housing crisis.

“Affordable housing has been a conversation in this community for as long as anyone can remember,” Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill said. “We are victims of our success in many ways, and that shows up glaringly in real estate prices. It is a very high priority for this Board to find ways to accommodate the people that make this community go-round.”

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Five topical study committees were created during the executive committee’s first meeting on March 6. The committee is the body governing the Housing Commission and will make any recommendations for action to the City of Oxford and Lafayette County. The committee is comprised of 15 members that represent government, institutions, activists and civic organizations. Mayor Tannehill is one of those committee members.

Interested residents will have the opportunity to sign up for the following committees: Housing Needs – Below 80 percent of area median income; Housing Needs – Little to No Income/Homelessness; Housing Needs – From 80 to 100 percent of Area Median Income; Data, Definitions and Terminology – Deeper Evaluations of Background Concerns, including Economics; Mixed Issues – Including: Maintenance or Repair Assistance for Substandard Housing, Expanded Transit Options; Opportunity Zones and Housing Opportunities, Student Housing, Substandard Rental Housing and Housing Finance Options.

The Executive Committee seeks approximately five to 10 people for each committee. Committee members must be able to attend one meeting a month for six months. Discussions regarding additional information on the scope of the work required of each committee will occur during the summit.

“This meeting is (residents’) opportunity to get involved,” Tannehill said. “People have said, ‘I want to be a part of this process. I want to know how I can plug in. I have ideas, I want to be part of the conversation.’ This is the opportunity to do so. We welcome as many voices at the table that can come and help us figure out ways that we can solve this problem.”

Before signing up for a committee, Jeff Staudinger of Ashville, N.C. will give a presentation. A leading expert in the areas of local affordable housing finance policy and strategy, Staudinger has been a community development practitioner since he began working as a VISTA Volunteer in the mid-1970s.