Oxford’s affordable housing developments seeing immediate success

Published 2:32 pm Friday, February 21, 2020

The two newest affordable housing communities in Oxford are filling up quickly, with one development already at maximum capacity.

During an affordable housing update from developer Stewart Rutledge at Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting, it was announced the Belle Rivers development has 100-percent occupancy and a second development, Eastover, is quickly leasing out homes as well. Belle Rivers occupied all 48 homes in about seven weeks, which is compared to a three to four month national average it takes other developments, according to Rutledge.

Bell Rivers is located off Slack Road, and Eastover is located south of Oxford High School on F.D. “Buddy” East Parkway North.

Email newsletter signup

“They leased up faster, as far as we could tell, any affordable housing development in the nation. Not in the state, not in the region,” Rutledge said. “So, what that does is both a success and a corroboration of the need. People are not just wanting, they’re down right desperate (for affordable housing). I would encourage y’all to drive through those neighborhoods and knock on some doors. Those are some happy, happy people.”

Rutledge referenced a story about a father who had a special needs child in the Oxford School District and although the child was “being treated incredibly well” by OSD they were going to have to leave but are now living in one of the developments, keeping the child in Oxford schools.

Roughly $22.5 million has been invested into the affordable housing projects, and there is another $10 million on the way which has, and will, go toward 144 homes for Oxford’s workforce community who could otherwise not afford to live in Oxford.

There is another phase of Belle Rivers, or Bell Rivers Phase II, in development and is expected to offer an additional 46 homes next to the current Bell Rivers development if the project is approved by the city’s planning commission.

“Those dollars, those are private dollars,” Rutledge said. “Those are from investors from Indianapolis, Boston that have come to back Oxford. That’s really important, when you can bring in those type of dollars for affordable housing.”

The two developments were made possible with a partnership between Rutledge and LOU-Home, a private housing advocacy nonprofit. The development came to fruition due to federal tax credits being offered along with traditional bank lending.

The leases are renewed annually, and rent is expected to be approximately $725 a month.

In 2034, tenants living in the developments will have the option to purchase the home. Their rent payments will be deducted from the sale price. For example, if a tenant has lived in the unit for 15 years, they will have paid $126,000 in rent. That amount will be applied to the purchase price that will be determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.