Oxford city leaders are discussing ways to deal with affordable housing issues. In the first story of a series, we asked college students and Oxford residents if they believe it is affordable to live in Oxford.
During a recent board of aldermen meeting, a proposed affordable housing development was discussed. In order to build the development, woods in the Oxford Creek area off of Molly Barr Road would have to be cleared, and some have voiced opposition.
University of Mississippi graduate student Matthew Weaver has been living in Oxford long enough to pay attention to rent prices.
“Rent has always been pricey in Oxford since I first started school here,” he said. “Since the construction would involve wiping down a nice wooded area, I am against it. I think the housing options that are already available should lower prices instead of wiping down the woods to build more.”
Housing in Oxford has been an ongoing issue for years now – not just for college students trying to pay tuition, but for residents and workers too. Many people who are employed in Oxford have to commute daily from other towns.
Most of the student living communities in Oxford, such as Highland Square, The Retreat at Oxford, and the Hub, have rent prices that range from $500 to $800 per person.
Greg Peeler, a UM student and resident of Highland Square, said affordable housing should be created for low-income families.
“If this affordable housing becomes a thing, students would want to be living there as well, so there really is no point, considering it would just be in one small location,” he said. “I feel like there would be problems between students and families fighting over wanting to live in an affordable housing environment.”
Another UM student, Brianna Sellers, believes Oxford should work to create more affordable housing for college students.
“On top of the out-of-state tuition that my parents have to pay, I strongly believe Oxford should invest in building an area for affordable housing,” said Sellers. “I feel bad for making my parents have to pay for my $700 rent and tuition and still give me an allowance. I am completely for the development of affordable housing for students and low-income families, both.”
Ben Cherrybone, an Oxford resident, strongly opposes the development of affordable housing.
“When I hear the term ‘affordable housing,’ I think of government funding and the taxes I have to pay,” said Cherrybone. “It bothers me to have the money that I work for, and have worked for in the past, taken away and given to people who are too lazy to get their own jobs.”
“Affordable housing” is a term that includes a variety of government-subsidized programs for low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities, aimed at helping them find places they can afford to live, according to realtor.com. This includes Section 8 housing, government public housing, and affordable housing built by private developers who have the incentive of government tax credits.
UM student Chris Hendricks said Oxford is an expensive place to live.
“I’m just here to go to school, so the development of building more houses in Oxford does not phase me,” Hendricks said. “However, I do agree with housing in Oxford being high in price, since I have to pay $600 a month. I think the cost of living in Oxford should be lowered due to the fact that it is a college town and most college students are broke.”