With rents rising, Real Estate options decreasing, leaders in this Mississippi city take action to increase affordable housing options

Published 9:30 am Monday, July 8, 2024

With rents rising, the population increasing, and the number of houses available steadily decreasing, Oxford Board of Alderman members approved a new district that they hope will offer more affordable housing options for their city.

Aldermen recently approved implementing a new overlay district during their regular meeting on Tuesday. They hope this will encourage more single-family homes, which could offer more affordable housing options. The new overlay district will facilitate a dense, single-family residential neighborhood.

The first property approved to have the new Housing Supply Accelerator Overlay is on George G. Pat Patterson Parkway. The majority of the property to be included is located on the west side of the parkway, but a small portion of the property is located to the east of the road.

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Additional areas could also be added to the overlay district in the future.

The zoning of all the property in the first overlay district is currently zoned Suburban Residential. Property owners could still develop their property under Suburban Residential zoning codes. The HAO overlay would be optional.

The HAO will facilitate a dense, single-family residential neighborhood with lots ranging from 2,000-4,800 square feet. Depending on size, the number of allowed units will be 9-21 per acre. One-bedroom and efficiency units are not allowed.

Janice Antonow, a former alderman and currently serving on the Affordable Housing Commission, said she and her fellow commissioners are in support of the new overlay district and hope that developers will take advantage of the incentives the city of Oxford has implemented for developers who choose to build affordable housing. Some of those include breaks on permit fees, tree mitigation and more.

“We (the Affordable Housing Commission) work hard, every day, to try to find solutions for the problem of affordable housing,” she told the board Tuesday. “And every day the problem is getting worse. The rents are going up, there are fewer houses available. And the population is increasing, both the student population and the general population. It’s a serious situation.”

Antonow said since the lots are smaller, they should help provide smaller, more affordable homes with lower utility bills.

“We understand it’s optional,” she said. “But with smaller lots and more affordable utilities, these houses should be more affordable than what is on the market now.”

The votes to approve the overlay district, and adding it to the property off Pat Patterson Parkway, were unanimous.