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'Affordable housing is policy – it’s not charity:' Residents raise concern that Oxford lacks affordable housing

At the Sept. 3 Oxford City Council meeting, residents voiced concerns over the lack of affordable housing in the city.

Residents expressed their views in response to the first reading of an ordinance to approve the building of a new subdivision in Oxford.

If approved by Council at its next meeting, the slew of 25 new compact-style homes will have a base asking price around $250,000, said Mike Rudolph, an Oxford resident, while paraphrasing the proposed subdivison's developer.

Rudolph also said the target audience of these new homes will be young professionals and empty-nesters, not college students.

"Affordable housing is policy - it's not charity," said Oxford resident Janis Dutton.

Terri Spahr Nelson, another resident, said Council should defer all votes on building plans until affordable housing legislation is passed.

Council passed a resolution endorsing the signature of The Global Covenant of Mayors, a political commitment to working reverse climate change.

After discussing the ramifications of signing the covenant, Councilor Mike Smith said, "We have to start, and we might as well start here," resulting in applause from the audience.

A resolution extending the e-scooter pilot program for another year was also passed at Tuesday's meeting. City manager Doug Elliott said the city is working to implement regulations on e-scooters after the start of the new year.

Community Development Director Sam Perry presented data on short-term rental properties, colloquially known as Airbnbs, at the start of the Council meeting. In April, the city required all short-term rental property owners to register with the city and fill out a short survey, so the city could learn more about the types of short-term rentals available in Oxford.

The data from the survey indicated that there are currently 55 short-term rentals in Oxford, and Perry expressed he wants to have a firm short-term rental policy in place by the end of the year.

Council next meets at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17 at the Oxford Courthouse.

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