Commission discusses independent housing authority for Oxford



Oxford Community Development Director Sam Perry (upper left) proposed a new type of housing authority for the city at the June 21 online meeting of the city’s Housing Advisory Commission. Screenshot from the virtual meeting.

By Stella Beerman

The City of Oxford is exploring the feasibility of a new housing authority to combat the city’s housing challenges. 

At a Housing Advisory Commission (HAC) meeting  June 21, Oxford Community Development Director Sam Perry presented the idea of an independent housing authority not under the direction of the city administration, rather it would be overseen by its own appointed board. 

“The idea was partly inspired by some of the challenges we’ve had of not having the flexibility, authority, and manpower to do some of the things we’ve really wanted to do,” Perry said at the meeting. 

In 2020, Oxford hired Bowen National Research (BNR) to perform a Housing Needs Assessment. The report, presented to City Council in February, showed nearly 1,000 people in Oxford fell into the “priority group.” This means they are experiencing either homelessness, a physical disability, and/or substance abuse. 

Currently, Oxford’s HAC has no buying or selling powers. Perry said the creation of the new entity would allow the non-profit organization to own a property, while a board of officials similar to the current HAC, would work alongside city officials to make policy decisions. 

“I don’t want to miss the opportunity to do something that’s been needed because a lot of people in Butler County don’t see our need [for this housing],” Perry said. 

BNR found 54% of Oxford’s non-student renters are considered housing cost-burdened, meaning over 30% of their income goes toward housing each month. 

Perry said the plan would be similar to the Butler Metro Housing Authority, a county-wide Authority providing affordable rental housing in Hamilton and Middletown to low-income persons. Oxford’s Housing Authority, operating on a smaller scale, would need to create a new employee position to solely focus on Oxford’s housing.  

As a city with less than 50,000 residents, Oxford is limited on federal funding that can be used towards the housing authority. The city, with funds from the American Rescue Plan, will fund the position for three years. Afterward, Perry hopes the program will be self-sustaining with funding coming from the tenants living at the properties. 

Many members of the HAC voiced support of the Housing Authority and look forward to discussing the matter further with city staff.

“I’m very supportive of something like a Housing Authority,” Shana Rosenberg, HAC member, said. “I’ve mentioned it before and I think it’s just great.” 

The implementation of this housing authority could take anywhere between several months to a few years with locations being determined at a later date. 

Perry said city staff would like to make the recommendation to city council in the near future.