Opinion: The case for affordable housing

Posted on Jan 24 2018 - 7:55am by Jonathan Lovelady

For a household to grow and sustain itself in this global economy, housing must be affordable and stable. Even in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, many are homeless and burdened by high rent costs. Even for many in the middle class, property ownership has become unattainable.

By definition, affordable housing allows a household to spend no more than 30 percent of its income on housing, after which it is considered “rent burdened.”

Here in Oxford, most people know the cost of housing is a problem or have at least heard the issue brought up in a conversation, so I am not going to bore you with statistics. The issue is that the problem is talked about but the solutions aren’t.

Wages cannot be raised, due to state minimum wage laws, and Oxford’s relatively small economy can only create a certain number of jobs that can pay for the housing here, so the only way to make life easier in Oxford is to fix the housing issue.

Student housing isn’t as hard to find, with countless properties offered all over town, but due to many of these properties’ “rent-by-the-bedroom” process, it is unaffordable for families to sustain themselves.

Oxford may be a college town, but such a town needs adequate and, most importantly, affordable housing to sustain the university and the countless businesses that rely on the university for economic vitality. Opponents of more affordable housing typically disregard these residents merely because they can, but they fail to understand that they interact with these people on a daily basis in town.

Simply put, an economy cannot grow as quickly as possible if its housing is not good enough. The money that people use to keep roofs over their heads could be saved, which could boost the local economy even more.

These effects have pushed many into the county, which exerts pressure on that market or forces families to move to and commute from other communities. More efforts are necessary to encourage developers to create housing that caters to the middle class in this town. This is important just because Oxford is growing, and not offering housing that is similar to the rates of pay in the area is ludicrous.

It takes the community to work with its elected officials, as well as non-profit organizations, to mitigate this issue as much as possible. Most metropolitan areas have this same problem over a much larger area, but we still have the quaint town environment of Oxford to solve housing affordability.

Jonathan Lovelady is a junior economics major from Los Angeles.