Oxford’s use of pandemic relief funds includes economic development outside university

Long-term impact of sustainable projects is the goal, officials say.

City officials have dedicated much of Oxford’s $2.4 million allocation of American Rescue Plan funds as a “catalyst” to bring more affordable housing and continued economic development to the community.

“We want to invest in sustainable projects that will have a long-term positive impact for our community,” said Assistant City Manager Jessica Greene. “We have been conducting a lot of research to develop an understanding of best practices for both affordable housing and spurring economic recovery.”

Oxford officials have so far spent about $516,000 of the funds, but Greene said Oxford City Council has committed to spending at least $1 million on both housing and economic development.

“Our City Council cares deeply about both of these issues. They plan to invest our ARPA funds to encourage the development of more affordable housing and to serve as a catalyst for more economic development in our community,” Greene said.

The bulk of the $1 million the city has committed to affordable housing has so far gone toward purchasing land to be used as the sites of future affordable developments.

For that purpose, a $150,000 purchase was made for land off of Hester Road, and the city plans to purchase two parcels of land off of Chestnut Street are set to be purchased for a combined $360,000. Notably, The city sent $25,000 to the Family Resource Center to assist with staffing for the housing placement team.

“A Housing Needs Assessment conducted in early 2020, before the pandemic, indicated that our community has a critical need for affordable housing units,” Greene said. “The pandemic only made this worse.”

The city also approved $1,108,247 to go toward economic development projects, which has largely been directed toward a planned $600,000 property acquisition to further develop Miami University’s College@Elm, an innovation and workforce development center. City documents suggest the purchase would “expand job growth potential.”

Greene said Oxford was focused on diversifying the city’s economic base in an attempt to develop well-paying jobs outside of the university.

“Our goal is to increase jobs with other employers and rely less heavily on the income tax from Miami University employees,” Greene said.

Nearly $464,000 and $411,000 remains to be spent on affordable housing projects and economic development, respectively. Greene said the city cares deeply about each issue.

Municipalities have until the end of 2024 to fully allocate ARPA funds, and until the end of 2026 to fully spend them.

Editor’s Note: This story is part of a newspaper series tracking how dozens of our area’s largest governments are spending hundreds of millions of dollars combined from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Visit our “Billions in COVID aid: Where it’s going” special section on our partner newspaper’s website at daytondailynews.com/investigations/billions-in-covid-aid to see summaries from other communities.

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