The Velvet Ditch or a Money Pit?

In 1848, the town of Oxford became the home of Mississippi’s flagship university. Today, the University of Mississippi, better known as “Ole Miss” serves as the epicenter of attraction to this charming southern town.

Rich in history and nostalgia many types of people from different demographic backgrounds call Oxford and the surrounding Lafayette, University areas home. Oxford is defined by many as an “all-american college town,” and has been ranked as one of the most beautiful college campuses in the nation.

Ole Miss acts as Oxfords largest employer and facilitates attractions for many people in surrounding communities and the greater Mississippi area. The University drives crowds to sporting events and academically engages students from all over the world, which boosts the local economy and creates jobs for local residents.

The combination of long-term Oxford residents and short-term students makes the housing markets perimeters more complex. The growth of the University as a whole means less on-campus housing offered for students, driving them into the areas where long-term residents and families live. This leads to the development of multi-resident living accommodations geared towards the needs of college students.

While the influx of student population has changed the scope of Oxford from a seemingly small, sleepy southern town, it has become increasingly metropolitan. Large companies have come to Oxford and built up the commercial shopping and restaurant business.

Recent growth has just added to the cost of living in the LOU area. Many long-term residents and families have been driven out of the immediate area into areas with a lower cost of living.

Among the issues dealing with the cost of living in Oxford, many wonder if the sudden growth of the town and the University is changing the overall feeling of the “Velvet Ditch.” The city of Oxford and the University are to blame for some of the problems related to the gentrification of the area.

City and University officials have recently been coming together in efforts to bridge some of the harm done by getting rid of one of five, Section 8 housing units in Oxford displacing over 100 families.

“Rebuild Riverside,” and the informational page “WeSay:Voices of LOU,” that is run by Ole Miss students are campaigns and meetings that have started the important conversation of what the future steps should be to help lower-income families in the LOU area.