College students, attorneys condemn proposed off-campus housing ordinance

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Providence Councilwoman Helen Anthony has proposed an ordinance that would limit off campus housing for students in the city to just three people per dwelling.

At an Ordinance Committee meeting Wednesday, dozens of students flocked to City Hall to oppose the ordinance.

Anthony unveiled her motivation behind the ordinance to ABC 6 News, saying, “Drunkenness, parties, trash, rats, mattresses in the backyard. I mean these are issues that impact everyone’s quality when you have these kinds of things happening in the middle of the neighborhood.”

Anthony believes the off-campus housing has burdened the city recently.

“They’re residential dwellings that have been turned into student dorms,” she explained. “They’re overcrowded, overpacked, and possibly unsafe.”

While some showed support for the ordinance, the majority spoke against it.

Providence City Council President John Igliozzi believes the proposed ordinance “targets financially strapped college students across the city and tries to solve a minor problem with an overreaching response.”

“It’s like settling a verbal argument with a nuclear bomb,” he added.

One Brown University student said, “It builds the friendship. It makes memories. These friendships last a lifetime and if you only have three people, four people, in a house, there is not much that goes on. There’s a lot of space. People will be secluded from each other.”

Another Brown student said this will only create more problems, explaining, “It’s not changing the size of the house, just that there are fewer people living there. It doesn’t mean fewer parties. If anything, there is space to throw even larger parties.”

Municipal law attorney Dylan Conley anticipates housing prices to skyrocket if the ordinance is passed.

“Restricting the number of college students that can live together doesn’t get rid of college students,” said Conley. “They are still in town. They are still renting. So, it’s just going to take up more and more and more apartments.”

Conley also fears for those who already struggle with rent.

He explained, “Anyone that’s really on the margin, that are really just making rent right now, and live anywhere near a college, they’re going to be pushed out.”

After listening to hours of testimony against the ordinance, Anthony responded to the criticism.

“There is certainly something to be looked at in terms of the sprawl issue. But honestly, I don’t think it’s anything unreasonable that we’re asking for,” she concluded.

Categories: News, Providence, Rhode Island