Comunity Visions: Students’ fates lie in Yorktown decision

A court has stayed the evictions scheduled for Dec. 19 in Yorktown to hear both the community’s and the landlords’ cases. How the judge decides could have lasting effects on housing and relations between the community and Temple.

As of Dec. 19, any Temple students living in Yorktown were supposed to be evicted. This is no longer the case. A Philadelphia court has stayed the evictions in order to hear the merits of both sides of the case.

The case will be heard by the Zoning Board of Adjustment on Jan. 28 at 1 p.m. Some landlords have filed appeals to the evictions and are hoping to have the court allow them to continue renting out their houses in Yorktown.

“[The landlords] are asking them to roll back to the law they have already been breaking,” said Pam Pendleton-Smith, a community activist in Yorktown.

The law she referred to was the city-wide zoning ordinance, which prohibits no more than three unrelated people living in one residence. Some landlords had violated this law even before the special district laws, which made it impossible for students to live in Yorktown, existed.

Not all landlords are fighting the special district laws, Smith said.

“[There were] two cases in which the property owner moved into the property,” Smith said.

Other landlords have decided to appeal the decision. Some have said they need to rent a house to more than three people in order to make a profit.

“It has been said by certain individuals that they could not make money with only three tenants,” Smith said.

The meeting, which is being held in Center City at 1515 Arch St., will decide the fates of the students living in Yorktown, as well as the landlords who own the properties.

“I can’t say [the evictions] will be immediately because the students are kind of the innocent victims, so they will probably stay the evictions until May, which I would be in agreement with,” if the judge decides the evictions will continue, Smith said.

If the evictions are overturned, the special district laws could hang in the balance. A judge won’t be able to allow the student renters to continue living in Yorktown, but also uphold the special district laws which make it illegal for them to live there in the first place.

The ruling could have a lasting impact on Temple and its housing situation. If the evictions are upheld, then Temple would lose several sections of the surrounding community as a source of housing, not just Yorktown but Jefferson Manor and People’s Village as well.

On the other hand, if students are allowed to continue living in Yorktown and other areas under the special district laws, it could cause friction between the community and Temple. The fairly decent behavior of student living in those communities could deteriorate as public interest dies down, exacerbating the situation even further.

Temple may not have a hand in the decision being made on Jan. 28, but the result could affect it dramatically.

Stephen Zook can be reached at

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