Ordinance seeks to remove student housing, tensions

If passed, a bill would prohibit students from  living in areas near Main Campus. To some, students living in the neighborhoods near Main Campus translates to increased safety and an attraction for businesses. To others,

KATE McCANN TTN Off-campus student housing near Main Campus has fueled development projects in North Philadelphia. A recent City Council bill seeks to ban students from living in certain areas because of complaints by long-time residents.

If passed, a bill would prohibit students from  living in areas near Main Campus.

To some, students living in the neighborhoods near Main Campus translates to increased safety and an attraction for businesses. To others, they represent late-night boozing and uncontrollable litter. In a response to the latter, a bill seeking to prohibit off-campus student housing in certain areas was introduced into City Council Thursday, Sept. 22.


The bill, introduced by District Councilman Darrell Clarke, seeks to absolve the community of long talked-about tensions with students by prohibiting student housing in an area juxtaposed to surround Main Campus.

If passed, the bill would prohibit new multiple-family dwellings, apartment houses, tenement houses, student housing not owner-occupied and fraternity and sorority houses in the area surrounding campus.

Between 6,000 and 7,000 students are estimated to live near Main Campus. In recent years, the influx of students moving into the neighborhood has dramatically changed the makeup of the area.

Clarke, a democrat representing the fifth councilmanic district, reportedly cited students’ disrespectful behavior building tension between students and long-time residents in the community surrounding Main Campus as a reason for introducing the bill.

The borders would be as follows: North 19th Street on the west, Lehigh Avenue on the north, Ninth Street on the east, southward along Ninth Street to Cecil B. Moore Avenue, westward along Cecil B. Moore Avenue to 13th Street, southward along 13th Street to Girard Avenue and Girard Avenue, from 13th Street to 19th Street on the south.

This isn’t the first time such legislation has made its way to City Council.

An ordinance was approved for the Yorktown area in 2005, banning most student housing in the neighborhood south of Main Campus. Some landlords who were grandfathered in prior to the ordinance’s inception are still permitted to rent to students.

The new bill seeks to amend this section of the Philadelphia Code, to add the new boundaries to the ordinance.

In 2004, Clarke also introduced a piece of legislation seeking to curb the behavior of some students in the neighborhood. The bill sought to create an “educational housing district” around Main Campus and would have required students to tell landlords that they were university students and inform Temple of their off-campus addresses and vehicle numbers.

After a hearing on May 20, 2004, the bill lapsed.


Teresa Taylor, a long-time resident that lives on 18th Street between Montgomery Avenue and Berks Street, said students’ trash in front of homes on her street is an issue she believes is improving, but is still prevalent.

“There’s just a lot of screaming. I guess that’s just a part of life,” Taylor said. “I think they should try to build a rapport with neighbors.”

Lauren Russ, a junior education major, said she thinks children growing up in the area may be prematurely exposed to college students’ partying, which could be a legitimate grievance for community members.

“I think they have a right to be frustrated,” Russ said.

Still, some said they thought students’ dwelling in the neighborhoods bolstered the community in through new developments’ aesthetics and safety.

“I think it’s a good thing because I feel like students being here makes the community safer for people that have families,” said Eric Savering, a junior biology major.

“Tell them to try to stop the violence. People [are] getting killed every day. That’s what they should be worried about,” Rafiq Millel, a 21-year-old life-long resident of North Philadelphia, said. “We all gotta live in this world together.”

Courtesy Google Maps/Illustration LUCAS BALLASY If passed, a bill would limit student housing in the area shaded above. The ordinance seeks to solve tensions between students and community members. Councilman Darrell Clarke brought the bill to City Council on Thursday, Sept. 22.

Peter Crawford of the Temple Area Property Association, a coalition of local landlords that represents approximately 300 buildings in the Main Campus area, said the area has seen revitalization as a result of students moving into the neighborhood.

“This area was a ghost town 15, 20 years ago, before students started living around campus,” Crawford said.

“We’re startled by the bill. It would unwind 15 years of economic growth in Central Philadelphia,” Jon Weiss, president of Equinox Management Construction LLC and TempleTown Realty.

Crawford said his organization was working with Clarke on a “neighborhood improvement district.”

The district would deal with issues such as lighting, cleanliness and safety, Weiss said.

Crawford added that Clarke supported the idea for the district and did not inform TAPA of the bill until the day before he introduced it.

The student body and those who oppose the bill need to voice their opinions immediately, Crawford said.

“I think it’s really interesting that he’s addressing student housing cause we’re causing problems but we’re doing nothing about the vacant lots, crime is still of significant highs, there’s still violence in the community,” Temple Student Government Student Body President Colin Saltry said. “Is this intended to actually do anything, or is it just pandering?”


The university does not have a position on the bill because it deals with land not owned by Temple, said Ray Betzner, assistant vice president of university communications.

“Temple expects its students to be good residents of Philadelphia,” Betzner said, adding that for the most part, they are.

Betzner said university representatives meet with Clarke periodically, but was unsure if the councilman had given Temple any indication that he would be introducing the legislation.

However, Crawford said that, if passed, the bill would likely make the university less attractive to prospective students by setting the neighborhood back 15 years.

“If we had to commute here from say a nearby area, we probably wouldn’t come to class as much,” said Danielle Cafaro, a junior math major.

Although the university does not have a direct relation to the off-campus housing business, community members have made it clear to the university that they’d prefer students to live on campus.

Betzner said these concerns helped establish the new South Gateway project, a residence hall under construction at Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue that is estimated to be complete in 2013, as a part of the university’s 20/20 plan.

The new residence hall is expected to add more than 1,000 bed spaces for students.


But as students continue to occupy houses in the area, and complaints by long-time residents continue to be voiced to the university, administrators are confronted with the task of attempting to ensure its students are conducting themselves in acceptable behavior off campus.

“I think we can all admit that there are some rowdy students on Saturday nights…but I don’t think that it’s the masses of Temple students,” Griffin said. “Those just happen to be the students who get attention.”

Last March, Temple, under Dean of Students Stephanie Ives, unveiled its Good Neighbor Policy, which reiterates standard common-courtesy rules and laws, such as disposing garbage appropriately, abiding by codes, respecting the city’s noise ordinance and following alcohol and drug laws.

Violation of the policy could result in could result in university sanctions, ranging from community service to suspension or expulsion from the university.

However, some questioned its effectiveness on students and its viability.

“Our biggest complaint is that this whole Good Neighbor Policy thing, it’s just words on a page, really,” Saltry said. “It needs to be more of a focused effort.”

Likewise, Griffin said not many students know about the Good Neighbor Policy.

“The policy reminds students about state laws and city laws,” Ives told The Temple News. “Time will tell. This is a very long process. It’s only been out there for a short amount of time.”

“A simple Good Neighbor Policy is not going to be your simple magic solution. It’s going to help and the more we keep it alive and new and fresh in students’ minds, it’ll help,” Ives added.

Griffin said it’s time to brainstorm new ways to fix the tensions between students and community members.

Saltry and Griffin both said the university needs to better understand where exactly students are living off campus.

“We need to do a better job of being good neighbors with the community. I think the university needs to reevaluate what its priorities are in addressing that,” Saltry said. “It’s almost as if they want us to engage people and then all of a sudden we’re going to be holding hands and singing Kumbaya, which is not realistic.”

Angelo Fichera can be reached at afichera@temple.edu.


  1. This is bullshit. Where do they expect students to live? They barely have enough housing just for freshmen every year, and the school is not commuter friendly at all. If the residential community doesn’t like living near rowdy college kids or whatever, tough shit. I don’t care if you were here first, this is a college area now, get used to it or get out. If this were to pass and off campus housing would no longer be available close to campus, the school might as well shut down.

  2. Your “tough shit” attitude towards the people who have been living in this community for many years is the kind of attitude that is causing much of the community tension. It’s this very attitude the has many long term community residents agreeing that the Nicetown ordinance needs to be expanded.
    Why aren’t you and your parents directing your anger at university officials for their lack of foresite in regards to housing and parking. You don’t think they were aware of the problems that would develope by not being proactive about the outcome of just forcing you out into the community? You’ll pay enough tuition! Re-direct your anger where it should be – at the front door of Temple University administration!!

  3. This is absolute madness. It has nothing to do with trash or partying. It is simply a case of the poor lashing out against those who have a better station in life. These people are used to living in a slum where everyone is equally poor and there are drug deals and crack houses on every corner. But us “privileged folk” are coming in, cleaning the place up and making them feel inferior. Boo-hoo!

  4. Frankly, I have no where else to go if this bill were to pass. I can barely afford to live where I’m at now. My parents would never let me attend Temple University if I had to live even a block further away than from where I’m currently at. What I don’t understand is this: locals are upset for all the construction…but we are not responsible for that! They’re upset about the noise it creates and the fact that it tears up the roads and sidewalks. However, they don’t see that their property value has increased with the new buildings, it’s made the area a little bit safer with increased lighting and security cameras. They can’t recognize that not EVERY student is disrespectful towards the community. They want to push out the bad eggs by getting rid of the whole basket. Then, all the student homes will be abandoned and will be a rendezvous for questionable activity.
    By the way, I was ROBBED by a LOCAL in front of my house…a house occupied by all students ON Cecil B. Moore. It’s not only students that are disrespectful of other people.
    City Council should get their butts out here to look for themselves. Compare the trash found in vacant lots now to what it looked like 5 years ago. I walk by needles and broken glass on the way to the turf field, on a block where there are no students (from what I’ve noticed). How is that our fault?

  5. Seriously –
    > If North Philly resembled anything like “Animal House,” there would
    > a
    > whole lot of folks who would be glad, not mad. Has this Council
    > person
    > ever walked the streets of North Philly? I don’t believe for a
    > minute
    > that he has. Does he stay sheltered by the police district at 17th
    > &
    > Montgomery? Wherever he is, he is definitely hidden because if, for
    > a
    > moment, he believes that the worst problems around Temple University
    > are
    > caused by the students, well, then, let’s just say he needs to get
    > educated (Temple University right near by – he should check it out)
    > and
    > look at the crime statistics.
    > Oh, and how about those jacked up cars that you can hear from
    > blocks
    > away
    > because the music in the car is so loud, that it literally rocks
    > the
    > neighborhood.
    > If he lived and was part of North Philly by Temple University, he
    > would
    > see the drug dealing, the constant thefts of whatever is not nailed
    > down,
    > the senseless beatings and THE SHOOTINGS.
    > This person is out of their mind. The trash – heck, every time I
    > ride
    > through N. Philly, I see people throwing things out of their car on
    > N.
    > Broad Street. And how about the “trashy” neighbors who don’t know
    > what
    > a
    > trash bag is – they use the curb as such. They get fined again, and
    > again, and again, but nothing at all happens and the trash remains.
    > And has he seen all of the abandoned property?
    > I can’t believe this person is a councilman. How the heck did that
    > happen? Is it really that easy to become one?
    > He should be thanking God that Temple U exists and brings with it
    > the
    > police force that it has.

    And the fact is common ground already exists for those living there, whether they are a student or not. The differentiation comes into play only because of the high risk area students live in and Temple’s efforts to keep them alive but the benefit gotten from all of North Philly is that the police are doing what they can to keep everybody safe. Let’s attack the real issues in North Philly and stop the nonsense of all the trouble that the students cause. One does not equal the other. My bet is the crime outweighs “quality of life” issues caused by students by 95%.

  6. Restricting a landowner from renting his property to students? How about renting to crackheads? Is that okay? What country are we living in here? Philly has lost it’s mind.

  7. The problem of student housing has been a long one. One walk though the neighborhoods surrounding the campus would be all it took to see that students are a small fraction of the problem. The surrounding community has a problem with everything the university does. If you don’t want to live near students: don’t live next to one of the largest urban universities in the country. Students living near and around you are a no brainer. What university doesn’t have students who live in the neighborhoods surrounding the campus? Not only that, but the neighborhoods around campus have a great need for revitalization. You can’t tell me that students are ruining the neighborhood. The neighborhoods are pretty terrible with or without students living in the area. What are the student’s doing to the community that they haven’t already done to themselves? Take a ride through any neighborhood a little further from the university. Are they any better off? Are they any safer? Are they any better places to raise a family? If it isn’t students, it is crime and urban decay that effects the rest of the city. Sometimes it is easy to point the finger at others than to look at your own faults.

  8. If the students are forced to live in a specific area, wouldn’t it make sense that the local scum will be forced to move outside of the temple limits? Seems fair to me if you’re forcing students to move somewhere. P.S. 1. Temple students do not throw trash around, thats the local community just blaming it on someone else. 2. It’s not only temple students that create noise at night, shootings near innocent people might be a little worse.

  9. The old, bitter, drug & alcohol abusing, ignorant and racist people living in the Yorktown community make absolutely no sense in their attempt to fight against individuals looking to drop big bucks into their drug ridden, inner city blighted, grocery cart pushing, ghetto. No DECENT family in their right mind would want to reside in North Filthy and the majority of people who live there, only stay because they can’t afford to leave.

    These Yorktown Fools prefer to leave abandoned houses scattered throughout the vicinity and treat COLLEGE STUDENTS as criminals when they allow their own kids & neighbors to rob, steal and sell drugs right out of their own backyards. Black people like myself should be embarrassed by the actions of these Yorktown Fools. I would NEVER raise my children in such a broke down, beat up community. Without Temple, Yorktown would be nothing. This sorry excuse for a community has absolutely no validity and no future and it is only a matter of time before these people rot away and their kids sell their souls, LIBERATING the landscape of lost hope…

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