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ACLU Sues Over Providence Ordinance Limiting Student Housing

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island is suing the city of Providence over a controversial housing ordinance, which limits the number of st...

The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island is suing the city of Providence over a controversial housing ordinance, which limits the number of students who can live together.

Since September, Providence has limited the number of students who can live in a single-family home to three. The ordinance applies to several neighborhoods where residents have complained about rowdy student parties, specifically in the area surrounding Providence College.

But ACLU lawyer Jeffery Levy said the ordinance discriminates against students, does not have a direct effect on partying.

“You could have five or six students living in a single family home, but they might all walk down the street to the multi-family home for the party with the red plastic cups,” said Levy. “There’s no reason to think that an ordinance like this is going to have any impact at all.”

Levy said the ordinance disproportionately discriminates against low-income students.

“So sometimes a single-family home that has four bedrooms is the least expensive option close to campus for some of these kids, and in theory, this ordinance would foreclose those options.”

Levy also contends that the city has not been enforcing the ordinance, which has drawn criticism from local landlords. The city was not immediately available for comment.

Rows of triple decker, multi-family, houses near the Providence College area, have become a mecca for area college students looking to party.
Rows of triple decker, multi-family, houses near the Providence College area, have become a mecca for area college students looking to party.