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Elorza signs student housing limits into law

Law to prohibit more than three students from living in single-family homes in R-1, R-1A zones

Mayor Jorge Elorza signed an ordinance into law Sept. 18 that limits the number of students allowed to live in single-family homes in R-1 and R-1A zones to three, wrote Emily Crowell, deputy director of communications for the mayor, in an email to The Herald. R-1 and R-1A zones include single-family homes in “neighborhoods of low-density residential development,” according to Providence zoning ordinances.

The ordinance — introduced by City Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan, who represents Ward 5, which encompasses areas around Rhode Island College and Providence College — was signed only one day after the city council voted to approve the measure.

The Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union was “surprised and disheartened” that Elorza signed the ordinance so rapidly, without allowing more time for constituent feedback, said Hillary Davis, a policy associate at the RIACLU.

After the ordinance was initially introduced, many landlords protested it during two separate public hearings July 8 and July 27, according to the Providence Journal. The RIACLU also wrote a letter in opposition to the law Sept. 15.

Davis said the RIACLU is looking to hear from students who think they may be in violation of the law currently, though the organization is not sure what its next steps will be.

A statement from Elorza’s administration read, “This ordinance protects single-family residential neighborhoods and property values while protecting the investment of those who currently own property within existing tenants.”

“Our goal is to better protect the health and safety of students and residents, and improve housing standards for all Providence residents,” Ryan said in a statement.



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