BY NEIL GRASSO
If you are a Sacred Heart University upperclassmen that currently lives off-campus, you might have to find a new home for next year.
If approved by the Bridgeport City Council, a newly proposed city ordinance would limit the number of unrelated (non-familial) individuals that can live together in the same residence.
Currently, up to four unrelated persons can live together in a single home. If approved, this new ordinance will lower that number to three unrelated individuals.
The proposal came about after a series of complaints from residents in the North End region of the city. Loud, late-night parties, excessive instances of illegal parking, and disrespectful behavior have been the primary causes for concern.
According to Sacred Heart’s official website, hundreds of Sacred Heart University students choose to live in off-campus homes each school year.
Many students at Sacred Heart choose to reside in the North End of Bridgeport for its close proximity to campus. With public safety vehicles patrolling the area late at night, it is also considered by many students to be one of the safest regions of the city.
Junior marketing major Paige Figueiredo expressed her lack of confidence in the ordinance’s ability to effectively resolve the issue at hand.
“I honestly think that the ordinance will backfire if it is approved,” said Figueiredo, who is currently living in an off-campus residence.
“If students can only live in homes in groups of 3, then the number of total houses rented by SHU students will go up. The school is growing rapidly in both size and number of students, and off-campus landlords are constantly looking for students to rent their homes so that they can have steady flows of revenue. I just think that there is a strong chance that more student homes will be popping up around the North end with less people living in them.”
Long-term residents of Bridgeport that have had positive experiences with SHU students over the years emphasized the importance of clear communication.
“When my wife and I first moved here, we made a real effort to establish connections with all of our neighbors, and that included all of the SHU students,” said Rick Baxton, a Bridgeport resident who first moved to the city 9 years ago.
“The SHU students have actually been the best neighbors we have had. I don’t really see how this ordinance will help with the complaints that have been made. Reducing the number of renters in a home from four to three won’t eliminate college parties or make a big difference with the parking issue. It’s not like all of the cars on the streets are from the fourth renter anyways, they are mostly cars of friends who are visiting.”
Baxton’s wife, Aylssa, believes that the best way for residents to engage with students regarding these matters is to hold an open dialogue with them.
“There’s a very small chance that this ordinance will resolve the issues brought up by some of the residents,” said Baxton.
“As long as there are college students, there are going to be parties and cars parking on the streets. In my experience, if you establish a good line of communication with students, chances are they will respect you and your home. I’ve had college students turn down the music when it was played loudly late at night. That’s important for us as parents of two young children.”
Alyssa Baxton also acknowledged the reality of certain students acting blatantly disrespectful, even after local residents have attempted to establish lines of communication.
“I totally understand that that level of disrespect could be occurring, and it’s flat out wrong for students or anyone to do that. I understand why residents would be upset with that kind of behavior, and it shouldn’t be tolerated,” said Baxton.
“With that being said, I still feel that while calling the police might make the late night party or illegal parking go away momentarily, a clear line of communication where rules are respected and understood by both parties is the best way to go if possible. It minimizes tension and creates a welcoming community.”