Students want housing rule change in Middletown

Harrisburg

Some students want Middletown to change a housing rule that says no more than two unrelated people can live together.

Penn State Harrisburg students are planning a meeting with each other and Middletown landlords on March 14. They’re trying to gain momentum so they can get the borough to change its rule.

“We find this ordinance to be specifically engineered to target students,” said Riley Cagle of the Penn State Harrisburg Student Government Association. “We feel that it is unethical.”

Students say the ordinance limits their housing options and makes it difficult for students to get integrated into the community.

“They want to find an apartment nearby with local people. They want to understand their cultural and religious behaviors,” said Mohul Chaudhari, a Penn State Harrisburg student.

“I have no problem with it,” said Karen Richards, a Middletown resident.

The two big concerns are parking and partying.

“There’s a consequence of four or five people getting together, getting a little bit loud, but that’s true of any group of residents getting together,” said Dr. Clem Gilpin, who lives in Middletown.

Gilpin worked at Penn State Harrisburg for almost four decades and thinks the ordinance should be challenged.

“There’s a couple of business owners … and, of course, given the growth of the student population, they obviously see this as a potential market,” Gilpin said.

Last summer, students tried to get the zoning board to budge. It didn’t work, but the fight isn’t over.

Other Midstate municipalities have updated their ordinances. 

“We rent to college students, mostly Elizabethtown College students, and they did just change the rule down there, where now you can have five unrelated people living together,” said Cameron Norris, a realtor.

We reached out to the Middletown manager, mayor, and entire borough council. No one would comment.

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