Susan Helm is a Pennsylvania State Representative and licensed real estate broker. Recently she has been exploring the idea of whether it is discrimination to set limitations on where a student can live while in college. Currently in State College, PA, there are ordinances in place that restrict housing options to students enrolled at a university. In response, Helm proposed House Bill 809, which is a legislation with the intent to stop local governments from upholding restrictive ordinances like that toward students. While Helm views such guidelines as discriminatory, one manager of the State College Borough sees it as a tool that helps the economic wellness of the area. Tom Fountaine wants a distinction between college housing and more residential living.

One reason Fountaine is passionate about maintaining the existing ordinances is to prevent families already living in State College from leaving due to the conflicting interests of students and non-students both living in the area. While students are a key component of State College’s economic success, there is the factor of student crime that must be taken into account. Instances of student led public drunkenness, noise violations, and vandalism are the types of problems that equate to 60% of all crime in State College. Fountaine believes that the House Bill 809 would reduce the municipalities ability to deal with these issues and inadvertently impact the economy and quality of life available in the area.

Helm counteracted Fountaine’s comments on student crime by suggesting that possibly student only housing feeds into the areas crime issue. If students were more separated, it could provide a solution to the problem. Ultimately, Helm speaks on the fact that it is unfair to associate all students with crimes when only a small portion of the population is responsible for those acts. She remains passionate about the topic and wants the bill to pass. However, she understands amendments may need to occur before this happens.

To learn more about student housing in State College, PA, visit here.