College Kids Need Homes, Too!

For anybody wise enough to not get married right out of high school (and please, people, don’t get married unless you absolutely have to), it’s sort of a rite of passage to spend part of your early adult years living with a couple of your best friends.
Generally, everybody chips in and rents an ageing house in an area full of like-minded people. Okay, maybe a token senior citizen or two will live in the neighborhood, but for the most part everybody in the general area is living on their own for the first time.
What generally happens is that for a couple of years you live a sort-of rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle – late nights, even later mornings, fast food, loud music, beer, and (hopefully) no-strings relationships. After a couple of years of fun, the real world creeps into your life, and the fun is tempered a little bit by silly necessities such as the desire for privacy, careers, and (again, hopefully not) serious relationships.
That’s exactly what occurs to countless young adults in the area around and between Augustana and the University of Sioux Falls. Desiring more freedom and wanting to rid oneself of unwanted roommates in the college’s dorms, students of both colleges (along with a few non-collegiate pals) can be found in many of the homes of that area. Granted, some can be classified as party houses, but for the most part few of them are any louder than a typical two-income family with 2.3 kids and 1.8 vehicles.
I lived that life for a couple of years in my mid-20’s, and it was the time of my life. A buddy of mine and I shared a two bedroom home whose couches always seemed to attract an extra friend or two…along with some temporary companions (including one who was unfortunately arrested a few days ago).
We had our moments when we weren’t the most popular residents of the neighborhood, but for the most part we got along with all of our neighbors. For every summer blowout party, we had to endure 6 a.m. mowings and screaming little bastards.
Many of these memories came to mind this past weekend as I read the daily paper. I thought about old friends I hadn’t been in contact with in years, such as the bar owner who regularly showed up after closing with a box of beer and whiskey. Or the cokewhore who walked 10 blocks through the slushy streets without shoes on New Years Eve to hang out with me. Oh yeah, and the so-called friend who lived on a couch for months and months without contributing one cent towards our rent or utilities.
The reason these memories came to light? The front page of the paper had a story on four college students who had received a notice from the city that at least one of them needed to move out of the four-bedroom home they shared in the area I described earlier. It seems that the city has an ordinance the precluded more than three non-related people sharing a home in an area zoned for single-family housing.
Let me get this straight. A family who has not discovered the joys of contraception can fill a small home or apartment with as many relatives as they can squeeze into a residence, but only three people can share a relatively large home that has plenty of room? My god, people wonder why I say this town is screwed up.
Even worse, the only reason the city even knows about this situation is because of an anonymous tip. Yes, we now have housing narcs. Talk about a bogus situation. Could this informant be a jilted lover, or an angry co-worker? Or even somebody who desires the same person as a resident? Unlikely, I know, and it probably comes down to nothing more than a busy-body neighbor who didn’t think they shoveled the snow quick enough for their liking.
One thing is sure, though, is that these are not problem tenants. If they were, their landlord would certainly not be going to bat for them as he indicated in the initial story. “They’ve been awesome tenants,” landlord Rob Deelstra told the paper.
At least there’s some good news in this case. Or at least temporarily there is. The City Council actually did the right thing for a change, and agreed that they will look into revising this silly law. While the ordinance is under review, City Attorney Gary Colwill told the Argus that he will not pursue action against these renters.
But there are no assurances that any changes in the ordinance will occur. The city councilors interviewed in the story were pretty non-committal, and there are already letter writers and blog contributors making a giant leap in bringing up instances where dozens of illegal immigrants jammed into small apartments died in house fires. Leave it to the wingnuts to link a simple story of young adults being wronged into one of their pet platforms.

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