The bill to “curb student housing” became a law in a four-to-one vote by Binghamton City Council last Wednesday.

Originally proposed in the summer of 2022 by Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham, the legislation intends to expand the housing market for non-student renters and strengthen the city of Binghamton’s power in regulating student housing, according to a press release. The law has now passed, with Council members Giovanni Scaringi, Sophia Resciniti, Philip Strawn and Thomas Scanlon voting “aye,” Council member Angela Riley voting “nay” and Council members Aviva Friedman and Joe Burns absent.

After the legislation was approved, Kraham emphasized how the bill could benefit both permanent residents and students, describing students as a “vibrant part of the community.”

“I want to see students find good housing options, and I want to see families find them, too,” Kraham said. “I think [this legislation] will increase the diversified housing market for families and students. I don’t want to see students competing against families for affordable housing in Binghamton. These regulations will ensure this isn’t happening.”

Prior to voting on the bill, Riley, who represents Binghamton’s third district, expressed concern regarding the bill’s plans for individual property owners. Compared to other Council members’ districts, Riley’s district has a high concentration of student housing and student residents, according to Friedman.

“Many years ago, there was a report developed with the approval of all of the stakeholders — students, non-student residents and landlords — that was a bit more comprehensive and ensured the safety of the properties and ensured the properties would be well maintained to retain the spirit of the neighborhood,” Riley wrote in a separate statement. “As you know there are several problems in the area as it stands regarding traffic, parking, garbage, quality, safety (think of the fire on Front Street no hard-wired alarms), etc. It is during this change in the legislation that we can add additional language, as supported by the stakeholders, to benefit all.”

The City Council agreed these ambiguities would be addressed in the next Planning Commission work session on Monday, Oct. 31.

Some students expressed conflicting feelings regarding the bill’s passage. Tyler Gibbens, a junior majoring in chemistry, described his uncertainty when considering how these changes may affect his already-signed lease for the next academic year.

“I can understand [the legislation],” Gibbens said. “Some families, if they are living paycheck to paycheck, they don’t want to be in competition with, or be surrounded by, a bunch of college kids. But I don’t see it as so much of a competition, because I think there’s not as many students living in houses as some people think. I think it’s a smaller number. Also, a lot of students are living in really big houses, like five, six bedroom houses. I feel most families are smaller, and don’t need a five or six bedroom house.”

According to Kraham, the newly passed legislation will make it easier for code enforcement to determine which groups qualify as “functional families,” and can legally reside in some residential zones, and which cannot. Students with questions regarding their housing can refer to the City Charter and Code of Ordinances, or can request a zoning inspection from Binghamton Code Enforcement prior to signing their lease.

Michael Scorcia, an undeclared sophomore, offered a different point of view on the Binghamton housing conversation. Scorcia described the migration of permanent residents out of Binghamton and Johnson City — where the new Health Sciences Campus is — and into areas such as Endicott.

“I was walking recently, in Johnson City on the actual Main Street, and it’s kind of an interesting juxtaposition,” Scorcia said. “You saw a kind of newly renovated facade of the student housing, while the actual Main Street was dilapidated, and wasn’t being taken care of — not a lot of economic activity going on there, for the town itself. It looks like [the city] is dedicating some areas directly for student housing, but at the same time, students do need a place to live off campus. It is very hard to afford living on campus.”