OCEAN CITY — Less than a month after nearly two dozen foreign students working in the resort for the summer on J-1 work and travel visas were evicted from substandard housing downtown, a local business owner this week urged the Mayor and Council to address the broader issues associated with overcrowding and poor living conditions.
In July, roughly 20 Irish J-1 students were evicted from their seasonal student housing rentals after it was determined they were living in seasonal housing that exceeded the town’s maximum occupancy codes. City officials including Mayor Rick Meehan and Councilman Wayne Hartman responded and helped work with the displaced foreign summer workers on finding new accommodations for the remainder of their time in Ocean City.
It is certainly not a new issue and has been going on in Ocean City for many years to varying degrees. Last year, the Mayor and Council worked for several months to tighten the town’s maximum occupancy ordinance to at least 40 square feet per occupant and promised stiff inspections and enforcement and yet infractions such as those that surfaced in July still occur and many others go unreported.
During the public comment period of Monday’s Mayor and Council meeting, business owner Shannon Tippett urged the elected officials to further explore ways to improve seasonal workforce housing and step up enforcement in light of last month’s evictions. Tippett spoke from personal experience related to the J-1 employees she hires.