TAMPA, Fla. — As many in Tampa struggle to pay rising rents, city leaders are working to answer an important question: What can they do to make rents more affordable?
As rents continue to climb in Tampa, at times, all Marilyn Bailey can do is pray.
Already forced from one home because of a rent increase, now, history is poised to repeat itself. Her current monthly rent will soon rise from $932 to $1,043.
To the 75-year-old retiree, even a 12% increase in rent is troubling.
“I’m living on a fixed income. I can pay it, but it’s going to really be a stretch for me. It’s going to take away from other things that I need to take care of,” she said.
Bailey isn’t alone. Over the past year, many Tampa rents have climbed 30% or more.
“There’s no signs of it slowing down,” director of the Center for Economic Development Kella McCaskill said. “I’m still seeing increases of 50-60% if not more than that.”
During a workshop Thursday, dozens of people turned out to Tampa City Council to take a stand against the rising cost of rent and ask for real solutions. Many people shared their personal stories of how they've been affected by the crisis.
“We have to do more, because if not, we become a victim of our own success, but the success is benefiting the people with the means and the money that can afford. What about everybody else?” Tampa City Council member Guido Maniscalco said.
“When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, or as some folks said here, living on social security, on a fixed income, etc. it’s really, really torture," Tampa City Council member Luis Viera said.
Ultimately during the meeting, City Council passed a motion asking staff to come back on June 16 to report on a tenant advocacy program and a Gainesville landlord registry program.
Advocates explained this is a part of the puzzle.
Robin Lockett is a regional director of the group Florida Rising — which advocates for economic and racial justice across Florida.
“We need rent stabilization, and we need for the city of Tampa to declare a housing state of emergency," Lockett said.
“There has to be a solution,” Bailey said.
For now, Bailey has a frustrating solution of her own: finding a part-time job.
“And at 75 years old, I didn’t expect to have to go back to work,” she said.