SAINT PETERSBURG, Fla. — Katie Eastwood lives in Sarasota and her rent is going up by $500 a month. She said she cannot pay it and will have to move out.
"I’m scared, I’m really scared," said Eastwood.
And she’s not alone, the same story is happening to thousands of renters across the state.
"I’ve never seen the despair in my community like I’m seeing right now," said Aaron Dietrich, with People’s Council of Saint Petersburg.
The People’s Council of Saint Petersburg is an organization that is pushing for a local referendum where residents can vote for emergency rent stabilization for one year.
"Right now, we think that’s an emergency measure that’s needed for residents who frankly cannot hang on while everything increases except for their pay," said Dietrich.
But Dietrich says there’s currently a bill moving forward in the legislature that would jeopardize residents’ ability to vote on that issue.
Senate Bill 620, would allow a business to sue any city or county for damages if they adopt a regulation that would damage their business.
"That’s concerning for us as we see the will of voters being put second to the profit of businesses," said Dietrich.
And while a bill Dietrich says would hurt tenants is moving forward in the legislature, a bill that would help them is stalled.
"People are struggling and we need to help," said Florida Senator Victor Torres (D) District 15.
This is the third year Torres has filed a bill that would give rent control authority to local governments.
"We need compromise and we need to have these landlords understand the hardship that most of these families are going through," said Torres.
However, Torres says that the bill is gaining no traction. He encourages people to write and email their local legislators and encourage them to support Senate Bill 580 on rent control measures. An issue that Dietrich says is critical for the future of all Florida's residents.
"We think this is really an existential moment for Florida as we know it," said Dietrich.
To learn more about the People’s Council of Saint Petersburg, visit peoplescouncilstpete.org.