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St. Pete renters determined to continue fighting for rent control after city council vote fails

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Posted at 6:14 PM, Aug 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-12 18:39:08-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Valerie Brannon was born legally blind. Now the St. Pete grandmother helps care for her three young grandchildren who live with her, but right now, because of rent increases, they don’t have a home to live in.

"I was paying $1,566 and it went up to $2,400 so I had to leave," said Brannon.

Since July 1st, Brannon said they’ve been living in a hotel while trying to find a home to rent. But organizations that fight to help renters said skyrocketing rents in St. Pete have made it nearly impossible to find somewhere affordable.

"If you make less than $50,000 there are effectively no options for you to pay less than 30% of income on rent and that’s over half of the city," said Nick Carey, with the organization Faith in Florida.

On Thursday, renters packed St. Pete City Hall and pleaded for leaders to do something about surging rent prices.

RELATED: Efforts to put rent control in St. Pete on the November ballot fails

But despite their efforts, St. Pete City Council members scrapped its resolution to declare a housing emergency and voted 5 to 3 against moving forward with discussing rent stabilization.

Council Chair Gina Driscoll was one of the five who voted against it and says she’s also a renter.

"My hope is that we’re going to move forward and continue our discussions that we’ve been having on other housing solutions that have a clearer path legally and that truly benefit our city," said Driscoll.

But other renters said they will continue to fight for something to be done.

"We see this as a win in holding our officials accountable but we’re not going to give this up because it's not going away for people in the city," said Carey.

Brannon said her faith in God is what keeps her hopeful that she can cook warm meals in a home for her grandkids again someday soon.

"Zora’s birthday is in November. So I pray and hope I have a place where I can cook her, her birthday dinner," said Brannon.

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