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Tampa leaders acknowledge housing crisis as renters push for rent control

Rent Protest
Posted at 8:50 PM, Feb 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-24 20:50:48-05

TAMPA, Fla. — As rent prices skyrocket in Tampa Bay, many residents are pushing back.

All of Robert Woods' belongings are currently in a storage unit, after a rent increase forced him out of his Tampa apartment.

“I’m temporarily staying with family,” said Robert Woods. “Everyone was forced out because their rent increased anywhere from $500 to $700,” he said.

He said rate hikes have left many working people like himself without a home.

“I’ve met a lot of people who are displaced,” Woods said.

Woods joined dozens of renters at Tampa City Hall Thursday wearing red, symbolizing the housing crisis, and urging council members to take action to stabilize rent.

“There is a crisis no doubt about that. When I go to the McDonalds and Burger King in the morning and I see mothers taking their kids, washing them up on the McDonald's bathroom,” said Orlando Gudes, City Council Chairman.

City Council is considering the idea of rent control, studying ordinances in other parts of the country. The Assistant City Attorney Rebecca Johns, warned council members that rent control could lead to lawsuits because of restrictive state law from the 1970s.

“No jurisdiction in Florida has enacted a rent control ordinance, so we have no guidance as to how those requirements, would be interpreted by a court” Johns said.

Still, residents said the city needs to find a solution now, whether it's rent control or more affordable housing.

“Tampa has the highest rent increases in the entire state of Florida and one of the highest in the country. People can't keep a roof over their heads,” said Alana Greer, Director of Community Justice Project.

Council members agreed to call the skyrocketing of rent a “crisis.” They will meet again on May 26 to discuss ideas on how to tackle it.

But there was not a motion to declare a housing emergency, which is required to pursue temporary rent control in Florida.