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St. Pete renters host emergency sleep in, demand rent solutions

City leaders move one step forward to putting rent control on ballot
St. Pete Rent Protest
Posted at 6:32 PM, Aug 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-04 19:03:29-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.  — St. Petersburg is one step closer to allowing voters to decide on rent control measures this November.

On Thursday, city council members voted to move forward on crafting a draft resolution that could lead to rent control being added as a ballot measure. City leaders will meet again on Thursday, August 11th to discuss the measure.

It comes as more than 30 people wrap up an emergency sleep in where they spent the night Wednesday into Thursday morning camped out in front of city hall.

Many of those residents tell ABC Action News they’ve seen rent increases between $300 and $500 more a month.

They say without help, they worry that rent prices will continue to spike which will force them out of the city they call home.

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Tampa City Council ready to act on rent control despite likely legal fight

Some city leaders worry it could set St. Pete up for lawsuits because state law prohibits rent control.

“I prefer to spend the money we have for affordable housing on actual initiatives that can work and would not draw legal challenge as this is likely to do. I want us to get bolder and find real solutions that work. Beyond affordable housing. Let’s look at our programs. Let’s see how we can pump that up. I want to move forward with things that work and don’t get us sued,” said council member Gina Driscoll.

Dozens of St. Pete renters spoke up during Thursday’s meeting.

Janney Karioki can’t believe how much her rent has increased. “It’s become insanely expensive. My rent is double the price it was 2 years ago. It’s impossible to travel from outside the city into the city to work at a job where you work for $7 an hour. Some days I leave with $15 tips because nobody is coming into the restaurant,” she explained.

Karla Correa chimed in, “We’re tired of having to choose between food and rent. We’re tired of getting evicted. If my rent goes up anymore, I will be homeless and thousands of St Pete residents are in the same boat as myself.”