ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Strapped for cash. That’s how many people in Tampa Bay are feeling as rent prices continue to skyrocket.
St. Petersburg city leaders just made a change to help protect renters by requiring landlords to give month-to-month tenants a 21-day notice to vacate instead of 15 days. But many, including Aaron Deitrich of the SEIU Public Services Union, said it doesn’t go far enough.
The average price of a one-bedroom apartment in St. Petersburg is more than $1,600 a month. The price has increased 24% in the past year, according to the Business Observer. That’s the third-highest rental spike in the nation.
“It’s good to see some attention to these issues, but as we’re on the ground and talking to people; we’re feeling it’s a real state of emergency,” said Deitrich.
Deitrich’s union is fighting for pay increases of 2-3% for St. Pete city workers but he said that doesn’t come close to competing with inflated rent prices.
“When we’re talking about housing, this isn’t a market issue this is a human issue,” he explained.
Yet, landlords like Andy Orfitelli feel like they’re facing an uphill battle too.
“It’s been really difficult. I have 7 properties around here and the more news that comes out; the less people want to pay,” he explained.
Many of Orfitelli’s tenants haven’t paid rent in months and he worries how long it will be until he can count on rent checks coming in.
“It’s just very unfair for people to think that the landlords don’t have mortgages and when we don’t get paid it’s okay because it’s not,” he added.
Orfitelli said he even offered not to increase rent at all if his tenants started paying their monthly fees, but it hasn’t made a difference.
ABC Action News checked and found several local rental assistance programs in nearly every bay area county. One state program called Our Florida will pay up to 15 months of rent and utilities. They’re currently taking applications and hope to start processing them in May 2022.
Many local cities are also working to create incentives for developers to build affordable housing.
Christopher McGuckin recently moved to St. Petersburg a few weeks ago and says the rent prices are giving him sticker shock. He adds that any solutions cannot come soon enough. “When we have less money to share amongst ourselves and to spend, the businesses can’t thrive. There’s no fuel going into the fire,” he elaborated.
You can find more information on rental assistance here:
Eligible Florida renters can qualify for up to 15 months of rent and utility payments. This includes 12 months of past due rent and utilities and three months of forward-looking rent payments.
R3 Emergency Rental Assistance Program
This program is open for eligible residents with a household income at or below 80% Area Median Income (AMI) or with zero income 90 days prior to application date.
This program is open for eligible residents with a household income at or below 80% Area Median Income (AMI). Households that have experienced unemployment and are under 50% AMI will be prioritized.
Pinellas County Emergency Rental Assistance Program
This program is open for eligible residents with a household income at or below 80% Area Median Income (AMI).
This program provides eligible households with up to 12 months of assistance, plus an additional three months if the grantee determines the extra months are needed to ensure housing stability.
Many bay area cities also have their own rental assistance programs.
Some programs are based on the Area Median Income or AMI. The AMI for the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area is $72,700. Eligible applicants for emergency rental assistance must have a household income at or below 80% of the area median income (AMI). See the list below for the household income limits by number of household members.
1 - $41,350
2 - $47,250
3 - $53,150
4 - $59,050
5 - $63,800
6 - $68,500
7 - $73,250
8 - $77,950
Documents Typically Needed to Apply for Programs:
- Current lease
- Landlord verification
- Government issued ID
- Letter from employer, unemployment office or doctor stating job loss, reduced hours and/or quarantined due to COVID19
- Past due payment notices from the landlord or property management company
- Sources of current annual income for all household members for the last 30 days
- Social Security benefit statements
- Pension statements
- Valid social security identification and valid state issued photo identification for each household member