PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — As rent climbs across the bay area, city leaders in St. Petersburg are looking into the idea of rent control.

According to a report by Apartment List, St. Pete rent has increased 0.3% over the past month and ios up by 31.7% over the last year.

On Thursday St. Petersburg City Council voted 6-1 to look into freezing rent increases for the next year. To do that, the city would need to declare a housing state of emergency.

“We’re in a housing emergency. We need help. We need emergency measures,” said Karla Correa, Organizer of the St. Pete Tenants Union, who is demanding city leaders take action.

“It’s very difficult for people to find homes,” Correa added. “If landlords can charge whatever they want, they’re going to charge whatever they want. If there’s nothing stopping them from raising the rent why would you not raise the rent.”

City council member Robert Blackmon was the only member at the meeting to vote no. He believes rent control would have unintended consequences.

“What that will do is that will spike the price of rentals because that will be less supply with an ever-growing demand. So it will actually have the opposite effect of what those who are pushing for want it to have,” said Blackmon, who supports city-backed mortgage programs instead.

“Supplies are really strained right now. That’s why we need to move towards a homeownership system in the city of Saint Pete where we can truly make meaningful change on if we put people on the path to homeownership.”

Correa said renters are being priced out of their homes, and worries the problem will only get worse.

“People’s rent goes up, but their wage isn’t going up,” she said. “We need something done.”

As of now, city council members and incoming Mayor Ken Welch need to look at the issue.

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