ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — There won’t be a rent stabilization referendum on the November ballot in St. Petersburg.
City council voted 5-3 Thursday not to move forward with any further discussions on rent control, following hours of public comment.
The decision didn’t sit well with renters. Dozens of them chanted and shouted not too long after the vote.
Dozens of renters gave emotional testimony Thursday. Renters like Evelyn Long said they’re simply desperate for help. She worries about rent every month.
“This is life or death,” Long said. “This is do or die for us.”
“All these people are explaining that they’re suffering. They’re disabled. They’re living in poverty. They’re taking care of children. They’re working in St. Pete and to vote that down after such an emotional testimony — I just don’t know how you could do it in good conscience,” Long said.
Landlords said they don’t want rent control because they’re also dealing with rising costs.
“It appears the city is not taking into consideration what we as property owners are dealing with,” one landlord said.
Council chair Gina Driscoll says she voted against rent control because the city has other legal methods of creating more affordable housing in St. Petersburg.
“It would be incredibly difficult to create a rent control situation that would not draw a class action lawsuit,” Driscoll said.
She says she plans to talk with administrators to try and strengthen the assistance they provide for renters.
“Today should be giving us more of a sense of urgency to create better rental assistance for people who are facing evictions and massive rent increases right now,” Driscoll said.
Renters like Long plan to keep fighting.
“We have to be out here fighting. We have to sleep out here on these streets. We have to do it because otherwise, our options are homelessness, displacement or death,” Long said. “They’re saying that we should be less enraged about the poverty that we’re living in when it’s their responsibility to provide us with our human rights and housing is a human right.”