St. Pete council committee rejects rent control resolution

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A St. Petersburg City Council committee voted against a new resolution Thursday morning for rent control.

It was part of the regular meeting scheduled for this morning to discuss capping the amount of money landlords and landlords can charge for monthly rent over a 12-month period.


But this affordable housing aid measure failed, with three council members voting no.

Down votes came from board members Brandy Gabbard, Gina Driscoll and Ed Montanari. Councilor Richie Floyd was the yes in a 3-1 tally that prevents the issue from reaching the full council.

The same four board members then voted, 4 to 0, to consider reassessing the use of US bailout dollars.

Gabbard addressed the struggle to pay rent, but she also expressed concerns about rent control.

“We would then place restrictions on those already providing that level of housing,” Gabbard said. “That would be a huge problem for me. I certainly understand that we have a crisis, and I hear that, but implementing something about who are the good players in this area, to me, is very incredibly difficult, might just exacerbate our problem.

Gabbard also cited the potential legal ramifications of rent control.

In December, the city council asked lawyers to research whether considering a housing emergency might allow the city to put a referendum on the ordinance on the ballot for voters to decide.

Thursday’s vote impacts residents like Stacey Rush. She lost her flat last month after saying her lease had ended and her rent had doubled in price.

Rush protested for months with the People’s Council group, asking city leaders to relieve people like her who cannot afford to raise rent prices. Rush says he has few options left. Right now, she’s been living on her daughter’s couch, thinking of ways to make more money, like selling art.

Rush said she was trying to save for one of these tiny houses because that’s all she’ll probably be able to afford. In the meantime, she hopes leaders will come up with a plan to help people like her. City council members voted to re-evaluate how they spend federal dollars.

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