Renters To Pack City Hall As Tampa Leaders Study Putting Controls On Rent Hikes

TAMPA, Fla. — Tiffany Pate would like to move from her current rental home. But she can’t. The cost of moving is too high and affordable alternatives to her current home are too few.

I have been looking, but when I put all the numbers together, it’s quite a bit of money to try to move out of here and find a new place and relocate,” Pate said.

Rent is creeping up at her current home, and she worries potential rate hikes in the future — combined with crippling inflation — will be nearly impossible to bear.

“I’m a licensed cosmetologist. I’ve actually been a licensed cosmetologist for about the last 24 years, so that’s my profession,” she said. “I make good money, so that’s not necessarily a problem, but when the bills are steadily rising — you know what I’m saying — I have to try to go up on my pricing, and it’s just not meeting — it’s not connecting.”

Thursday, Pate will be one of the dozens of renters who gather at Tampa City Council in an effort to urge Tampa City Council to take bigger, bolder steps.

In a workshop, council members will consider the idea of rent stabilization and how a potential ordinance could rein in future rent hikes. Council will study how rent control has been pursued in other cities, including some in Minnesota, California, and Oregon.

Passing rent control in Tampa, however, might be a trickier endeavor because of a restrictive Florida law.

In a memo from Monday, a city attorney warned council members that passing a rent control ordinance in Tampa would be “very risky” and would “very likely” be challenged in court.

Renters like Pate, though, will wear red shirts, pack Tampa City Hall during the Thursday council workshop and show support for council members to act.

Even if they don’t pursue rent control measures and related regulations, Pate believes they could do more to encourage more affordable housing developments across the city.

If more solutions aren’t achieved, Pate fears what will happen next, as many renters approach their breaking points.

“I do have clients, I have friends on social media, associates that I talk to, and you just see it kind of everywhere — where it’s just — everything is just going up. Just like living expenses are too high. It’s just too much,” she said. “You feel like, ‘What am I going to do? Where am I going to live?’ Your living situation is in jeopardy because you don’t know like — when you’re signing a lease, and I’ll be signing a lease in a couple of months — I don’t know what the rates are going to be, and that’s scary. That’s very scary.”

Council is set to begin its discussion of possible rent stabilization at 1:30 p.m.

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