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Tampa leaders consider rent stabilization across the city

Florida law prohibits cities from regulating rent, but Tampa's city council chair believes there is a loophole in the law.

TAMPA, Fla. — With the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Tampa just over $1,700, Tampa City Council Chair Orlando Gudes decided it was time to take a public approach to a private-sector problem.

“I researched rent stabilization and [what] other cities are doing across the country now,” said Gudes, who has directed the city’s legal team to investigate the feasibility of rent stabilization.

Although the Florida legislature preempts cities from regulating rental prices, Gudes said he believes there is a loophole in the law.

“I was able to find a loophole, the word ‘emergency housing situations,’” he said. “And now I think that's going to be the key for some of these cities and here locally that we can use that as a referendum for the voters or council to be able to fine-tune a rent stabilization program.”

The inquiry is similar to what St. Pete is exploring. This month, St. Petersburg City Council voted 6-1 to explore declaring a housing emergency, which could make way for rent freezes.

“I don't understand why now rent is going up four, five, or $600 on someone and their paycheck is not changing,” said Gudes. “Thirty percent of their salary you're now utilizing toward rent. How are they gonna pay a car note? How they're going to pay for kids’ daycare?”

This month, Tampa’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee presented the council with steps the city is taking to address the housing crisis.

The city has a goal of building 10,000 affordable units by 2027. More than 800 have started to go up this year alone, and at least 1500 more are on the horizon. However, leaders say that's not enough.

"We are a victim of our success,” councilman Guido Maniscalco said during the AHAC presentation in early December. “We have so many people moving here and the demand is so huge, that not only are we behind, but we're barely able to keep up.”

Leaders say the price of development has come at the cost of everyday people.

"Our middle, higher income level people are now suffering, and now they're complaining as well,” said Gudes. “So that's an issue. So, it's not just in the marginalized, poor communities. It's really all over the city."

The city's legal department is expected to have a report for city council on the feasibility of rent stabilization by February of next year.

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