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Plans to put Tampa housing declaration emergency on ballot fails

If the ordinance was adopted Thursday and got enough support from voters in November, the city would've been able to cap rent prices.

TAMPA, Fla. — Renters and neighbors packed the Tampa City Council meeting Thursday to express support for rent stabilization.

However, a motion to adopt the draft ordinance on putting a housing emergency declaration on the November ballot failed 4-2 with Council Member Bill Carlson absent.

Supporters hoped it would get enough support on the ballot and give the council the ability to enact rent control.

Some council members expressed concerns including the need for a study to better understand the impact rent control would have on tenants.

It comes after the council voted 6-1 last week in favor of moving forward with plans to put a housing emergency declaration on the ballot.

The measure would likely face a legal fight due to state law, however, council members in favor said they were up for the challenges.

Those supporting the measure said they believe it would alleviate their financial burdens. Meanwhile, other speakers argue it's necessary given the number of people being evicted or losing their homes to the rising rent prices.

"I was making decent amount of money with my work. Now, I'm living paycheck to paycheck," Getulio Gonzalez-Mulatteri said.

However, public comments also drew opposition from landlords who argued rent control would instead harm tenants and hinder the much-needed supply of housing.

Some argued the need for the city to make better use of its tax revenues and it should be up to the state Legislature to provide for those harmed by the current rent prices. 

"It is a serious problem to have rents this high but the solution isn't rent control," Andrew Dougill, a private landlord in Tampa, said.

Had the council adopted the draft ordinance, a final vote was expected to take place on Aug. 22.

The deadline to put rent control on the ballot has to be before Aug. 23, according to the city's legal department.

Ahead of the council vote, renters and housing activists also gathered outside city hall demanding more funds for affordable housing be included in Tampa Mayor Jane Castor's proposed budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year.

Castor announced she is proposing to devote $5.5 million in general fund money and $20 million overall for housing-related services.

In St. Petersburg, the city council voted to draft a resolution and place its own housing state of emergency measure on the ballot.

Demonstrators woke up on the steps of St. Pete City Hall as part of a sleep-in to protest rising rent prices.

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