St. Petersburg renters will present housing demands at final city council meeting of the year

'The only way we're going to see change in this city is if working people come together and make demands.'

click to enlarge St. Pete People's Council members decry the sudden eviction of renters for Cordova Inn's expansion. - JUSTIN GARCIA
Justin Garcia
St. Pete People's Council members decry the sudden eviction of renters for Cordova Inn's expansion.
As the holidays ramp up, people across the Tampa Bay are going homeless due to rapidly rising rents and cutthroat evictions during an ongoing pandemic. At the end of November, more than 7,893 people had been evicted in Tampa Bay this year. Nearly 3,000 of those evictions were in Pinellas County.

On Thursday, Dec. 16 at 5 p.m., the St. Pete People's Council, a coalition of renters, will push back on this trend as it presents its demand for guaranteed housing to St. Pete City Council. The first tactic SPPC agreed on at a recent meeting was to present a petition for guaranteed housing to council.

"Remember, they [city council] have all the resources to house everyone in this city but it is a deliberate choice not to," SPPC wrote in a post about the upcoming meeting.

St. Pete, along with the rest of Tampa Bay, is on track to become more rent burdened than Los Angeles, with people of color bearing the brunt of the burden.

Last week, council changed the amount of notice landlords have to give renters to move out of a property from 15 to 21 days.

This week, WMNF reported that members of SPPC were upset by this decision, which they say does not give renters enough time to find new housing, potentially making them homeless. They had asked for 30 days notice as a compromise.

In October, CL published a story about a St. Pete renter named Kelvin Washington, who was evicted last minute and rushing to move out of his home due to planned expansion at downtown's Cordova Inn. Washington died due to heart complications after he collapsed on his apartment floor.

Despite keeping eviction notices short, city council did vote to pass a resolution that makes it harder for landlords to discriminate against tenants based on income. While the resolution now makes it harder for Lyft and Uber drivers to be discriminated against, other aspects were heavily edited by the Bay Area Apartment Association (BAAA). Landlords can still discriminate against those on unemployment and government assistance, as well as those who benefit from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs.

BAAA also made it so landlords can fine tenants if they break the 21-day-notice of eviction.

Though they have faced challenges in having their demands from the city met, SPPC plans to continue their push for secure housing on Thursday.

"The only way we're going to see change in this city is if working people come together and make demands," SPPC wrote. "Power concedes nothing without a demand!"

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About The Author

Justin Garcia

Justin Garcia previously wrote for the USA Today Network, The Economic Hardship Reporting Project, Scalawag Magazine, and various other news outlets. When he's not writing, Justin likes to make music, read, play basketball and spend time with loved ones. 

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