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More and more people are finding themselves living paycheck to paycheck in the greater Tampa Bay region. In some places, rent has doubled. The cost of everyday goods — like gas and groceries — keeps creeping up. All the while, wages lag behind and the affordable housing crisis looms. Amid cost-of-living increases, WUSF is focused on documenting how people are making ends meet.

St. Petersburg explores options to protect renters after state law bans city's tenant bill of rights

On Thursday, council members voted to repeal the city's Tenant Bill of Rights to remain in compliance with new state rules. Now, the city is exploring what options remain.

The City of St. Petersburg repealed its Tenant Bill of Rights last week. Council members voted 7-0 to retract the local renter protections with Lisset Hanewicz absent from the meeting.

The move comes after a new state law went into effect on July 1 that undercuts local government's authority to regulate "landlord-tenant relationships."

St. Petersburg is one of an estimated 35 localities across Florida that codified stronger protections for renters in recent years — and is now forced to retract them.

READ MORE: St. Petersburg begins process of repealing its own Tenant Bill of Rights

Now, St. Petersburg is exploring what options might remain for passing measures related to housing.

After the vote on Thursday, council member Richie Floyd championed the idea of repackaging certain measures, like anti-discrimination policies, in a way that's still allowed.

"When the Legislature preempted us, they specifically preempted landlord-tenant relationships but — and legal can correct me if I'm wrong — my understanding is that our ability to protect things like source-of-income discrimination, could be derived from the Fair Housing Act," Floyd said.

City attorney Jackie Kovilaritch said the council's ability to redraft ordinances that are related to housing is uncertain, but her staff would research the matter.

At a previous meeting, on July 20, she advised council members that repealing the Tenant Bill of Rights was paramount to remain in compliance with state law, but that discussions about the viability of citywide anti-discrimination measures could happen separately.

"My takeaway from this and what we would plan to present is: What, if anything, can the city do in this area, in light of the preemption?" she said during the Aug. 3 meeting. "And that's something that we have to do additional research on."

A secondary motion, introduced by Floyd, passed 5-1 to refer "a discussion on discrimination city-wide, including in housing," to the city's Housing, Land Use and Transportation Committee. Council member Ed Montanari voted against the motion, with Copley Gerdes absent at the time of the vote and Lisett Hanewicz absent from the meeting.

The committee, which is chaired by Floyd, is set to pick up the discussion on Thursday.

Gabriella Paul covers the stories of people living paycheck to paycheck in the greater Tampa Bay region for WUSF. She's also a Report for America corps member. Here’s how you can share your story with her.

I tell stories about living paycheck to paycheck for public radio at WUSF News. I’m also a corps member of Report For America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms.