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Tampa City Council unanimously advances tenants rights ordinance

The 7-0 vote reverses an earlier council defeat.
 
Tampa City Council member Joseph Citro (pictured here in 2019) said he changed his vote on a tenants rights measure because a state preemption effort failed in Tallahassee. Citro was one of four City Council members who switched their votes on the measure, which passed 7-0 on Friday.
Tampa City Council member Joseph Citro (pictured here in 2019) said he changed his vote on a tenants rights measure because a state preemption effort failed in Tallahassee. Citro was one of four City Council members who switched their votes on the measure, which passed 7-0 on Friday. [ OCTAVIO JONES | Times ]
Published Feb. 22, 2022|Updated Feb. 22, 2022

TAMPA — City Council member Luis Viera likened the passage of a tenants rights bill, which suffered a strange defeat in his absence earlier this month, to hitting a single in the city’s effort to ease Tampa’s raging affordable housing crisis.

City Council members revisited the issue because Viera was absent for the earlier vote and had requested his colleagues to reconsider their decision.

On Thursday, two members who had voted against the ordinance, Charlie Miranda and Joseph Citro, voted to bring it back to the table. This time it passed unanimously.

Related: Tampa City Council may give tenants rights ordinance another look

The ordinance requires landlords to provide tenants with a list of their rights under local, state and federal law and would bar landlords from discriminating against tenants who receive housing assistance such as Section 8 vouchers.

Hillsborough County passed a similar ordinance last year.

Citro said a state effort that might have preempted the proposal had died in the Legislature.

“That died, so now I want to bring it back,” Citro said, explaining why he switched his vote.

Miranda said he worried about people seeking housing not having good information. He said he was recently approached by constituents who had taken out reverse mortgages without knowing the details of that financial transaction and that influenced his decision to vote for the measure.

John Dingfelder, another former opponent, said he worried about small landlords, who might have inherited a house, being subjected to federal paperwork for Section 8 voucher holders. But, he said, he was persuaded by his fellow council members that “it was the right thing to do.”

“We might get some pushback, but that’s OK,” Dingfelder said.

Chairman Orlando Gudes and council member Guido Maniscalco were the only votes in favor of the ordinance on Feb. 3.

Gudes said Thursday that residents supported city government taking a role in the housing crisis. That’s why he decided to bring the county ordinance to City Hall for approval.

“People are hungry for it. People are adamant about it,” Gudes said.