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.
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.