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Community Voices: Why I slept outside for housing

Nick Carey



Sr. Petersburg City Hall. Photo by Bill DeYoung.

Welcome to the Catalyst’s Community Voices platform. We’ve curated community leaders and thinkers from all parts of our great city to speak on issues that affect us all. Visit our Community Voices page for more details.

When I started working on a campaign to educate residents on the $45 million the City of St. Petersburg would receive from the American Rescue Plan in the first half of 2021, I knew that access to affordable housing was a problem for many residents. So I wasn’t surprised when I asked people about how the money should be spent that there was a large consensus around affordable housing.

However, I was surprised to hear people’s stories of $400-$1,000 increases or just flat out non-renewal notices for rent. I heard from people who were willing to do anything to keep a roof over their family’s heads. Perhaps most surprising was what people were willing to do for those in their community. Along the way, I’ve seen friends and leaders of this movement that were not impacted when they got involved suddenly grapple with the reality of housing instability in their lives.

The work of everyday people in St. Petersburg built a movement that believes that every resident should be guaranteed housing and as such, we are in a housing emergency.

The collective work of over 1,000 residents pushed their elected leaders to consider options not previously seen as possible. This work spread throughout Florida and ignited a fire that has led Orange County and the City of Tampa to declare that their areas are in a housing state of emergency.

However, here in St. Petersburg, local officials have stalled in finding a solution to stabilize rent.

While leadership from the state would be most impactful, our governor and state legislature have turned their back on residents. So we are left with our local leaders to do everything they can to implement imperfect solutions and sidestep the obstacles put in front of them.

My faith tradition calls me to love my neighbor and serve “the least of these,” and I truly believe that the greatest change we can make to address this is to take on collectively the social responsibility of providing a home for all of our neighbors. I love God, and I am serving God when I love and serve marginalized people in my community. Therefore I will do whatever is necessary to stand, sit, or “sleep in” with my neighbors in my beloved community.

Faith in Florida organizer Nick Carey was one of 25 protesters who slept on the steps of St. Petersburg City Hall Aug. 3. 

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  1. Avatar

    M Kosempa

    August 9, 2022at6:32 pm

    Supporting rent control is the exact opposite of christian generosity. If you want to help someone, then you help them. Supporting rent control is textbook tyrannical theft. Rent control is granting the government the ability to steal from landowners. That’s not generosity. Stealing is wrong.

  2. Avatar

    Rose Hayes

    August 10, 2022at6:44 pm

    WOW, I guess for some it is okay for people to Not have a place to live. I support whatever legal method that will help the houseless get a decent affordable place to live.

  3. Avatar

    Rodney Mccrea

    August 29, 2022at12:10 am

    Am a single father 52 years of age daughter 13 an son 15 we have been homeless going on almost 2 years in fort myers florida,we were in rapid rehousing program an was promised a stable place being in a hotel for one whole year was over they put us out the hotel in which they gave away about 3 places away that was for my kids an myself, so we are back homeless again sleeping where we can waiting on the waiting list again do to negligence with our caseworker from a nonprofit organization she is no longer employed their but the boss is failing to answer my questions about me an my kids deprived from housing, still no answer it has been since May 2022 we were kicked out the hotel without stable housing that was promised for months an months, we had money saved up in the program had to spend it all on hotel expenses for months we have no more money an still homeless waiting with no answers from catholic charities, sleeping in card or where ever we can find a place, no hotel vouchers no where,.we do have transportation but struggling with gas, can someone out their please help me an my babies, Rodney McCrea #239-333-5144 fort myers florida I can present you all my paperwork an hotel receipts for 4 months just disgusting how they treated me an my kids discrinated against us, now we having to start all over again me an my kids are suffering anxiety an depression please help us find some type of closure thank you, god bless

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