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The Rent Is Too Damn High




I’ve resisted writing this post for a few days because I was angry and upset. I still am.

I’ve lived at this address since I moved to St. Pete 8 years ago. The city I fell in love with was full of quirky artists and musicians doing their own thing in cafes and dive bars. I can’t count how many have moved out of the city/state/ or gone out of business.

Sure, COVID definitely had some hand, but COVID didn’t let investors buy up every square inch and knock down historic bungalows and hotels and build high rises.

My rent doubled overnight after 8 years. The same address, with the same landlord, 8 years of keeping a clean, smoke and pet free house, fixing and making tiny improvements as if I owned the place because I have pride in my living space and taking care of things that don’t belong to me. I was facing a monthly bill I couldn’t possibly make on a $49k/yr teacher’s salary.

My question for years now and remains, what is going to happen to this city when all the artists, musicians, teachers, laborers, sanitation, and postal workers leave? It’s likely this will be my last year contributing to this city that i love, this city that I’ve served professionally year after year. I want to see it as a place for all. I don’t feel as welcome as wealthy investors and snowbirds looking to retire. And lots of us are, in fact, leaving.

Everyone knows millennials and teachers are struggling. We can’t afford to buy homes. I’m not stupid, but what am I missing? What is my solution? Get a new career? Get a third college degree (and more debt)? Or leave… St. Pete used to be “god’s waiting room.” Looks like the doctor is in again. Soon it will be all retired Boomers and Gen-Xers.

I’m very fortunate that I have amazing friends and family that all reached out to me. My new landlord felt sorry and gave me a much more reasonable affordable rate because I’m a teacher. I’ll be right across the street from the school. That’s where we’re at – teachers relying on pity. And I’m grateful.

It isn’t right or fair. Money isn’t everything. People matter. Our lives matter. Working class people need to stick together and push back everywhere.

“The center will not hold.”

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