Housing is a human right!


Dear Editor:

No human being should ever have to worry about not having​a place to sleep at night, and yet this is the reality for so many people in our city.​

This is the consequence of the failed policies of the past and current administrations.

As of March of this year, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in St. Petersburg jumped 15.4 percent since the same time last year. Black renters pay an average of 54 percent of their income and Latinos 43.3 percent compared to 34.2 percent for whites.

The legacy of gentrification and big development is personified by both of the corrupt political hacks vying for another four years in the mayor’s seat. I’m referring to Kriseman and Baker, my opponents.

We have seen the expansion of gentrification that began with the “Baker plan,” which extended “downtown St Pete” from the waterfront all the way to 34th Street, renaming the traditionally black south side as “Midtown” as a rebranding effort to pave the way for rich white investors.

It was under Baker that we saw the decimation of Bartlett Park and the invasion of gentrifying real estate speculators into that neighborhood, causing such devastating effects on the black community that it was profiled as a case study in the Urban Institute’s Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center in their 2006 piece on gentrification and displacement.

It is the legacy of development at the expense of the people that I am to uproot and overhaul when I am elected mayor, along with Eritha Akile Cainion as our next city councilwoman for District 6.

We need to build genuinely affordable housing, not continue on the path towards gentrification. We need to prioritize economic development and reparations to the black community as opposed to the negative public policies of police containment that always come hand in hand with economic policies of gentrification.

When questioned about affordable housing at a FAST meeting earlier this year, Kriseman cynically used the issue of updating the sewer system as a poor excuse for opposing the people’s demand for affordable housing.

A genuinely progressive mayor would say that solving the sewage crisis and ensuring that every person in this city has a place to live are not mutually exclusive priorities.

The Kriseman regime has overrun St. Petersburg with a glut of high-rise condominiums in an attempt to attract upscale investors at the expense of our communities.

This has also increased the waste generated on an already strained sewage infrastructure!

When I am elected mayor and Eritha Akile Cainion is elected as city councilwoman of District 6, we will allocate resources toward securing the right of black and low-income homeowners to stay in their houses and improve them.

We will institute rent control measures to make currently existing housing affordable.

We will create community-controlled zoning boards in low-income areas to prevent gentrification from displacing those communities.

Every person in St. Petersburg has the right to affordable housing. The city’s budget priorities must reflect an unwavering commitment to this principle. There can be no excuses and no compromises on this.

When unity through reparations and economic development for the black community are centered in our city’s economic vision, every issue can be solved, including the sewer system and the lack of affordable housing.

A unified city would not isolate each issue as separate, competing issues, but as components of a holistic plan to move our city forward economically, socially and environmentally so that all of its residents have access to housing, clean water, economic development and prosperity.

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