ST.PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Voters in St. Petersburg won’t see the issue of rent control on the ballot this fall.

After hours of public comment Thursday, the city council voted against a resolution declaring a housing emergency and putting rent control on the November ballot.

It’s an emotional topic for many people living in St. Petersburg.

“I’m about to lose my house,” one concerned tenant told the council.

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Dozens of others spoke at the meeting, saying they can’t afford the 20% rent increase the area has seen over the past year.

Evelyn Long is among those outraged by council’s decision.

“This is life or death. This is do or die for us,” Long told 8 On Your Side. “Our options are homelessness, displacement or death.”

“It would be incredibly difficult to create a rent control situation that would not draw a class action lawsuit,” Council Chair Gina Driscoll said.

The chairwoman said the city is looking at other legal ways to create more affordable housing, and said she will talk with the administration about strengthening assistance provided to renters.

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“Today should be giving us more of a sense of urgency to create better rental assistance from people who are facing evictions and massive rent increases right now,” Driscoll said.

Renters who spent the night sleeping outside city hall vowed to continue their fight.

“All these people are explaining that they’re suffering, they’re disabled, they’re living in poverty, they’re taking care of children, they’re working in St. Pete, and to vote that down after such an emotional testimony—I just don’t know how you could do that in good conscience,” said Long.

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