Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., has reportedly collected thousands of dollars from her own rental properties despite calling rent cancellation legislation “literally a matter of life and death.”
The progressive lawmaker and her husband earned as much as $15,000 in rental income in 2019 after purchasing a $658,000 Boston home, The Washington Free Beacon reported Monday.
Property records and financial disclosures indicated the income came during a four-month period. The location initially was listed for $2,500 monthly in June 2019, and the posting was removed that August.
In August 2020, the building was refinanced as a multifamily investment property, which required Pressley and her husband to maintain rent loss insurance.
The Free Beacon reached out to Pressley’s office and the congresswoman’s real estate agent to find out if rent was collected during the coronavirus pandemic but neither party responded.
Any rent waived during the pandemic could be recovered through a bill Pressley cosponsored with fellow “Squad” members Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.
The lawmakers introduced the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act in both 2020 and 2021. The bill would require the federal government to reimburse landlords for lost rent for the duration of the pandemic.
The legislation also uses taxpayer money to create a “landlord relief fund” that prioritizes landlords with “the fewest available amount of assets” – a clause that would benefit Pressley and other landlords with minor properties in receiving funds ahead of large real estate firms.
American families are forced to “choose between putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their head,” Pressley said while supporting the bill.
Financial disclosure showed Pressley and her husband, Conan Harris, earned about $400,000 in combined income in 2019.
The Boston home, in which Pressley lives, serves as both a primary residence and a rental property. The property’s deed, mortgage papers, and homestead declaration are in her husband’s name.
Although Pressley’s name is not listed on the documents, the congresswoman reported the 2019 rental income as her own and also listed the six-figure mortgage as her personal liability. However, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust Executive Director Kendra Arnold said that was the appropriate move.
“[Pressley] would have an interest in the property regardless,” Arnold told the Free Beacon. “A spousal designation on her financial disclosure wouldn’t be especially important for that type of investment.
“Same with the loan — even if she doesn’t own the property, she would still be responsible for the mortgage.”
The Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act also would help Ocasio-Cortez, for example. She lives in an upscale Washington, D.C. neighborhood where rent for a small studio exceeds $2,000 monthly.
Ocasio-Cortez lived in an exclusive apartment building during the begining of the COVID-19 pandemic. Amenities included a rooftop pool, rooftop dog park, Peloton cycling studio, private massage rooms with hydromassage beds, golf simulator, and racquetball court.
Those items could be subsidized by the federal government should the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act pass, the report says.
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