Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D–Mass.) wants to cancel the rent. She also is the owner of a rental property from which she and her husband have received tens of thousands of dollars in income.
On Monday, the Washington Free Beacon—relying on tax and financial disclosure records—reported that Pressley and her husband purchased a Boston property for $615,000 in 2019, and rented out one of its units for $2,500 a month. That same year, the Free Beacon reports, Pressley reported $15,000 in rental income.
It's unclear when or if Pressley stopped renting out the property. Regardless, it raises interesting questions about her two-time sponsorship of the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act.
The latest version of the bill—written by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D–Minn.), and co-sponsored by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) and Rashida Talib (D–Mich.)—would forgive renters' and homebuyers' obligations to pay rent or a mortgage from March 2020 through April 2022.
People couldn't be evicted or foreclosed on for failure to pay for their housing during that period. Unlike the existing federal eviction moratorium, renters would also be released of any obligation to pay back-rent. The legislation went nowhere when it was first introduced in April 2020. Omar reintroduced the proposal again in March of this year.
Pressley's support of this bill while also being a landlord would seem to cut across her class interests.
The Free Beacon does note that the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act creates a fund to compensate landlords for lost rental income. If she remains a landlord, Pressley could avail herself of that aid if she agreed to a five-year rent freeze, to not bar tenants with criminal convictions (a potentially concerning condition given that Pressley's rental property also contains her primary residence), and a requirement to only evict tenants for "just cause."
The Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act would also require Pressley to notify federal housing regulators if she puts her property on the market. The law would give public housing agencies, nonprofits, and state and local government bodies first dibs on buying it.
Pressley, in a press release, said that passing the Rent and Mortgage Cancelation Act "help move us towards an America where no person has to choose between putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their head."
Does Pressley also think that her own receipt of rental income has taken food out of her tenant's mouth? Perhaps her congressional salary liberates her having to rely on any rental income. Unfortunately, many small-time landlords are not in such a fortunate position.
The Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services in March. The previous year's version of the bill was referred to the same committee but never received a vote.