Politics

Ayanna Pressley, ‘cancel rent’ advocate, criticized after disclosing thousands of dollars in rental income

Pressley, a Massachusetts Representative, has been a leading voice calling for the cancellation of rent amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a December 2020 tweet, Pressley wrote, “We must cancel rent, extend eviction and foreclosure moratoriums, provide rental assistance, and offer legal representation for those at risk of eviction.” However, despite strongly advocating for rent cancellation, she still reported income from having a rental property.

Pressley’s 2020 financial disclosure noted she and her husband made between $5,000 and $15,000 in rental income on a property in Boston in her husband’s name. Evidently, as the disclosure states, the property was converted into a multi-family apartment after its purchase (Fox News).  

Pressley introduced a bill in March 2021 that would have canceled rent and mortgage payments while requiring the federal government to reimburse landlords for unpaid rent during the pandemic. She said, “With the economic impact of this pandemic worsening and the threat of eviction and homelessness looming large for families nationwide, we must take every measure possible to keep families safely housed, forgive all rental debt, and ensure that the credit scores of hard hit families are not forever tarnished.”

Pressley co-sponsored Rep. Ilhan Omar’s, D-M.N., similar bill in April 2020 along with fellow “Squad” Representatives – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rashida Tlaib, D-M.I. Like Pressley, Tlaib reported rental income. Her financial disclosure, filed on Friday, noted between $15,001 and $50,000 in rental income from a Detroit property.  

Earlier this month, President Biden extended the national eviction moratorium, which will remain in effect through October 3; the two-month moratorium, like the previous one, comes from the CDC and covers parts of the U.S. experiencing “substantial” and “high” spread of the coronavirus (NPR).

Due to the rise of the delta variant, a majority of U.S. counties fall under those categories. The CDC’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said, “Where we are right now with such high disease rates, we felt a new, tailored order [was needed] to make sure that … working Americans who were at risk of eviction could be stably housed during this really tenuous, challenging period of time.”

Julio Gonzalez, who is the CEO and founder of Engineered Tax Services and owner of 24 rental properties, spoke with Business Insider about the difficulties landlords are facing as a result of the moratorium.

“The moratoriums have led to a significant and negative effect in profitability – for me, it’s been a 15% loss in profit. Residents not paying rent essentially leads to free living, while landlords still have to pay for taxes, utilities, and more.” He continued, “As a landlord, you can’t pay bills, it’s affecting credit, you’re losing property, and now you’re going to lose everything.”

ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: BOSTON GLOBE

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