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Should Members of Congress Receive a Housing Stipend?

by Nena Perry-Brown

Last summer, former Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) waxed poetic about the idea of offering members of Congress a $2,500 monthly housing stipend to ensure they can afford to live in what he called "one of the most expensive places in the world.” Now, some members of Congress' incoming class of legislators may be wishing that proposal had made it to the federal budget.

Following the election of New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever voted into the House of Representatives, several outlets reported on her inability, on a bartender's income, to rent an apartment in DC before her Congressional salary kicks in next year. 

While the annual salary for members of Congress is $174,000, some members are known to sleep on cots in their offices rather than rent a second household while Congress is in session, often flying back to their home states regularly. The conversation around this issue compelled Rory Cooper, former employee of once-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, to suggest dormitory-style residences for Congressmembers. "We shouldn't want a Congress filled only by wealthy people that can afford it," he tweeted out last week. 

Washington Post op-ed published this weekend elaborated on the idea of dorm housing, which could charge residents a monthly rent of $500, while also lamenting how Congressional staffer salaries have failed to stay competitive enough to retain talent.

While Congressional dormitories and a $2,500 monthly housing stipend may not make it through to the next budget, the nationwide housing crisis has gotten increased political attention this year, so a bipartisan approach to the issue could make it to the table.

See other articles related to: renting in dc, congress, affordable housing dc, affordability

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/should-members-of-congress-receive-a-housing-stipend/14730

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