Democratic congresswoman Suzan DelBene (Wash.) has bemoaned rising rents and built a reputation as an advocate of federal housing subsidies. But the newly minted chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has also turned a tidy profit on a low-income apartment building subsidized by the same policies she supports in Washington.
DelBene, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, holds a stake in a Seattle apartment building that receives an annual $1,065,246 Low Income Housing Tax Credit, part of a federal program she has championed in Congress. The building has upped its rents by at least 55 percent since DelBene invested in the property in 2014, and the value of her investment in the property has since risen in-kind by a factor of at least two, according to her financial disclosure statements.
The Washington State lawmaker isn’t the first progressive in Congress to reap profits from a low-income apartment building. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D., Ga.) was hammered during his reelection bid in 2022 following a Washington Free Beacon report that revealed his church owns an apartment complex in Atlanta that moved to evict residents during the pandemic for as little as $28.55 in unpaid rent.
DelBene holds her stake in the Balfour Place Apartments through Balfour Place Investors, an LLC she has disclosed in each of her financial disclosures filed since 2014 as a "co-investment in multi-family housing building located in Seattle, Washington." An attorney representing Balfour Place Investors and two other business entities identified DelBene’s LLC as one of the owners of the apartment building in a June 2016 letter to a Seattle city planner. Seattle real estate records also identify the LLC as an owner of the building.
DelBene’s investment in the property has become substantially more valuable since 2014, when she valued her stake in Balfour Place Investors between $250,001 and $500,000. In 2021, her latest available financial disclosure, the value of her investment ballooned to between $1,000,001 and $5,000,000. She has also received between $80,000 and $265,000 in interest payments from the LLC since 2014, her financial disclosures show.
Seattle’s appraised value of the property has more than doubled in recent years, going from $22.7 million in 2014 to $54.2 million in 2022. The price to rent a room at Balfour Place has also risen substantially. Income-restricted studio apartments at the building started at $892 a month in 2014. That same room now runs for at least $1,379 a month.
All the while, DelBene has bemoaned rising rents across the country and has established herself as an outspoken champion of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. In November, DelBene led a group of 54 members of Congress urging House leadership to enact changes to the program to finance the construction and repair of 1.5 million affordable homes. She praised President Joe Biden in October for paying lip service to her proposal, but the measure was ultimately left out of the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill passed in December.
Unlike some of her far-left colleagues in the House, DelBene has not accused landlords of playing a role in hiking up rent prices. In fact, she called for diverting federal funds to support landlords during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
"With 1 in 5 renters struggling to keep up with their rent payments, we must do more to support renters & landlords," she tweeted in March 2021.
A spokesperson for DelBene defended the congresswoman's support of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, saying the initiative is designed to "incentivize private investment in affordable housing developments, which otherwise would not be financially viable."
'Congresswoman DelBene is a strong proponent of affordable housing and is the lead sponsor of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act that would create an estimated 66,000 additional affordable homes in Washington state (1.9 million nationally)," the spokesperson said. "There is strong bipartisan support for more affordable housing in Congress. In the most recent Congress, the legislation had 207 cosponsors."
DelBene's office did not answer specific questions about her investment in Balfour Place.