Raphael Warnock Buys Million-Dollar Townhouse As His Church’s Tenants Live In Squalor

Warnock received a tax-free $7,417 monthly housing allowance from his church in his last term

(Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)
January 23, 2023

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D., Ga.), who received a lucrative monthly housing allowance from his church during his first term in the Senate, will soon reside in a luxurious Capitol Hill townhouse as tenants of his ministry’s low-income apartment building continue to live in squalor.

At first glance, the $1,149,000 Washington, D.C., townhouse that Warnock purchased on Jan. 4 appears to be outside his means. The Georgia Democrat took out a $549,000 loan on the property, real estate records show, indicating Warnock put down a massive $600,000 down payment on the home. Warnock owned assets valued between $654,000 and $1,353,000 at the end of 2021, the bulk of which was tied up in his church’s pension plan. He also owed up to $600,000 on his Atlanta home in 2021, according to his latest available financial disclosures.

Fortunately for Warnock, he was also the beneficiary of a tax-free, $7,417 monthly housing allowance in 2021 from Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he continues to preach on occasion. The church also owns a pest-infected subsidized apartment building in Atlanta that moved to evict residents during the pandemic for as little as $28.55 in past-due rent, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

Ebenezer Baptist Church structured Warnock's housing allowance as an employment benefit so that he could bypass the Senate’s $29,595 outside income limitation in 2021. It’s not known at this time if the church helped finance Warnock’s new Capitol Hill townhouse. Ebenezer did not return a request for comment.

Warnock’s new home is situated less than two miles away from the Capitol and comes equipped with a brand-new gourmet kitchen, a wine refrigerator, and a private backyard patio. The four-bedroom, four-bathroom home provides the "rare opportunity to experience a life of leisure and comfort," a listing for the property boasts.

The townhouse also comes with a separate basement unit cordoned off with its own living area, bedroom, and bathroom. The Free Beacon inquired how much Warnock will rent his basement unit for. The senator’s office did not respond.

Warnock’s financial ties to the church and its low-income apartment became a sticking point for the Democrat during his reelection campaign in 2022. Warnock claimed during a debate with Republican challenger Herschel Walker that there had been no evictions from the building, but court records showed otherwise. Fulton County marshals carried out two court-ordered evictions on residents at the church’s property during the pandemic, one in August 2020 and the other in February 2022.

Warnock’s church owns 99 percent of the Columbia Tower apartment building in Atlanta through a network of shell companies linked to a charity that identifies the senator as its principal officer. The church tapped Columbia Residential, one of the nation’s leading eviction-filers, to manage the property on its behalf. The building is plagued by pests, maintenance problems, and filth, residents told the Free Beacon.

Columbia Residential dropped its eviction cases against five of the building’s residents a few days before Warnock’s runoff election in December, but only after the Free Beacon reported that it had been trying to evict a Vietnam War veteran who had already paid his back rent.