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‘Squad’ Member Expanded Her Rental Property Portfolio as She Pushed For Taxpayer-Funded Landlord Relief

Ayanna Pressley purchased new rental property months after she proposed creating a 'landlord relief fund'

Original "Squad" members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D., Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) / Getty Images
• August 16, 2022 4:59 am

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Massachusetts Democratic congresswoman and "Squad" member Ayanna Pressley quietly expanded her rental property portfolio just two months after she introduced a bill that would provide taxpayer-funded relief for landlords.

Pressley purchased her second rental property, a two-unit home in Boston's Mattapan neighborhood, for $340,000 in May 2021, according to property records and financial disclosures reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon. Just two months before the purchase, the Democrat—along with fellow Squad members Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.)—introduced a bill that would have created a "landlord relief fund" to reimburse landlords who lost rent payments from March 1, 2020 to April 1, 2022.

Pressley owned and operated at least four rental units during that time period, the Democrat's financial disclosures show. In addition to her Mattapan property, Pressley in 2019 purchased a $658,000 Boston home that she converted into a two-family building. That property brought Pressley up to $15,000 in rental income in 2020 and up to $100,000 in rental income in 2021, suggesting that the Democrat may have lost revenue during the pandemic, thus making her eligible for taxpayer-funded relief through her bill. The legislation specifically prioritizes landlords with "the fewest available amount of assets," making minor lessors such as Pressley more likely to receive funds.

Pressley, who did not return a request for comment, is not the only Democrat who pushed for federal landlord relief without acknowledging her status as a landlord. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.), who also cosponsored the Pressley-backed landlord relief bill, collected up to $50,000 in rent payments in 2020, her financial disclosures show. Pennsylvania Reps. Matt Cartwright (D.) and Susan Wild (D.), meanwhile, collected up to $130,000 in combined rental income in 2020 as they called for taxpayer-funded assistance for landlords.

Both Tlaib and Pressley publicly criticized landlords even as they raked in rental income. Tlaib in December 2020 stressed the need to protect Americans from "landlords and bill collectors in the midst of a pandemic," while Pressley has called rent cancellation legislation "literally a matter of life and death" and argued that rental payments force families to "choose between putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their head." Between her two properties, Pressley collected up to $132,500 in rental income in 2020 and 2021, according to her financial disclosures.

Beyond the Pressley-backed bill's "landlord relief fund," the legislation also would have suspended rent and mortgage payments through April 2022. That provision did not include limits on income or payment size, meaning the bill would have effectively forced taxpayers to foot the bill for every American's rent or mortgage.

While Pressley has largely ceased her calls to cancel rent and subsidize landlords, the Democrat is now using the burden of rent payments to argue that President Joe Biden should cancel student debt. Some of her top allies in Congress who support such a move hold student debt of their own—Omar, for example, acknowledged during an April rally that she still has outstanding loans. The fellow "Squad" member has repeatedly called on Biden to cancel all student debt.