Thursday, July 10, 2008

Rangel's Housing Glut

At a time when his fellow Democrats are busy complaining about the lack of affordable housing, Charlie Rangel has managed to take advantage of not one, but four units of rent stabilized housing in Harlem. Something is quite amiss that no one bothered to catch on to this situation for years.
According to a public records database and interviews with neighbors, he has lived in the building since the early 1970s, but it is not clear when he amassed the four units.

Mr. Rangel, 78, declined to answer questions during a telephone interview, saying that his housing was a private matter that did not affect his representation of his constituents.

“Why should I help you embarrass me?” he said, before abruptly hanging up.

Olnick officials declined to discuss when or why they decided to permit Mr. Rangel to lease multiple rent-stabilized units. Asked why he had been allowed to use one as an office, Jeanette Bocchino, a spokeswoman for the company, replied: “This is a private matter for the Olnick Organization and Mr. Rangel to evaluate.”
The purpose of affordable housing was to help low and moderate income individuals obtain housing in areas where rents were unaffordable.

Rangel's managed to a tidy bank account over the years and has saved a bundle by living in this affordable housing, has taken advantage of the system.

How many other worthy residents in New York City lost out on an affordable place to live because Rangel decided to take more than his fair share.

Of course, that's not how Rangel sees things. He considers this all part of his cost of doing business and sees nothing wrong with living and working (which is a violation of the rent stabilization statutes as one unit is being used as his office) in these units. Considering that for 2007, he paid $3,894 per month when the current market rate rent for similar units would total anywhere from $7,465 to $8,125 a month, Rangel has gotten himself quite a deal. He's saving tens of thousands of dollars every year.

It's a nice gig if you can get it.

UPDATE 7/11/2008:
If you're wondering how and why this story came out, consider who Rangel came out supporting for the Presidential race. It wasn't the Junior Senator from New York, but instead the Junior Senator from Illinois. Consider this payback? I wouldn't put it past Hillary one bit.

The thing is Rangel deserves all the criticism regardless of why the New York Times decided to run with this story now. I'm just wondering why no one thought to look into this matter years ago as Rangel was accruing all those apartments and turning one of them into an illegal campaign office violating the law in the process.

Rangel had supported Hillary. Mistake corrected above.

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