One year ago, you could find Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez working behind the bar at Flats Fix, a small taqueria near Union Square. Come January, you will find her in Washington D.C., representing New York’s 14th District as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
But just because she is making history, doesn’t mean she is making money. Ocasio-Cortez recently revealed that she is currently unable to rent a D.C. apartment.
Her transition period will be “very unusual, because I can’t really take a salary,” she said in an interview with The New York Times. “I have three months without a salary before I’m a member of Congress. So, how do I get an apartment? Those little things are very real.”
According to real-estate website Zillow, the median rent in Washington, D.C., is $2,700.
The situation in Ocasio-Cortez’s district is a reality for Americans across the country. One Harvard housing report found that over 38 million American households can’t afford their housing, an increase of 146 percent since 2001.
According to Ocasio-Cortez, her experiences as a member of the working class are what makes her best-suited to represent her constituents.
“Many members of Congress were born into wealth, or they grew up around it,” Ocasio-Cortez tells Bon Appetit. “How can you legislate a better life for working people if you’ve never been a working person? Try living with the anxiety of not having health insurance for three years when your tooth starts to hurt. It’s this existential dread. I have that perspective. I feel like I understand what’s happening electorally because I have experienced it myself.”
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