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AOC living in luxury DC apartment: No poor people allowed

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 2/20/2019 Alana Goodman
a woman standing in front of a building talking on a cell phone © Provided by MediaDC: Washington Newspaper Publishing Company, Inc.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., recently moved into a luxury apartment complex in Washington, D.C. that does not offer the affordable housing units that were a key plank in the New York congresswoman’s campaign platform.

Ocasio-Cortez, 29, who said in November that she was concerned about being able to afford rent in D.C., now earns a $174,000 annual salary and is living in a newly built high-rise in the city’s Navy Yard area, it was reported last week.

The freshman congresswoman, a self-described socialist, campaigned on a platform to expand affordable housing, and her controversial Green New Deal proposal promises “Safe, affordable, adequate housing” for all.

But Ocasio-Cortez’s new building — built by leading D.C. developer WC Smith — is part of a luxury complex whose owners specifically do not offer affordable units under Washington, D.C.’s Affordable Dwelling Units program. The Washington Examiner is not naming the building or complex.

In 2018, a civil rights attorney sued the Washington, D.C. government for allegedly discriminatory gentrification policies, claiming that development in Navy Yard area and other parts of southeast D.C. encouraged an influx of affluent “millennial creatives” who displaced minority residents.

Ocasio-Cortez, commonly referred to as "AOC," repeatedly criticized luxury real estate developers during her campaign, claiming that their buildings hiked up rent prices and pushed low-income residents out of their neighborhoods.

“We need to kick luxury real estate lobbyists to the curb and defend working people’s way of life,” Ocasio-Cortez said last March. “Skyrocketing cost of living is a national crisis that CAN be addressed. It’s not just an NYC issue - it’s happening in every US metro area.”

Ocasio-Cortez also promised not to take campaign contributions from luxury developers during her campaign. “It’s time we stand up to the luxury developer lobby,” she said in a speech last April. “Every official is too scared to do it - except me.”

Her new apartment complex — which boasts on its website that it “promises to take luxury apartment living to a new level” — offers over 100,000 square feet of amenities for its residents.

These include: two private massage rooms with state-of-the-art hydrotherapy beds; men’s and women’s saunas; a full-scale demonstration kitchen with wood-fired pizza oven; a 25-meter indoor lap pool; a rooftop infinity pool with panoramic views of the Capitol; a Peloton cycling studio with over a dozen bikes; and a fireside lounge featuring a Steinway & Sons player piano.

Also included is a PGA-grade golf simulation lounge with a wrap-around screen and viewing bar that allows residents to play virtually at dozens of the world’s most exclusive golf courses with the touch of a button. Last week, Democrats mocked President Trump for installing a new golf simulator at the White House — updating with his own money one originally installed by former President Barack Obama.

Apartments in the building currently start at $1,840 per month for a 440 square foot studio, and range up to $5,200 for a three-bedroom. The average rent in Washington D.C. is $1,340 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,550 for a two-bedroom, according to the most recent data from Apartment List.

W. Christopher Smith, 66, the Annapolis-based CEO of WC Smith, is a Democratic donor who contributed to Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and the Senate campaigns of Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-M.D., Sen. Mark Warner, D-VA., and Jane Raybould, who lost a 2018 Senate race in Nebraska.

Smith donated to Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., in 2017, and 11 employees of WC Smith gave $6,900 to the campaign of Muriel Bower, the Democratic mayor of D.C. In 2018, WC Smith's vice-president of communications Ann-Marie Bairstow gave over $1300 to Act Blue earmarked in small amounts — $100 or less — for various candidates, including $50 to Ocasio-Cortez.

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