Rangel responds to housing accusations

July 11, 2008 10:36:12 AM PDT
Rep. Charles Rangel responded Friday to a newspaper report that he has four rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem, saying that he does not "see anything unfair" about the arrangement. Rangel said at a news conference Friday that he pays the maximum legal rent for his apartments and he has received no special treatment from the landlord. The New York Times revealed the congressman's living situation in its Friday editions, noting that the city is experiencing a chronic shortage of low- and moderate-income housing.

"I don't see anything unfair about it, and I didn't even know it was a deal," said Rangel, who lives in three combined apartments.

Housing experts told the newspaper that it is not illegal to acquire more than one rent-stabilized apartment, but knew of no one else with four of them. The city's rent-stabilization regulations allow tenants to renew leases if they use their unit as a primary residence, paying annual increases set by a city board.

Rangel said he would look into whether there were any legal concerns with his keeping the fourth apartment as an office - but said that he keeps a Murphy bed there and stops at the unit first-thing after returning late from Washington.

The congressman pays about half the market rate for three adjacent units at the luxury Lenox Terrace complex, while the fourth apartment is several floors below, the Times reported.

Rangel's monthly rent last year for all four units was $3,893, the paper said. The market rate would total about $7,500. Rangel's net worth is $566,000 to $1.2 million, the Times said, citing congressional disclosure records.

Rangel chastised the newspaper, saying: "It is none of The New York Times' business where I decide to live. ... Nor is it The New York Times' business how much space I think I need."

He said he does not live in a penthouse apartment, and that when he arrived in the Harlem building decades ago, two of the three main apartments had already been combined.

Rangel said he was proud to have lived in two locations for his entire life. The first was the apartment where he was raised, just a few blocks away.

Lenox Terrace is owned by the Olnick Organization, a family-owned company that built the complex in 1958 as Harlem's first luxury apartments. The company declined to comment for the Times on why it allowed Rangel to lease four rent-stabilized apartments.


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