For members of Congress who are not wealthy, and there are fewer and fewer of those these days, finding an affordable place to stay in Washington is a challenge. Being a member of Congress pays well, $174,000 a year. But you must have two homes: One in DC for work and one back in your district where the law requires you to maintain a residence. It gets to be expensive.
So, this is the story of how one senator went from living in a very modest apartment and then moved to public housing.
In 2005 the new junior senator from Illinois rented a small, one-bedroom apartment in the above building near Stanton Park on Capitol Hill. It was close to his office so he could walk to work and the monthly rent was $1,200. It had an old bathroom, a tiny kitchen with a half stove, and by his own admission “a vintage, college-dorm, pizza, empty bottle feel to it.” When his wife came to town, she refused to sleep here.
In an attempt to find a nicer place to live that would cost less, the senator decides to run for president. When he becomes a real contender in the race, the Secret Service asked that he leave his apartment and move to a hotel where he would be safer. He acquiesces. Barack Obama wins the election and moves to the White House. Housing problem solved.
And the apartment? Well, its lease was passed down to young campaign workers and White House staffers. And you can see it for yourself on my Hidden on the Hill tour