Incoming New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress last week, but she is in no hurry to move to the nation’s capital.
“I don’t need to move to DC until work starts anyway, and I am really taking this time to relish the last couple of months that I have full time with my communities in the Bronx and Queens,” Ocasio-Cortez said Monday at a news conference held by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Reuters reported.
Ocasio-Cortez will join the House of Representatives in an historic cycle that saw more women of color run for office than ever before.
But as a prominent face of the insurgent left wing of the Democratic Party, Ocasio-Cortez has become a favorite target of conservative media.
In recent days their criticism of the new congresswoman has centered on a more parochial subject matter than most political dustups: her rent.
Watch: Ocasio-Cortez Choosing Not to Move to DC Until 2019 Anyway
Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview with the New York Times last week that forgoing a salary for the three month span between Election Day and the first day of the new Congress would be challenging, especially as she hunts for an apartment in Washington.
“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,” she said. “We’re kind of just dealing with the logistics of it day by day, but I’ve really been just kind of squirreling away and then hoping that gets me to January.”
Her frank admission to scraping by struck a chord, and that excerpt from the interview went viral. Supporters volunteered to offset her living expenses, but she urged them to direct the donations a charity in the 14th District. Celebrity chef José Andrés offered Ocasio-Cortez a place to stay.
Wisconsin Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, took note of Ocasio-Cortez’s concerns of the high cost of housing in D.C. and made her and her incoming colleagues an offer: “She and everyone is welcome to crash at my place.”
Fox News personalities discussed the interview too, and through chuckles, dismissed the disclosure as a calculated play.
“She’s talking about all of the money in Washington, all of the wealth in Washington, all of the power in Washington and a little person like her can’t find a place to live,” one Fox News host said. “It is a brilliant political line.”
But even some pundits on the panel acknowledged the high cost of living in the nation’s capital.
Nearly half of renters in Washington spend more than a third of their income on housing, and a quarter of renters allocate more than half of their paychecks to their landlord, according to data from the Census American Community Survey.