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First Gen Z Congressman’s Experience Shows the Predatory Housing Market Has No Limits

Yet another thing rich people don't have to worry about.

Maxwell Frost speaking. Image: Maxwell Frost website.

In school, most Americans are taught that our government was created to be accessible to all citizens. There is this ever-present illusion that anyone can become president if they just try hard enough. However, reality paints a much different picture. It seems like the key to gaining office is not so much your commitment, but the size of your bank account.

It costs money to run for office (lots of money), especially for a federal-level position. If you don’t personally have the money, you have to fundraiser like your election depends on it (because it does). Money enables a candidate to run advertising campaigns so voters know who they are. Newly elected Maxwell Alejandro Frost showed how election finances can be a problem even after you win your campaign, since now that he’s been elected, he cannot find a place to live.

No Money, More Problems

Frost made headlines by becoming the first Generation Z congressman to be elected to the House of Representatives. At 25, Frost is now the official representative for Florida’s 10th congressional district. In a tweet, Frost attributed his victory to working on his campaign days a week and for 10-12 hours a day. To campaign like that, Frost had to quit his day job and worked as an Uber driver to pay for his living expenses. Even with extensive fundraising, the campaign pushed Frost into debt.

Now that Frost has been elected, he must make plans to move to Washington D.C. but his campaign debt seems to be preventing that from happening. Frost tweeted that he had applied for an apartment and told the landlord about his bad credit score from running for office. The landlord assured him there would be no issues so Frost applied and paid the application fee. He was later denied because of his credit score and wasn’t refunded the application fee. As Frost put it “This ain’t meant for people who don’t already have money.”

If an elected official of the federal government is having trouble renting, what hope do the rest of us have? Frost’s experience is almost universal if you are from the working class or part of the low-income population. Bad credit scores can develop for myriad reasons, not just mismanaging your money as lots of Republicans like to think. If you are working a low-wage job and any emergency happens, things will have to go on your credit card, or else you might be out of a car or electricity. Bad credit scores can also come from not having any debt at all, like never having a credit card or bank account in your name. But many who rent out properties base who they rent to almost exclusively on an applicant’s credit score.

Then there is the whole “application fee” scam. Depending on where you apply to rent, these fees can run $25-$75 per applicant. Just trying to rent at several different properties can become an expensive venture. If you are living paycheck to paycheck or in debt, coming up with these extra fees because a financial burden and limits where you can even attempt to live. Most of the justification for these fees is to cover the landlord’s cost of running a credit check. There are several places to get free credit checks, especially if applicants run the check for themselves. Credit checks are not a federally mandated rule of renting, which makes the entire process look like an extra way for landlords to get money from people they may not even rent to. If this isn’t an exploitative practice, I’m not sure what is.

(featured image: frostforcongress.com)

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D.R. Medlen is secretly a selkie that will one day return to the sea. In the meantime, she spends her days fangirling over anything from comic books to folklore podcasts, and everything in between. She lives that hobbitcore life while teaching her offspring the ways of the nerd.