State Representative Chuck Rangel is not the first un-poor person to get busted living in a rent-stabilized apartment — but he may be the first to get caught living in four of them. On the tenth floor of the Lenox Terrace in Harlem (where David Paterson also has a rent-stabilized place) the congressman (whose net worth the Times estimates at $566,000 to $1.2 million) keeps a studio apartment for use as an office, for which he pays $660 a month. Then on the sixteenth floor, he has combined a studio ($630), a one-bedroom ($1,329), and a two-bedroom ($1,329) into rather opulent spread that overlooks Manhattan. Quoth the Times:
Mr. Rangel’s residence, which has custom moldings and dramatic archways, is decorated with Benin Bronze statues and antique carved walnut Italian chairs, and was featured in the 2003 book “Style and Grace: African Americans at Home,” by Michael Henry Adams (Bulfinch Press)… Mr. Rangel’s wife, Alma, is quoted describing the congressman as “the shopper in this family” who has a penchant for hunting down antiques like cut-glass champagne flutes and walnut chests to furnish their elegant abode.
He also owns a villa in the Dominican Republic as well as a few other properties in New York and Florida. Awkward. The 78-year-old chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee declined to speak to the Times when they called for comment. “Why should I help you embarrass me?” he said, before abruptly hanging up. Well, touché, we suppose.
UPDATE: Rangel had a press conference today to defend his family's occupation of the four rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem's Lenox Terrace, and things got pretty heated. "It's none of the New York Times business where I live," where he lived.
When a Times reporter, David Kocieniewski, pressed Mr. Rangel on the issue of fairness, the congressman declined to answer, saying, “I have decided unilaterally that you have asked more than your share.” He added, when Mr. Kocieniewski tried to press him, “Hell no, I’m not going to respond to you.”
City Room has the full, and entirely entertaining, report.