Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says She Can't Afford to Move to D.C. Without a Congressional Salary

After becoming the youngest woman ever elected to Congress on Tuesday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had a very real concern: how she was going to pay rent in Washington, D.C.

Before beginning her campaign as a democratic socialist running for the House of Representatives, the New York City native — who turned 29 last month — worked as a bartender at a taqueria in N.Y.C. She told the New York Times that while she saved money from that job and planned ahead with her partner, she was still admittedly concerned about finding housing, since during the transition, her salary won’t kick in for three months.

“I have three months without a salary before I’m a member of Congress,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “So, how do I get an apartment? Those little things are very real.”

“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,” she added.

She also told the Times she would be skipping a popular post-election meeting in Puerto Rico, which many democratic leaders attend, because it conflicts with an orientation for new Congress members. And, quite frankly, she said: “I need a minute.”

Ocasio-Cortez doubled down on Twitter, but told her supporters not to worry about her rent situation, writing, “There are many little ways in which our electoral system isn’t even designed (nor prepared) for working-class people to lead. This is one of them (don’t worry btw – we’re working it out!)”

According to a market trend report from Rent Cafe, the median rent for apartments in Washington, D.C. is $2,072 per month, with the average studio costing $1,642 and a one-bedroom averaging $1,996. Once she is instated, Ocasio-Cortez will make $174,000 a year as a member of Congress, according to NBC Washington.

Ocasio-Cortez won her district with 78 percent of the vote, defeating her Republican opponent Anthony Pappas. During her victory party on Tuesday, the Latina progressive told her supporters that “we didn’t launch this campaign because I thought I was special or unique or better than anyone else. We launched this campaign because in the absence of anyone giving a clear voice on the moral issues of our time, then it is up to us to voice them.”

She continued, “I think about oftentimes that incredible day on June 26, when — despite no attention, despite no media fanfare … we were able to organize everyday people knocking on our neighbor’s door and despite being outspent $4 million … despite the fact that I’m working class … despite all those things, we won.”

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