The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Maxwell Frost, future Gen Z congressman, denied D.C. apartment over bad credit

Rep.-elect Maxwell Frost was turned down for a Washington apartment because of a low credit score. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)

Rep.-elect Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), the first member of the Gen Z generation elected to Congress, said Thursday that a company in Washington rejected his application to rent an apartment because of his bad credit score.

Frost declined to identify the building, the size of debt or credit score, but said the building where his application was rejected was in the Navy Yard neighborhood, which is just over a mile from the U.S. Capitol.

“I was excited because I had finally found a place that made sense for me, that was in my price range,” Frost said in an interview. Before applying, he said he disclosed “that my credit was bad. I told the guy my whole situation and he said ‘Apply, you’re going to be fine.’ ”

Frost said he paid a $50 application fee and submitted his information. After the rejection — and the loss of the fee — Frost said he was “told there really is nothing I can do. It’s just unfortunate. They said you can call and dispute the result, but I said I don’t know what I’d be disputing. I have a bad credit — I admit it.”

Frost, 25, famously drove an Uber to pay his bills while campaigning full time in his central Florida district. He has quickly become a potent force within the Democratic Party, hitting the campaign trail in neighboring Georgia this past week to help Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D) win his runoff election on Tuesday.

In true Gen. Z fashion, Frost first aired his housing woes on social media.

“Honestly I just posted it because I was pretty angry about what had happened,” he told The Washington Post. His message on Twitter quickly generated thousands of responses, including some from Republican critics that Frost argued were hypocritical, considering former president Donald Trump’s multiple bankruptcies.

The median rent for a studio apartment in Washington is $2,600, compared with $1,646 in Orlando, which is in the district Frost will represent, according to Zillow.com.

Lawmakers struggling to find housing in the nation’s capital is a story as old as the congressman-elect.

In 2000, another young, newly elected House member from Florida was shocked to find a tight and expensive housing market in the nation’s capital. “It’s been a rather shocking experience, to see what the housing market is like,” Adam H. Putnam (R-Fla.) told The Post at the time. “It’s just a totally different ballgame from anything I’ve ever seen.”

Putnam, who was 26, said he and his wife visited more than a dozen places during freshman orientation, and understood why some lawmakers had chosen to sleep in their offices. Another new member of the House at the time, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), said she found a large one-bedroom near the Library of Congress for around $1,500 a month. She said it was “a lot; my house payment in Minnesota is less than that.”

In 2018, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) voiced similar concerns. She had worked as a bartender before leaving that job to campaign full time. In November, at age 29, she was the youngest woman elected to the House, but she would not start collecting a salary until the following January.

“I have three months without a salary before I’m a member of Congress,” she told the New York Times. “So, how do I get an apartment? Those little things are very real.”

Frost said he had spoken with Ocasio-Cortez about the housing challenges they experienced, which a number of their colleagues in elected office might not have gone though.

“A lot of the members who come into the Congress don’t have these issues when they move, because they already have money,” Frost said.

One real estate agent contacted by The Post said December is typically very slow for real estate transactions, which can make finding available units challenging.

As of Thursday, there were 30 one-bedroom and studio apartments available for rent in the 20003 Zip code that generally covers the Navy Yard neighborhood, according to this agent, citing information from the Multiple Listing Service, a database that feeds popular housing sites like Redfin, though some apartments may be advertised publicly without being listed there.

The median rent in those units was $2,373; the only unit rented in the past 30 days went into contract just after Thanksgiving and had been available for more than a month, this agent said. The rent on that apartment was $1,700.

For now, Frost said, “I’m probably going to have to look at individual landlords, and mom-and-pop kind of shops as far as apartments are concerned. But also, I just might need to do some couch surfing or staying with somebody a little while I figure it out, or AIRBNB.”

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