"The rent is too damn high," reads a prompt on Seattle mayoral candidate Andrew Grant Houston's campaign website — and he means that literally.
According to a new report from conservative talk radio host Jason Rantz, the "queer" mayoral candidate — who also wants to raise the minimum wage to $23 an hour — has not paid rent since near the start of the pandemic and now owes the apartment complex where he is staying more than $20,000.
The aspiring politician, nicknamed "Ace," is apparently one of many tenants taking advantage of nationwide eviction moratoriums put in place to shield renters from being kicked out of their homes during the pandemic-related economic crisis.
In April, the property management company that owns the $1,695-a-month Capitol Hill apartment that Houston rents emailed the candidate to check in on his payment plans.
"I understand you are running for mayor and on Teresa Mosqueda's staff," the email reportedly read. "Our office recently received an inquiry from the press about the status of your rent balance. Before responding to them, we'd like to understand if you have any plans to get current on your outstanding balance of $14,485."
Rantz reported that the property management company now claims Houston's debt has ballooned to $20,828.
It's unclear at this point whether Houston has plans to pay any of the rent money owed. But due to the eviction moratorium, the property management company is unable to kick him out of the apartment until the policy expires, which isn't until August.
In a statement to KTTH, Houston's team attempted to turn the issue into a campaign pitch showing how he is one with the people.
"Ace is one of an estimated 200,000 Washingtonians behind on their rents, in totals over $1 billion," the campaign's communications director, Dylan Austin, told the radio outlet. "Ace is the only candidate in this race who doesn't own a home, and who has a stark contrast in personal wealth as compared to every other leading candidate (some in the millions)."
"Ace has the same lived experience of many Seattleites who struggled before (and struggle now) in a pandemic to keep up with soaring rent prices and affordability issues in our city," he added.
Not so ironically, one of Houston's major campaign issues happens to be "housing justice," or more specifically, "rent control." On his campaign website, Houston proposes "limit[ing] rental and commercial increases to 'inflation plus 2%' or 4%, whichever is higher."
Before running for mayor, Houston operated an architecture practice in the city and also served as interim policy manager in Seattle councilmember Teresa Mosqueda's office.
Andrew Grant Houston, candidate for City of Seattle Mayor - Video Voters' Guide 2021 Primary youtu.be