November 22nd, 2008
02:09 AM ET
7 years ago

Congressman to camp out in Capitol

Freshman lawmakers struggle to find affordable housing.

Freshman lawmakers struggle to find affordable housing.

(CNN) - Newly-minted Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz, like many freshman members of Congress, is trying to get settled in before the new session begins. That means quickly getting assigned an office and finding a place to live when in Washington.

To defray costs on housing in DC, some lawmakers choose to room together and split rent. Others find small, basement apartments.  Low-end spaces in D.C. run about $1,400 per month.

But Chaffetz has another idea: a cot.

He plans to camp out in his office and shower at the gym in the House.

Watch: New housing for new lawmakers

Lucky for Chaffetz, he drew a low number in the office lottery this morning, which means he'll have his pick of available offices.

"I can look for ones with windows," says Chaffetz. "That's important when you're going be sleeping there."

Filed under: Congress
soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. Jonathan

    If he had not donated so much money to Prop 8 in California, maybe he would have some left over to pay for his rent. Separation of church and state? How about separation of state and home!

    November 22, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  2. Will, NJ

    Maybe more legislators need to feel what it's like to live without a place to call home.

    November 22, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  3. Margaret

    Okay, I'm a little confused. I would imagine that a congressman makes at least 100 grand a year--more than enough to maintain their primary home and rent an apartment in DC. I work in DC, live in MD and make less than 40 grand a year-I really don't feel too terrible for this congressman.

    November 22, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  4. Lynn in NM

    Sorry, but he can't possibly do that. He has to have a house there, and one in his home district, and a vaction home, and 6 cars, and a maid in all of his homes. Not to mention expensive furnishings in all of them. After all, he is a Congressman, and the taxpayers are paying for all of this. I am beiong sarcastic, in case some of you don't understand.

    November 22, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  5. Bob from NC

    You have to give the new guy a few weeks in DC to shmooze. Haliburton will have him set up in no time at all. Swimming Pools, Movie Stars. Check to see where he lives just prior to the next election.

    November 22, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |

    He is in sink whit a new reality were the word FRUGAL wil be in evreones minds.

    November 22, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  7. Jane

    I think that is great! We are where we are today because of excesses!
    He has figured out where to shower! At least he will be clean! This country needs to move from glitzy excesses to frugal!

    November 22, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  8. NH Mom

    That is disgraceful. It is completely inappropriate for anyone to sleep at their workplace- especially in Congress. This is absolutely disrespectful to the American people and our government.

    November 22, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  9. Joe

    Good let them stay in there offices there is nothing they do anyway

    November 22, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  10. ToTheMoon

    So now we are going to pay his salary and his rent and utility expenses!?

    November 22, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  11. JOHN

    If you think that's newsworthy, we have people living in cars in California. Then again, they're just state representatives.

    November 22, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  12. jimmy

    We can already see the effect of the widespread abuses of power,
    perks, waste, earmarks, and of course the scandals. that had plagued our government for so long. I believe PreZ-Elect Obama will do what he campaigned for. At the very least it will be a more efficient government.
    As for the Cabinet posts now being filled. I think Americans will be
    pleased with his choices for the Cabinet posts. Most important of which is Hillary Clinton as Sec. of State. She has National and International Stature..
    It already seems like Americans are beginning to look more optimistic
    about our country's problems being solved. GOD Bless America.

    November 22, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  13. Buckeye

    That's nothing. Congressman James Traficant, America's No.1 political prisoner, had a houseboat on the Potomac.

    November 22, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  14. Sean from New Jersey

    I say good for him. Everyone has this notion that republicans are W.A.S.P.'s , but many of them are just regular people like you and me. Good for him trying to find a way to save money. I know the feeling, I'm typing this up in my freezing room, with my coat and everything on, so I can save money on my heating.

    November 22, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  15. Steve

    I got a better idea. Why does he just sleep in his car? I mean hey if he wants to be conservative and save. All he needs is to install electrolysis so he can turn water into fuel and let his car run all day and night. If he is lucky he want get stolen.

    November 22, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  16. Gram

    If he wasn't afraid of contaminating his family by bringing them to the DC area, he could afford to sell his home in Utah and move to MD of VA....of course, he would not have a home in Utah so couldn't represent the state! Maybe Congress should turn a wing of one of their many office buildings into apartments, available for first term congressmen...until they decide if they want to make serving the Legislature forever....A few less space for Rep's staff might mean more work and less socializing would get done.

    November 22, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. Mitch

    Good for him.

    November 22, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  18. manmnt

    Dear Friends- Just watch howquickly he moves onto the "gravey Train"

    November 22, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. Mike in Toronto

    Hey good for him! Maybe he'll be reminded daily of the harsh realities facing many of his constituents.

    November 22, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. Tim

    As someone who worked on the Hill for years, I can tell you this is a very common occurrence. I had two bosses who did it. I guess the election season news hangover has started.

    November 22, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  21. Fed up with the lies

    So, don't they get some type of stipend to help with housing? What's he plan on doing with it? Maybe he could donate it to a worthy cause in Utah.

    November 22, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  22. Molly

    That's awesome!

    November 22, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  23. Paddy

    "Low-end spaces in D.C. run about $1,400 per month." Hey, he could always bunk in with Norm Coleman, who got a sweetheart deal of about $600/month for his DC apartment space ...... of course, that brought about those pesky ethics problems and a lawsuit or two, so maybe sleeping in his office is a MUCH better plan!

    November 22, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  24. happy thanksgiving

    this just goes to show how rediculous the housing industry has gotten, no wonder we are in such a mess.

    November 22, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  25. Jake

    Uhmm... "The current salary (2008) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $169,300 per year."

    This guy can't survive on more than three times the national average salary ($50k)? How do the Republicans expect people to survive on minimum wage, which is less than one tenth what the congressman makes? Reality check please.

    November 22, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
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