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The church where Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) preaches is being accused of targeting poor residents of an apartment building that it owns in a new scandal that could worsen his chance of winning reelection next month.
According to a report by the Washington Free Beacon, Warnock’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the senator serves as a senior pastor, “drawing a salary as well as a generous $7,417 monthly housing allowance—has moved to evict disadvantaged residents from an apartment building it owns, one of whom it tried to push out on account of merely $28.55 in past-due rent.”
This, after Warnock noted on Twitter as he campaigned for his office in 2020: “Unemployment benefits have expired, rent is due today, and many Georgia families are at risk of eviction in the middle of a pandemic,” adding that by failing to act, his political opponents were “clearly only concerned with serving their own interests.”
Unemployment benefits have expired, rent is due today, and many Georgia families are at risk of eviction in the middle of a pandemic.
My opponents are supposed to be serving the people in Washington, but they’re clearly only concerned with serving their own interests
— Reverend Raphael Warnock (@ReverendWarnock) August 1, 2020
The Washington Examiner adds:
The church is the 99 percent owner of the Columbia Tower at MLK Village in downtown Atlanta, according to documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, which describe the building as a home for the “chronically homeless” and those with “mental disabilities.”
A dozen eviction lawsuits were filed against Columbia Tower residents over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, the first one in February 2020 and, most recently, in September 2022. The total sum of past-due rent cited in the lawsuits is just $4,900, a figure that could have been covered by one of Warnock’s monthly housing stipends from the church.
The lawsuits were actually filed by Ebenezer Baptist Church’s 1-percent business partner owner, Columbia Residential, which manages the day-to-day operations of the apartment complex. But revelations about the evictions come as Warnock continues to portray himself as an ally of Georgians struggling to make their rent as they continue struggling to recover from the pandemic’s economic ravages.
The outlet reported that Warnock’s church isn’t in need of funds. Financial statements show that the church ended 2021 with “cash equivalents” exceeding $1.2 million, so it is not clear why the house of worship is being so aggressive in attempting to collect rent and/or evict residents.
NEW: Records obtained by @FreeBeacon reveal Raphael Warnock’s church, which pays him a $7,417 monthly housing allowance, secretly owns a low-income apartment building that tried to evict residents during the pandemic.
One for just $28.55 in late rent.https://t.co/nAXcUi4qdX
— Andrew Kerr (@AndrewKerrNC) October 11, 2022
Several residents of the complex told the Free Beacon they did not know that Ebenezer Baptist Church owned the apartment building. They went on to describe what it has been like to deal with the landlord, however.
“They treat me like a piece of shit. They’re not compassionate at all,” said Columbia Tower resident Phillip White, a 69-year-old black man who says he served in Vietnam was served an eviction notice on Sept. 20 for failure to meet a $192 rent payment. He also received a notice in September 2021 for $179 in past-due rent, which he paid along with $325 in additional fees.
“The eight Columbia Tower residents who have been served dispossessory notices since early 2020 owed, on average, just $125 a month in rent, and five lawsuits sought rent less than one month late,” the Free Beacon reported. “Two resulted in court-ordered evictions carried out by the Fulton County Marshal’s Department. Six other eviction lawsuits were either voluntarily dismissed by the building administration or closed out by a judge for inactivity. Four others, including White’s, were filed in late September and remain open.”
Pandemic unemployment benefits and eviction protections will expire this month.
And it’s all because @Kloeffler and Senate Republicans refuse to fight for families.
— Reverend Raphael Warnock (@ReverendWarnock) December 7, 2020
This isn’t the first scandalous incident to rock Warnock’s re-election effort. A recently resurfaced report noted that in 2020, Warnock was accused by his now ex-wife Ouleye Ndoye of running over her foot with a vehicle. Also, body cam footage of police talking with Ndoye shows her telling officers that her then-husband is a “great actor.”
“This man’s running for United States Senate, and all he cares about right now is his reputation,” she said. “I work at the mayor’s office, and this is a big problem. I’ve been trying to be very quiet about the way that he is for the sake of my kids and his reputation,” she added, going on to explain that she has “tried to keep the way that he acts under wraps for a long time, and today he crossed the line.”
“So that is what is going on here, and he’s a great actor. He is phenomenal at putting on a really good show,” she told officers.