A low-income apartment building owned by Raphael Warnock’s church is plagued by pests, maintenance problems, and filth, according to residents—and at least two people have sued the building this year after the elevator allegedly collapsed on them.
Residents of the Columbia Tower at MLK Village complained about living conditions in the building, telling the Washington Free Beacon that garbage is left to pile up in the storage rooms for days, creating an “overwhelming trash smell,” common areas aren’t maintained, and the air vents produce a “sickening” amount of dust.
Tenants also said the elevators often break down, and handicapped residents have had to call the fire department to carry them to their rooms.
The allegations follow a Free Beacon report that found Columbia Tower had attempted to evict at least eight low-income residents over unpaid rent since the start of the pandemic—including one tenant who owed just $28. Warnock serves as senior pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, which, through a charity it controls called the Ebenezer Building Foundation, owns 99 percent of Columbia Tower, according to records obtained by the Free Beacon. It’s not clear what Warnock’s role was in overseeing Columbia Tower. A repair grant Ebenezer Building Foundation filed in June, however, said Warnock “works closely” with Ebenezer’s executive pastor “in managing the overall vision, ministries, and operations” of the church.
The news raises questions for Warnock, who has campaigned as an ally of low-income Georgians and people with disabilities. It could also draw new scrutiny to Warnock’s compensation from the church, which paid him a $7,417-per-month, tax-free housing allowance last year—an arrangement that allowed him to circumvent federal limits on outside income for U.S. senators.
Court filings reviewed by the Free Beacon appear to back up claims from Columbia Tower residents that there are problems with the living conditions at the building.