No More ‘Poor Door’: New York City Bans Segregated Entrances Based On Income

July 1, 2015  |  

Developers who get tax breaks from building affordable housing in luxury condos are banned from building segregated entrances — one for the po’ folks and one for the wealthy — to compensate for the blurred class lines created from sheltering the haves and the have-nots in one place, The Guardian reports.

The New York state ban, according to CNN Money, was passed on Thursday as part of a statute that “renewed the state’s 421-a tax break program.”

“Affordable units shall share the same common entrances and common areas as market rate units,’’ the bill stated.

The “poor door” policy was previously authorized under an Inclusionary Housing program implemented by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009. Newsweek delves into the loophole of the six-year-old zoning code:

“The [2009 Inclusionary Housing] allows developers like Extell access to subsidies if they construct affordable housing units, either on- or off-site. Developers have constructed a wall between market-rate buyers and affordable housing tenants, wired separate electrical systems, and built separate elevator systems,” Newsweek said. “Topping it off with separate entrances, there are essentially two separate buildings, but the affordable housing units were classified as ‘off-site.'”

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer says, “Buildings that segregate entrances for lower-income and middle-class tenants are an affront to our values.”

It’s much too late to do anything about the “poor door” condominiums located on 40 Riverside Boulevard and 1 West End Avenue. According to Newsweek, “[Y]ou can’t exactly ask a development to tear down a 33-story building.” Low-income residents will still be asked to use the poor door, however, amenities such as the courtyard and river-view roof deck that were once closed-off to affordable housing residents will now be accessible.

“Fundamentally, no taxpayer dollar should go to program that further segregates our communities. Certainly not by socioeconomic status,” New York City councilwoman Helen Rosenthal told the Guardian.

Due to the new provision, all affordable housing residents in the future will not be subjected to using a specific entrance due to their income level.

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