The Poor Door

A New York developer is under fire after proposing separate entryways for rich and less-rich tenants at a planned luxury condo:

A 33-story building slated to be built on Riverside Boulevard between 61st and 62nd street will have an entirely separate entrance for people of lower socioeconomic means: a door for the poor, or as we call it, a “Poor Door.” The affordable homes will be oriented towards the back of the building, while market-rate units will have a view of the Hudson.

Emily Badger calls the building, which will include 55 affordable-housing units, “a perfect metaphor for New York City’s gaping inequality”:

Of course, it’s easy to segregate affordable housing–and the people who live in it–into its own part of town, its own neighborhoods, even its own isolated blocks. But it takes some serious creativity to keep the haves and have-nots apart in the very same building.

Bill Bradley sees a case of tax incentives backfiring:

Floors two through six of the building will be available only to residents earning less than 60 percent of the area median income, putting them under the “affordable” umbrella. Those five floors are part of the exact same building as the luxury condos, but because of the separate entrance they could be legally designated as a separate entity. So technically, [the developer] would have an entire building consisting of affordable housing. On paper, this makes the project eligible for subsidies ostensibly meant to protect lower-income tenants, not move them out of sight.

Unsurprisingly, critics are out in force. Barro is one of the very few to defend the separate entrances:

We require and incent developers who build market-rate housing to also sell or rent some units in the same developments at cut-rate prices. The idea is that affordable housing shouldn’t just be affordable and livable; it should be substantially similar in location and character to new luxury housing. If rich people are getting brand new apartments overlooking the Hudson River, so should some lucky winners of affordable housing lotteries. … Getting mad about the “poor door” is absurd. The only real outrage is that Extell had to build affordable units at all.