New York Bans "Poor Doors"

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

New York City recently passed a law that would stabilize rent costs, but thanks to a provision tucked into the bill, builders who receive tax benefits for offering units to low-income tenants will no longer be allowed to build separate entrances for the the poor.

“I think that the state legislature and the city are now doing the right thing in terms of treating people in every socioeconomic group with the same level of respect and dignity,” New York City councilwoman Helen Rosenthal told the Guardian.

She added: “Our legislators heard the human cry from constituents who were very dismayed to see that there was a loophole in the previous legislation that allowed the developers to build a segregated building even though taxpayers’ dollars were involved. 

“Now that indignity won’t happen.”

The “poor door” came about thanks to a loophole in the Inclusionary Housing program, which allowed builders to get financial benefits if they built affordable housing on the property or away from it. In effect, this meant low-income housing would meet  requirements for the tax breaks even if they had a “poor door.”

“I doubt any of us on the council were aware of that provision; I certainly wasn’t,” Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer told the New York Post last year. “A separate door on a building that benefits one specific project evades the spirit of our city – and we are working to close this loophole.”

After the law was passed, she told Think Progress “Buildings that segregate entrances for lower-income and middle-class tenants are an affront to our values.”

Rosenthal called the new law a “big win for dignity.” She explained it was a matter of equality.

“Once we brought it to everyone’s attention, people were willing to take a step back and says: ‘Well if developers aren’t going to do this voluntarily, we will require it to happen.’ Fundamentally, no taxpayer dollar should go to program that further segregates our communities. Certainly not by socioeconomic status,” she said.

Sources: Guardian, Think Progress Image via Gonzalo Viera Azpiroz/Flickr