Plans for an in-progress luxury high-rise building in the Upper West Side of New York City include a separate entrance for low-income renters, dubbed the “poor door.”
The building on Riverside Boulevard is being developed by Extell Development Company, and will have 219 condos that will go for upwards of $1 million. But the development also includes 55 affordable housing units for residents receiving subsidized housing, which will rent for around $845 per month—and will have a separate entrance and elevators. The inclusion of affordable units allows Extell to receive a tax break on the development.
The “rich door, poor door” plans for the development have accrued widespread criticism in New York City. Assembly member Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) is among those that oppose the plans.
“My question is, why do the affordable units have to be segregated apart from the condos that the wealthy can afford to buy?” asked Rosenthal. “Developers up and down the west side and across the city manage to inter-mingle the affordable units with the non-affordable units—it’s done everywhere. There’s no reason that there needs to be segregation.”
“This ‘separate but equal’ arrangement is abominable and has no place in the 21st century, let alone on the Upper West Side,” she continued. “A mandatory affordable housing plan is not license to segregate lower-income tenants from those who are well-off. The developer must follow the spirit as well as the letter of the law when building affordable housing, and this plan is clearly not what was intended by the community.”
Though the situation is not unique in New York City, the local community board has concerns about the development, and wrote a letter to the city’s planning and housing departments asking them to ensure that the developer would “avoid a situation in which the Affordable Housing tenants are relegated to the status of second class citizens.”