Can You Have "Separate But Equal" Affordable Housing?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Plans to have separate entrances for affordable housing and other residents of a new development have put the issue of "Inclusionary Zoning" back in the news. Brad Lander, Brooklyn City Councilman (D 39 - Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Columbia Waterfront, Gowanus, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park, and Kensington) talks about the overall success and failure of affordable housing policy, and his call for mandatory inclusionary zoning.

Comments [35]

DTorres from Mnhattan

This is one point of view.

Aug. 21 2013 12:31 AM
Meredith from Manhattan

to Brendan from upper west side.....excellent average honest working people want to stand in elevators with the 1 percent types, many of whom are white collar criminals, TAKING from the 99 percent, enabled by our rigged system to amass fortunes?

Thanks for the hulu link to the jon stewart show re wall st being a 'high crime area'.

to the caller saying he started low class, and worked harder and smarter to advance and does not want to share a building with those who 'didn't work harder and smarter'--- Typical arrogance of the right wing gop types who insult average earners as takers, even as they 'take' from them themselves. He has the illusion of his own superiority and that it should 'entitle' him to be Segregated by Income.

He likes to ignore that millions of hard working, smart people who contribute to society still can't afford the stratospheric rents in nyc. He feels good thinking they are 'inferior' to him in some way. He doesn't realize that he may have superior income, but he has inferior character and thinking skills.

Aug. 20 2013 12:44 PM
Tony from Canarsie

I suspect this elitist idea will not become widespread, but then again twenty years ago I would never have imagined that the Bowery would become a yuppie playground.

Aug. 20 2013 11:33 AM
Caesar Romaine from Manhattan

No developer wants to build apartments that rent for hundreds of dollars when he can build luxury apartments that rent for thousands or luxury condos that sell for millions. So, the city created this zoning law (not the developers) that includes tax breaks for the developer in order to get more affordable housing built. And it is voluntary. If you want the tax breaks you have to build a certain number of affordable units. Or you can just build your luxury condos, pass the tax burden on to the buyers and walk away.

Per the councilman, the developer in this case is exploiting a loophole in the zoning law. And he is the bad guy? Not the city council who wrote, or the mayor signed the loop-hole filled law?

Their solution now is.... wait for it.... to create more laws to fix the first one.

The real questions ought to be who authored the law, who proof read the law, who stress tested the law, who did the due diligence, who allowed this now offensive loop-hole to exist. I'm guessing if that exercise was conducted we would find that the loop-hole wasn't so much of a loop-hole at all, but rather more of a "side door", intentionally included in as a perk to someone, probably the developer in this case.

Aug. 20 2013 11:32 AM

Separate entrances...hmmm...we are going backwards. I remember the separate drinking fountains of the '50s in Miami, Florida, where I lived growing up. At the ripe old age of 9 I was shocked. My mother was a public school teacher and a proud member of the teacher's union. I, too, am a proud union member, now retired, although not a teacher. If it weren't for affordable housing I would be living on the street. The affordable housing regulations were created to keep the artists, teachers, police officers, restaurant and postal workers, radio personalities, not to mention your retired relatives, living in this city that is becoming a restricted haven for the rich and powerful. If we all left, who would do the Broadway plays that only you can afford to see, who would write your children's textbooks and the poetry you read, who would protect you from crime and fight your fires? Feel free to take your Beamers and Mercedes' and leave.

Aug. 20 2013 11:27 AM
Kim from NYC

I'm glad to see so much response to this issue. I'm so tired of hearing wealthy people say things like "I worked hard to get here." As if the working class/working poor don't work hard!! I don't doubt that Anthony has worked hard in his life, but working hard rarely equates with more wealth. Many working poor are working 2 & 3 jobs, often with no day off, let alone a yearly vacation.

I know I'm getting off the original subject, but it's all related to the issue of class--which is alive & well here in NYC, especially as this "separate-entrance-depending-on-income" story illustrates.

Aug. 20 2013 11:19 AM
Tom from UWS

In the neighborhood in question, so-called luxury buildings exist between Section 8 buildings and Mitchell Lama co-ops. If I were looking (and if the new owners of my building get their way, I may be) I'd prefer to live in the lower floors - even with a separate entrance - in my neighborhood of choice than to move an hour away from the neighborhood that has been my home for 30 years. 80/20 isn't about diversifying the building, it's about providing a measure of affordable housing, and, in fact, keeping the neighborhood diverse and vibrant. Whether that can ever happen in a luxury rental building is another question: typically the high-rent tenants are parking themselves until they can buy or for some other temporary status, so have less "investment" in the building and their neighbors than those who consider themselves more permanent. In that sense, hi-price rental buildings are occupied by transients - and transients never make a neighborhood. It's perfectly reasonable to create a separation between tenants. but I'd do it by creating a separate address and sense of a separate building. Other than that, I don't care now that I live in an old brownstone down the street from a pricey new tower. It doesn't make me feel "less than", merely, like I've got a good deal. I'd feel the same if I were using the "affordable" entrance in a new building. I might not have the views, but I'd still have all the local amenities. It's the neighborhood, not the building or the entrance that gives me quality of life.

Aug. 20 2013 11:12 AM
Sara from S.I., NY

Low income residents wouldn't bother me. What would be disturbing is low CLASS people. For years, my family was low income, but we were not low class. We cared for our home. We cleaned the area surrounding it. We respected our neighbors, and were respected by them. Money does not necessarily make you respected. The way you live can do that.

Aug. 20 2013 11:04 AM
Elizabeth from Midtown West

I am fortunate enough to live in 80/20 housing. When I left my husband with my young child, all I could afford was a Mitchell-Lama building in my Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. While some of my neighbors were lovely, we endured smoking in the hallways, cursing in the elevators, trash in the courtyard, and a generally depressing atmosphere (exposed fluorescent lighting, popcorn ceilings, ice frozen on the inside of my windows in the winter....). When I qualified for 80/20 in a luxury building since I was only working part-time raising my young child, I was so grateful (and still am!) This allowed me to be with my semi-high needs child and have affordable rent. Others who need this type of rent are artists, actors, documentary filmmakers (these are my neighbors!). These people work hard and behave respectfully, and, unfortunately, do not always get compensated commensurately for their efforts. However, I am appalled by the way some people treat their surroundings! My upstairs neighbors in an affordable apt. have thrown liquids out of their windows and also spit, covering my windows in slime. (We have windows that open in a unique way, so the building has them cleaned 2x/year. They do not open or flip so that the renter can clean them. I pray for rain when this happens!) The market value residents down the hall do not break down any of their garbage, don't separate their recycling, or throw their bags down the chute. We have the hardest working porters, and I feel the least we can do is follow their instructions of flattening the boxes and putting things in the bins. Even the garbage room in this building is beautiful, and people do not have respect for it. Some of this could be cultural, I guess. The upstairs neighbors are Indian, and the down the hall residents are Korean, and perhaps they have different ideas about garbage and windows.

There is a small lawn on the terrace for outdoor yoga, and some resident let their dog poop on it. Dogs aren't even allowed on the terrace. And people continue to sneak cigarettes out there, too. It may seem like no big deal, unless you child has breathing issues, and you are trying to eat dinner on the tables out there.

So, I do not blame the developer who wants separate entrances, although I don't believe it is always the low-income tenants that are doing the disrespectful things. I show my gratitude by being respectful and considerate, and tipping at the holidays as much as I can afford as a single parent.

Thank you for your show!

Aug. 20 2013 11:04 AM

Caller #2, it is pretty obvious that what really motivates your call and your comments are a deep disgust of the working class and a fear of association with them. What other kind of person would call in to a radio show and give as a reason to support this kind of blatant class segregation the fact that you are "doing very well for yourself"? It is sad that people need this kind of validation so badly.

Aug. 20 2013 11:02 AM
Brenda from New York City

I lived in an 80/20 (rental) one block from the new building being discussed. I chose the building partly because of the 80/20 policy. We lived on a high floor amongst people of varying income levels. There is a large public housing complex across the street and park and playgrounds were shared (almost always civilly.) The blend of incomes and backgrounds is what gives a neighborhood a strong pulse. We need more of this seamless meshing not balkanizing.

Aug. 20 2013 11:00 AM
Brendan from Upper West Side

I like the idea of forcing rich people to use a separate entrance to buildings. I do not like having to interact with members of the so-called 1%, even the 2% to be honest.

They offend my sensibilities as a New Yorker and an American. I'm not saying they don't have a right to live here! No, no. But if I don't have to see or interact with them, I know my day will be better.

Besides, many of them look like white-collar criminals:

Aug. 20 2013 10:58 AM
Tony from Canarsie

What's next, censoring what tv shows tenets can watch? "Sorry, ma'am, but no Frank Capra movies allowed on your floor."

Aug. 20 2013 10:54 AM

the the man who called in.. you poor rich guy.

Too bad ritzy developers KICKED out WORKING CLASS people buy pricing housing OUT in their own neighborhoods.

Your ignorant

Aug. 20 2013 10:48 AM
Sheldon from brooklyn

The callers are mixing "low income" with "affordable housing"

Caller #2, It irks me that I, as a tax payer is subsiding luxury housing and their tenants, who pay next to nothing in property taxes. If you can afford to buy a Mercedes, you can afford to pay property taxes.

Aug. 20 2013 10:48 AM
Bob from NY

I find the opinions of the caller, Anthony, to be grotesque. There are many people who work very hard, full time, and still don't make enough to afford decent housing or even enough food -- because people don't make a living wage in this world anymore. Especially when children don't get a good start at home (parents working too much and not educated) and nutritionally and educationally, let's not blame them and/or punish them because they're struggling in their quest to better themselves.

Aug. 20 2013 10:48 AM
james from nyc

I hope they have separate water fountains and toilets.

I can't believe hard working market rent payers have to live in the real world and deal with real world problems.

can't we hide this in the back round some how

Aug. 20 2013 10:48 AM

Diversity is a cornerstone of the city - people of all income levels share services like the parks, subways, etc. Why not housing? Besides, by NYC standards, "poor" includes a whole host of professionals like teachers and firefighters who contribute to and support the community.

Aug. 20 2013 10:47 AM

Thank you Brian . . sometimes people do all the right things, work hard and sacrifice, but just have bad luck. True, not everyone, but there are some in that situation.

Aug. 20 2013 10:47 AM
SydUWS from UWS

This is CRAZY. Why arent we focusing on the fact that there are affordable luxury apartments being built on the UWS on Riverside Drive??? Who CARES if there is a separate entrance. If you don't pay as much you dont deserve the ammentites of a first-rate building. No one is saying you dont deserve a nice apartment in a nice building in a nice part of town (if that was the case, these new affordable appartents wouldnt exist in the first place.)Geeze louise!!!

Aug. 20 2013 10:46 AM
Brock from Manhattan

Wasn't the intent of the program to get lower income people exposed to and therefore positively influenced by another class? Also known as social engineering.

Aug. 20 2013 10:46 AM
Robert from NYC

tsk tsk tsk Anthony, forgot what it was like? You would probably vote for John Boehner if you lived in Ohio. He's like you. Talks about how he comes from blue collar and now does all he can to screw blue collars!

Aug. 20 2013 10:45 AM
Harry Bewals from nyc

I like the snobbs calling in.

They are better then the poor.


Aug. 20 2013 10:44 AM
Clif from Manhattan

This is simply craziness! I'm taking my family and getting the #!%@ out of NYC. We just can't take this kind of thinking and behavior. We need to be around more progressive and rational people.

Aug. 20 2013 10:43 AM
Sam from NY

Regulate it so the developer puts money in escrow during construction that they'll only get back if affordable units are actually mixed in throughout the building and there aren't any loopholes used to evade the affordable-housing laws.

Aug. 20 2013 10:43 AM
Sydney from NYC

Can someone tell me why its wrong that residents who pay less have a separate entrance? These residents are still getting nice apartments in a nice neighborhood in a nice building. Why the outrage??? Ridiculous

Aug. 20 2013 10:42 AM
Elsie from Brooklyn

Here's an idea - if you don't want to live with people outside of your financial, educational, and racial background then I suggest you move back to the Midwest.

This whole idea is so offensive, I don't even know where to begin. What the hell has happened to NYC?

Aug. 20 2013 10:42 AM
Robert from NYC

WOW, WOW! Are the lower incomers allowed to enter and leave the building at particular hours only?

Aug. 20 2013 10:41 AM
jmurphy from NY

I find the notion of separate entrances and separate floors bizarre and devaluing of the lower income residents. I would avoid such a building like the plague.

Aug. 20 2013 10:40 AM

I understand limiting certain amenities to the market rate dweller . . . . but separate entrances? Reminds me of the "colored entrance" of yesteryear

Aug. 20 2013 10:38 AM

Absolutely ridiculous and barbaric.

Aug. 20 2013 10:36 AM
Sheldon from brooklyn

80/20 "Affordable Housing" has always been a joke. It's usually the worst apt lines, lesser appliances, no access to bldg amenities like gyms.

Developers giving their "paying customers" priority is understandable but they are getting subsidies or zoning exemptions for providing affordable housing.

If separate entrances are now acceptable, why not just have separate developments, It's more dignified.

Aug. 20 2013 10:35 AM

Oh - my - GOD!

And I suppose if the development has a shuttle bus, the lower income people will have to it in the back?

This is disgraceful, anti-democratic, and should be illegal!

Aug. 20 2013 10:35 AM
Tom from UWS

In the west 60s there is a luxury building with two tiers of luxury: the top floors (where owners include Regis and Joy Philbin) have one lobby, while the lower floors use another. These are all folks paying high prices and high monthlies - but with ostensibly elevated levels of service or luxury in part of the building. This building has been around for about 15 years.

Aug. 20 2013 10:35 AM
Bart from NY


Aug. 20 2013 10:34 AM

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