How Many "Poor Doors" Will NYC Build?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The de Blasio administration says it cannot stop a building on the West Side from constructing separate entrances and amenities for residents of different incomes. It vows to change zoning regulations, but is that actually possible? WNYC economic development reporter Janet Babin discusses the controversy.  


Janet Babin

Comments [41]

vance from Los Angeles, CA

What should happen: If New Yorkers have any dignity and/or self respect left, they will terrorize that apartment and the residents of that complex day and night, until no other developer dares propose such garbage again.

What will happen: Despite thinking they cosmopolitan, most NY'ers will accept anything someone tells them like the ignorant cows they are. Just like that idiotic freedom tower.

Aug. 29 2014 04:06 PM

The assertion by DeBlasio's administration that they couldn't stop this is absurd. It's called politics, they could stop this very easily if they wanted to. I suspect he's taken money from the developer.

Aug. 03 2014 11:39 AM
New Yorker from NYC

If this happened in Bedstuy or Harlem the Rev. Al Sharpton would be with his house of injustice followers crying foul on the developer. Our buildings dept is a disaster for allowing this in the first place and the local community board should be shamed as they must of saw the renderings when the developer presented to the community. Has everyone been paid off by REBNY? Extell is a large donor to our NY Gov so we should follow the $ because I'm sure Andrew Cuomo is not going to live in a building where he can't go in the front entrance and neither will Deblasio.

Jul. 28 2014 04:44 PM

Laila--With all due respect, do you actually *live* in New York? If you do, then you've probably noticed that this is a city built on neighborhoods of income diversity. When I was just starting out and living in a modest tenement studio, I waited on line to vote with Walter Cronkite. That's diversity, that's NYC. You have some unfortunately misconceptions about what affordable housing is and isn't. No one is getting anything for nothing in the case described. The units aren't waterfront condos, they're streetside rentals. Perhaps the only advantage is that they happen to be situated in an establishe UWS enclave. Please learn more about affordable housing initiatives, if only for your own peace of mind.

Jul. 28 2014 01:33 AM
Judy from Tribeca

I have lived in a former Mitchell-Lama rental building in Tribeca for 20+ years (no one wanted to live in Tribeca back then). It was a model of vertical integration ON EVERY FLOOR of the 39-story buildings. It was a stable community; no one moved. The new population of market-rate tenants pays higher rents, yes. But they do not stay more than a year or two. So the old model of vertical integration resulted in a beautifully diverse and STABLE residential population. The newer model has created an UNSTABLE residential community.

Jul. 25 2014 04:02 PM
Eugenia Renskoff from NYC

No poor doors! That is discriminatory. It makes people feel less than and nobody needs that. It is something similar to the servants entrance. This is a democracy where people are equal. Poor doors are not democratic. Eugenia Renskoff

Jul. 25 2014 02:17 PM
R from Tribeca

Besides all the segregation facts mentioned in the program, there is also the poor design and construction of the affordable units compared to “full-price” units.

For example, I saw both types of units in one of these mixed income buildings built 5 or 6 years ago in Tribeca.

In the affordable units, the materials used, e.g., in kitchens, bathrooms, window frames, etc. were poor quality for a construction of its age.

Not only the materials used were different, but the affordable units were also designed and finished with no aesthetics (although it is possible to build aesthetically pleasing apartments even with less expensive materials).

Affordable units are not a charity. Their developers benefit from tax payers’ money and pay lowered taxes for many years; and they are allowed more floors to build.

It’s very sad how a good idea to address affordable housing is being allowed to be misused so openly.

Jul. 24 2014 12:23 PM

The important thing is to keep NEIGHBORHOODS integrated. "Poor doors" is a bad idea, but a separate adjacent building can be a great benefit for all, especially in a very desirable but economically monolithic area like Riverside Boulevard. As a middle income person, I would feel uncomfortable living in a building where most other people were either much richer or much poorer.

Jul. 24 2014 12:17 PM
Anthony in Manhattan from Manhattan

if developers are allowed to concentrate the affordable units in one area on a particular floor or in its own elevator bank, you can bet your boots; that area, that floor, that elevator bank will be ignored when it comes to repairs and maintenance.

Jul. 24 2014 11:54 AM
Laila from New York

I believe mixing high and low income tenants together is LUDICROUS. People used to live in neighborhoods they could afford, they studied hard and worked hard, in my case for many,many years, to be able eventually to afford something better. They then moved up to a better apartment or to a better area. Why should somebody be able to go into a high-priced market without having put in the effort? I have nothing against people who earn less, in fact I used to be one, but why would anyone want to live in a building where somebody is not sharing the burden and those who pay the regular price are subsidizing those who do not? It sounds absolutely unfair.

Jul. 24 2014 11:50 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

99% percent of the posters here get it. If a developer wants to take my money via a tax break or a zoning variance to build higher. The government should have a say on how the affordable apts are configured.

Jul. 24 2014 11:49 AM
Andrea from Philadelphia

The developer and the market rate tenants are also being subsidized by the taxpayer in these developments because the developers are getting huge tax breaks. No one is forcing developers to take these abatements and no one is going to force market-rate tenants to live in these buildings. The "affordable" apartments will not be required to have spas and marble floors. And even if they put affordable apartments on the upper floors, rest assured they will not be the ones with river views and terraces. But to act as if there is nothing wrong or discriminatory with making people who are paying rent use the equivalent of a service entrance is absurd. How are the "market rate" tenants going to be harmed by having to use the same door or ride the same elevators as their less wealthy neighbors?

Jul. 24 2014 11:48 AM
Brooklyn Mom

This is not the first "poor door" for a luxury housing development. The Edge in Williamsburg has a poor door and residents in there are not allowed to use the pool. Thank the rezoning law under Bloomburg, developers are given tax breaks PLUS greater Height and Bulk ratios (bigger buildings) if they provide affordable units. Some developers wants to use this new ruling by building luxe units on the waterfront but the affordable units inland, not even in the same building! This has been going on for too many years, I'm happy that this is finally getting some media attention.

Jul. 24 2014 11:48 AM

Hey, keep in mind that a family and make up to $160,000 per year and still qualify for affordable housing, so let's not pretend that these units will be occupied by homeless people. ugh!

Jul. 24 2014 11:44 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

The very definition of affordable is under attack. For nearly an entire generation (since 2001), GDP has grown by 50% but median family income has remained the same. Building planning and construction timelines are frequently on the order of 8-10 years. If the unfair distribution of income trend holds during the building's development, what was planned as affordable in 2015, won't really be affordable in 2025.

Kill the Bush Tax cuts.

Jul. 24 2014 11:41 AM
Taylor Eskew

I have spent a lifetime working for affordable housing (former ED for Habitat for Humanity) and every building in NYC - the higher floors cost more, the basement the least. I do not understand why setting aside units as affordable changes that basic fact of life. My first apartment had a tub in the kitchen and a toilet in the hall because it was affordable.

Jul. 24 2014 11:40 AM
eric from park slope

Where is it written that every developer has to be guaranteed the maximum profit by the government?
they already get massive tax breaks. is it okay to build with substandard materials for the lower income residents?

Jul. 24 2014 11:39 AM

The caller who is taking the side of the developer should realize that I as a tax payer shouldn't have to pay for the developer getting subsidizes and tax breaks.

Jul. 24 2014 11:38 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

This is segregation based on "class" or income. Back to pre-Victorian Britain. I find it as repugnant as overt racial segregation. But I understand the concern of the snobs with the big bucks not wanting to rub elbows with the "unwashed" peasants. Hey, I feel if you want to live in New York City you have to suffer the slings and arrows of close contact with the unwashed masses.

Jul. 24 2014 11:38 AM
kate.a from brooklyn

Without knowing the details of the plan, the concept of a separate but equal entrance based on income and wealth horrifies me. Is this another way to exclude by skin color? Even if not, it is an appalling concept.

Jul. 24 2014 11:38 AM
CR from Market Rate Apartment: Manhattan

"It creates a situation where it's ok for me to be here but you not to be here"???

What does this dummy think we have now? These people are being given cheap housing. It is being directly subsidized by their landlord, the other people in the building and the taxpayer. Say thank you.

The alternate is they don't build any.

Jul. 24 2014 11:37 AM

The answer is easy: if you don't want to mix low and high incomes in your building equally, then don't take the tax break. that's all and you can do what you want.

Jul. 24 2014 11:36 AM
Marsha Andrews from UWS

The idea that the only lower income tenants would be "droopy drawers" people is not only ignorant but so arrogant. I spent years as a striving opera singer and could never afford these ridiculous prices for rent on what used to be a wonderfully diverse UWS. I now work as a real estate agent and abhor this idea of segregating people and am so saddened that I can't find places for artists, singers etc. on what used to be my beloved upper west side.

Jul. 24 2014 11:35 AM

A building with a rich door and a poor door? Well -- makes it easier to figure out where to stand on "Eat the Rich" Day!

Jul. 24 2014 11:34 AM
Tonky from redhook

You could call it a "Luxury Entrance" - More doorman, more services, nicer art, all stuff that costs more money.

Jul. 24 2014 11:34 AM
Tonky from redhook

You could call it a "Luxury Entrance" - More doorman, more services, nicer art, all stuff that costs more money.

Jul. 24 2014 11:34 AM
Sue from NYC

Caller Barbara: There's a good reason not to segregate low-income housing on separate floors. I live in a building where the 7 lower floors are low-income and the top 2 floors are market rate. This has lead to hostility within the building, where the lower-floor people look askance at those on the "rich" floors and feel they're being discriminated against (even though there's no truth or facts behind their reaction).

That's why.

Jul. 24 2014 11:33 AM

straw man. the problem isn't about doors. it's about the unnatural concept of affordable housing.

get rid of affordable housing - and also tax breaks for developers and mortgage buyers -- let them bus their own dam tables.

Jul. 24 2014 11:33 AM

If they aren't fit to come thru the front door, I don't WANT them to live in my building. Separating people by social/economic class goes against American ideals. Lower class people learn things from their contact with others. And the same holds true from upper class persons. Upstairs/Downstairs anyone?

Jul. 24 2014 11:32 AM

If you think that Poor Doors are a good idea then you don't know what we learned from the 5 Points or the disaster of housing projects. 80-20 housing was created to mix low income, middle income and upper income together, so that we could build a stronger residential community in this City and raise all boats.

Jul. 24 2014 11:32 AM
M. L. from New York, NY

Will these "affordable" units realistically go to young working professionals with low incomes but whose parents have high assets? I'm pretty cynical about affordable housing going towards people who truly need it, e.g., have no safety net.

Jul. 24 2014 11:30 AM
TonyJ from Downtown east

This math-od of 20-80 was to allow poorer to live within a more stable environment, leading to better behaved and more productive young people.

This method started in the 90s, and your guest needs to speak to that.

Jul. 24 2014 11:28 AM

I for one feel I not only deserve, but have the right for someone to help pay for me to live in Beverly Hills for the sake of equality and inclusiveness.

Jul. 24 2014 10:36 AM

I think the purpose of some of these laws have been bastardized a bit. Some of these proposals that not only must subsidized units be scattered throughout a building, but have the same finishes, amenities, etc. are becoming ludicrous. It goes beyond having some affordable units in the city, but requiring others to pay for a luxury lifestyle - not only location, but views, euro appliances, marble, pools, hot-tubs, gyms, saunas, spas etc. WTF?

Jul. 24 2014 10:31 AM
Adrienne from NYC

Separate but unequal? Sounds eerily familiar. This is ugly on so many levels.

Years ago, I worked for a publisher of high-end magazines. I was told employees use the service elevator and entrance after I had the temerity to enter through the office's front door. When I questioned this policy, I was told that people like Francis Ford Coppola use the front door and that the marble floor would get dirty if the rest of us used it. Presumably the workers would drag in our filth. Apparently, Coppola and his ilk don't walk the same dirty streets as the rest of us.

Jul. 24 2014 10:24 AM
Jake S

Hi "John from Office," good to see we can depend on you for racist screeds as usual. Why not just come out and admit that you're not comfortable around "the blacks?"

Jul. 24 2014 10:22 AM

Quite frankly if you don't like the door, you can pay full price like everyone else and use the main one. It is like a pan handler taking a hand out but then demanding a hundred dollar bill. You are being given something far, far below cost, which costs not only the people in the building every month to cover your costs, but the tax payer as well. Accept it and move on, you've won the lottery and there are quite literally probably a billion other people around the world who would be grateful for the apartment in prime Manhattan.
As for the laws, one of the problems with stabilization is if you give one of these tenants access to any amenity, you are required to keep that amenity in perpetuity. As an example, put in a gym, you can never get rid of said gym or raise a fee on it if it ends up costing the building money or no one uses it or the building wants to use the space for something else.
I for one would love to see the end of these sweetheart deals with politician "friendly" developers at all our expense and just see general density built in certain areas like the west side yards where you are not corrupting an established neighborhood but can build large skyscrapers putting 1000s of market apartments online and hopefully bring up the vacancy rate thereby stabilizing everyone's rent.

Jul. 24 2014 10:16 AM
Tom Crisp from UWS

This should be a non-issue. I know a condominium at 67th and Columbus where there are two lobbies with two entrances, side by side on the street. One serves the top floors of the building, providing a different level of services at a higher monthly price. The finishes of the lobbies and hallways are higher--end in the upper tier half, and of course the views may be better. If condo buyers can cope with this without feeling insulted or marginalized, why can't renters?

I've been in many new rental buildings where lower floors are set aside as "affordable" units. In some of these buildings the levels of finish of hallways and apartments also varies as you climb up to the sky. This isn't to diminish those who live on lower floors, but to help justify the astronomical rents on the top. And it's those rents that make the "affordable" units possible, much the way the $400 seats at the opera help make the $50 seats available.

The purpose of including "affordable" units in new construction is to keep housing available for working people - hardly "the poor", but working families. It helps keep neighborhoods diverse and lively. It's not about introducing folks of average income to luxury housing. Think of it this way: the affordable unit tenants are not being assessed extra rent for the privilege of coming through a different door and having carpet in the hall instead of tile. I'd gladly sign up for that.

Jul. 24 2014 10:14 AM
john from office

If I pay big $$$$ for an apartment, I don't want the droopy Drawers Crowd using my enterance. Hanging out, listening to rap, wearing sneakers, yelling at each other the universal cry, My Nig------. Sorry, don't want it.

Jul. 24 2014 10:00 AM
CR from Manhattan Market Rate Apt.

You're right Doxiepuppy! Those developers and those rich bastards buying those multi-million dollar condos should not be allowed to do this. Their investments should not be used to provide housing for poor people. Rescind this law. NO MORE building buildings that offer two-tiered amenities! From now on luxury condos and $10,000 rentals only. We'll show them!

Jul. 24 2014 09:55 AM
Doxiepuppy from New York

Shame on New York, and us! This law MUST be changed, the sooner the better. "No poor allowed" will soon be our motto.

Jul. 24 2014 09:24 AM

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