This Week in Dickensian Sadness: NYC OKs ‘Poor Door’ for Low-Income Residents

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White/Colored. Rich/Poor. Income matters a lot.

In a move that would have certainly raised the drawn-eyebrows of Marie Antoinette, the city of New York has OKed a condo developers plan for a “poor door,” a separate entrance for low-income residents taking advantage of NYC’s Inclusionary Housing Program (IHP).

The Extell Corporation (Seriously? No one in the boardroom suggested a less evil-sounding name?) is moving forward with its plans for One Riverside Park, billing it as a “New York’s most distinguished new address.” Less distinguished, the fact that Extell had to comply with the city’s zoning ordinances, specifically the IHP, a program that will let developers essentially build taller structures if they agree to set aside a percentage of units as “affordable.” Programs such as these are common in cities where cost of living is high.

Well, how does one get around the poor? Not wanting their condo owners to have to rub elbows with the great unwashed, Extell petitioned the city to allow for a separate entrance for them, or what has been dubbed the “poor door.” According to the New York Post, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development has approved Extell’s application for the Inclusionary Housing Program and the construction of the separate entrance for the building’s less fortunate residents. The 33-story building will feature 219 units with “stunning river views.” Those 55 units that have been designated affordable, will all, of course, face the street. The normal, I suppose, rich entrance will be on the street, while the “poor door” will be in the back alley.


When the plan was initially submitted last year, then-mayoral candidate Christine Quinn called the idea for a separate entrance “discrimination.” She went on the criticize Extell for taking advantage of city tax breaks made available for developers who provide affordable housing. Quinn said Extell’s plan “negates the inclusiveness the program seeks to create.” She went on to lose her bid for mayor to Bill de Blasio.

Despite it being approved this time, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has vowed to disapprove any future attempts by developers to include a “poor door.”

In case you were wondering, the affordable units will be rented out to those who make 60 percent or less of the median income of the area, which is around $51,000.

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