“Poor Doors” Have Been Officially Banned in New York


Buildings will no longer be able to separate tenants based on income with different doors for rich and poor residents, thanks to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new rent regulations, which passed last week. Buildings with segregated entrances, or “poor doors,” as they’ve been bluntly named by housing activists, a few city government officials, and of course, the media, initially came to fruition under a legal loophole that gave developers subsidies for providing affordable units in larger existing properties. 

Developers, who enjoyed these tax breaks under 2009’s Inclusionary Housing Program, erred on the side of caution when it came to mixing low-income residents with Manhattan’s condo-dwelling milieu, by differentiating certain building entrances based on resident’s income. The practice predictably sparked the ire of housing advocates, who have been laboring along with mayor to dismantle this tactic since last year.

But as per a small provision packaged in a lengthier series of rent regulations passed by the de Blasio administration, “poor doors,” are officially out of business. The New York Post reports that “Mayor Bill de Blasio inserted the reform last May into his plan for the tax program, called 421-A,” a bill that called for a large restructuring of NYC housing policy, including a large expansion of affordable units across the city.

The demise of “poor doors” is welcome news to a city beleaguered with growing inequality, but also signals that the de Blasio administration is doing a lot to address housing reform–an issue that isn’t going away anytime soon. The number of affordable housing applications usually surges when units are auctioned off in larger, newer buildings. The New York Times reported last April that “10 lotteries have been held for 698 units that received about 486,000 applications,” citywide.

While the fight for more affordable units isn’t over, other city government officials couldn’t be more happy about the institutional ban on “poor doors.” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer told the Post, “Buildings that segregate entrances for lower-income and middle-class tenants are an affront to our values.”

Follow Sam Blum on Twitter @Blumnessmonster 


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