New York mayor Bill de Blasio under pressure over 'poor doors'

New buildings increasingly built with separate entrances for rich and poor residents

Pressure continues to mount on Mayor Bill de Blasio, who took office less than a year ago on a promise to nudge New York City back towards its more egalitarian roots, to put an end to the so-called “poor doors” built into new residential buildings, which segregate rich owners from their not-so-rich renting neighbours.

This will be the arrangement at 40 Riverside Boulevard, a new development on the Upper West Side which is part luxury apartments with price tags rising to $20 million, and part affordable housing units that will rent for as little as $850 a month. Those buying will have Hudson River views and a flashy entrance with a doorman. The renters will have no river vistas - and they will also have to use a separate entrance.

Now nearly completed, the development has been the spark behind the poor door controversy that has been raging for most of the summer. It isn’t the only new residential building in New York, however, where a kind of entrance-rights apartheid has been established. Another is the Edge, a glassy tower on the waterfront in Brooklyn, which also has a mix of market-price luxury flats and low-income rentals

The practice is actually encouraged under regulations enacted by Mr De Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, that were designed to spur private developers to help the city overcome a shortage of affordable housing. Developers win zoning concessions and tax subsidies from the city if they include some affordable housing in new projects and provide separate entrances for those who occupy them.

There are deep divisions of opinion even among affordable housing advocates over whether banning the poor doors would actually be a good idea given that they have been important in making it palatable to private developers to include some quantity of affordable units in new luxury complexes.

However the visceral disgust that the poor doors continue to generate in some corners – an emotion clearly fed by a deeper fear that New York, and Manhattan in particular, is increasingly becoming a place for the very rich only and the rest of us might as well leave the island now – seems to be something that the de Blasio administration feels it can no longer ignore.

This was the message delivered to the New York Times this week. Alicia Glen, the deputy mayor for housing and economic development, said that a review would be taken forward this autumn and rules introduced banning separate entrances for poorer residents. “Walking into a building should not be any different based on income status,” Ms. Glen told the newspaper in an interview on its front page.

It remains to be seen if Mr de Blasio will also address other forms of discrimination in new mixed-income developments. At the Edge, for example, it isn’t only separate front doors that keep the rich and less rich residents apart, but also access to some of its amenities. Only owners of apartments are allowed to use its gym, for example. Those in its few low-income units are welcome to run along the river.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: ICT Infrastructure Manager

£27000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Edinburgh city centre Scho...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£17900 - £20300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An enthusiastic Marketing Assis...

Recruitment Genius: Chef / Managers

£24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This contract caterer is proud ...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'