New York City has banned “poor doors,” a controversial practice in which real estate developers build separate entrances for poor and wealthy tenants.
The real estate game in New York City is notoriously complicated, filled as it is with loopholes, tax breaks, and backchannel deals. Historically, inclusionary zoning laws offered private developers incentives to build affordable housing: create apartments for low-income residents, pile more market-rate condos onto a project. But that inspired some developers to build separate entrances for wealthy and poor tenants, sparking accusations of class segregation.
Now, the two-door rule has finally come to an end after the New York senate passed a tax bill with a clause banning separate entrances that New York City mayor Bill de Blasio inserted.
New York City councilwoman Helen Rosenthal said the following in a Guardian report: “I think that the state legislature and the city are now doing the right thing in terms of treating people in every socioeconomic group with the same level of respect and dignity.”
In 2013, the media caught hold of the “poor door” practice and lambasted the policy, bringing attention to the law. Moreover, the same policy made it okay to bar access to building amenities, like pools and communal spaces, that market-rate tenants could freely use.
Banning such degrading and humiliating practices is a step in the right direction, but poor doors are only a symptom of the overall ills in affordable housing policy. As critic Karrie Jacobs wrote in Co.Design last year, it’s time for a sweeping overhaul of the whole system.