In response to the public outrage caused by news of a “poor door” entrance designated for affordable housing tenants at an Upper East Side luxury condo development, Mayor de Blasio is publicly rebuking landlord practices that segregate tenants based on income. The mayor’s administration has announced plans to put an end to such policies by making changes to zoning codes in the fall of 2014, but the process is likely to take a year to come into effect.
Disturbingly reminiscent of the racial segregation that plagued the United States through much of the 20th century, New York’s poor door debacle is a symptom of the class system issues present in New York’s housing market. Similar challenges reported by subsidized housing tenants include being unable to access gyms, community rooms and other building amenities offered to their market rate-paying neighbors.
Media frenzy aside, gentrification, the rise of ultra-luxury apartments, and the displacement of veteran residents who have been priced out of both rental and home-buying markets are not new conversations.
In some cases, policies that are meant to be part of the solution are being abused. Many developers have taken advantage of the city’s Inclusionary Housing Program, which subsidizes developers that dedicate a percentage of units to affordable rate tenants, because of a 2009 loophole that allowed them to provide said units with barriers or buildings off-site.
As the public waits for de Blasio’s actions to manifest, public officials are stepping up to the plate to regulate egregious tenant segregation practices. Next City reports that a bill is pending in City Council to legally protect tenants from discrimination whether they are applying for rent-regulated or market-rate apartments. Another bill, introduced by New York State Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, would fine landlords up to $25,000 for barring subsidized tenants from building amenities.
Via Next City