A year after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to ban the so-called “poor doors” in his city, the New York legislature passed a ban as part of a tax-break program for “poor doors” state-wide.
Q13, a Fox affiliate, reported earlier today that developers who were hoping to get a tax break by building “affordable housing” next door to luxury buildings can no longer install a “poor door” for the low-income tenants.
When The Poor Can’t Even Afford To Use The Poor Door
A “poor door” is separate entrance for tenants living in the less-expensive apartments of a housing development.
The “poor door” first appeared in London. Class insecurity is as much a feature of English culture as gun insecurity is in American; because of this, London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, ruled out a ban and instead promised to “discourage their use.”
From England, they spread across the Pond to Washington D.C., and from there, to New York City. In July of last year, a New York luxury condo caught heat after it built in a “poor door” for the low-income housing. The door also barred the tenants from other services available in the condo, like the gym.
There is an irony in calling that a “poor door,” however. The apartment complex in question wouldn’t accept tenants who make under $30,240 a year; the poverty line set by the federal government is $24,250. This means no poor people are actually going to be living in the apartments.
The usage of the door there and in other places still sparks outrage, and Mayor Bill de Blasio has stepped up to do what Mayor Boris Johnson refused to do: he issued a promise to ban the doors.
Closing The Poor Door
Mayor Bill de Blasio wasn’t the only one paying attention. The New York legislature passed a ban Thursday as part of the state’s renewed 421-a tax break program, and it was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
While the ban isn’t retroactive — it won’t affect housing that already exists — it will impact future construction.
This also shuts down a 2009 program created by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, which allowed the poor doors.
This is a start, but in the words of Michael Edwards, a senior lecturer at the Barrett School of Planning UCLA, poor doors are a “symptom.”
Of course these so-called ‘poor doors’ are shocking, but they are a symptom, not the problem. We’ve simply stopped building proper social housing, and until that’s addressed then fiddling around with front-door arrangements is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
Featured image via YouTube