NYC 'Poor Door' Makes Sure Rich Never Have To Deal With Poor Neighbors

Lauren Burgoon
This plan doesn't even pretend to be 'separate but equal' as low-income renters must use back door in alley.

It's no secret income inequality is a huge problem, especially in cities like New York. And now it's no secret that luxury apartment builders want to separate the riff raff from the rich.

Poor tenants will be forced to use a back alley entrance and elevator and barred from amenities like the the pool at a new Upper West Side building. Critics are calling it a "poor door."

Segregation is alive and well in New York and even has city backing. Extell Development Co. got approval from New York for its plan and is getting huge tax breaks for including 55 affordable housing apartments along with 219 luxury units. 

It's hard to know what's worse: that this is happening or that it's not so unusual. Developers chase after the tax breaks to fund the high-rises, and it's usually minority tenants who end up being treated as less-than in their own buildings.

Don't blame us, Extell execs rushed to say, the city requires a separate entrance in zoning laws. Yes, but only because the developer is building the low-income units as a "building segment" instead of just integrating them into the overall building.

One frank quote from a Toll Brothers executive to The Real Deal captures the motivation behind the poor door. 

"No one ever said that the goal was full integration of these populations. So now you have politicians talking about that, saying how horrible those back doors are," David Von Spreckelsen, senior vice president at Toll Brothers, told the blog.

"I think it’s unfair to expect very high-income homeowners who paid a fortune to live in their building to have to be in the same boat as low-income renters, who are very fortunate to live in a new building in a great neighborhood."

So take heart, low-income renters of 40 Riverside Drive. When you're sneaking into your own building through the back door, just remember how fortunate you are.