The applications are in from New Yorkers trying to find high-quality, affordable housing in a new Upper West Side high-rise, even if it means they have to use a so-called “poor door.”
Plans that showed One Riverside Park with a separate entrance for tenants who live in subsidized units dominated headlines last year, along with the public outcry against the income-based segregation.
The developer, Extell, got approvals for the “poor door” prior to Mayor Bill de Blasio taking office, thanks to zoning laws the current mayor said he wants to change. City Hall spokesman Wiley Norvell told Next City editor Ariella Cohen last July, “The previous administration changed the law to enable this kind of development. We fundamentally disagree with that approach, and we are in the process of changing it to reflect our values and priorities. We want to make sure future affordable housing projects treat all families equitably.”
This week, Norvell told the New York Times, “We oppose so-called poor doors and will change the necessary rules so that when affordable housing is provided on-site, we will not allow separate entrances based on income.”
The Times reported that over 88,000 applications have been collected for the building’s 55 “affordable” units. The deadline was Monday.
Residents paying below-market-rate rents will have not only a separate entrance, but also an entirely separate address from the rest of the building. The units provide a view of the street while the 219 other units face the Hudson River. Renters will also be closed off from some of the high-end amenities offered for owners in the condominium portion of the building, such as the pool, private theater and bowling alley.
Despite the controversy, some affordable housing advocates say the emphasis should be not on separate entrances, but on the simple creation of more affordable housing. The “poor door” units at One Riverside Park range from $895 to $1,082 and are targeted toward those with household incomes between $30,240 and $50,340, while some of the condos in the building are going for around $25 million.
“I guess people like it,” said Gary Barnett, founder and president of Extell, told the Times. “It shows that there’s a tremendous demand for high-quality affordable housing in beautiful neighborhoods.”
Marielle Mondon is an editor and freelance journalist in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia City Paper, Wild Magazine, and PolicyMic. She previously reported on communities in Northern Manhattan while earning an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University.