Separate entrances for the rich and poor? New York City says yes. This is not a joke.
Manhattan has increasingly become a billionaire’s playground and the income inequality capital of America. In an effort to bring more affordable housing to the tony borough, the city allows developers to build larger projects if they also provide some low-income housing.
And so, one developer of an Upper West Side skyscraper was approved for 33 stories and 219 units, of which 55 will be affordable units overlooking the street. Those renting or buying market-value apartments will have views of the waterfront.
So far so good. With great wealth comes a great apartment. We all accept that.
However, this developer went further. It sought, and was granted, a separate “poor door.” The building will feature a separate entrance for affordable housing tenants, who make 60 percent or less than the median income.
Most of the wealthy residents will be white. Most of the low-income residents will be people of color.
And so, segregation rears its ugly head again. Or, more accurately in the case of housing, it never really left us. While New York City admirably creates housing integration with high- and low-end earners living in the same building, it now shields the rich from any possible icky interactions with their poor neighbors on the short walk from sidewalk to elevator.
We need more interaction, not less
What exactly is the problem with the rich having to use the same entry as their working class neighbors?
Poverty isn’t contagious. And some of the best people I’ve known have been low income folks: teachers, firefighters, those who devote their lives to activism and nonprofit work.
Some of the most obnoxious people I’ve ever met are very wealthy: big law firm partners, hedge fund managers, trust fund kids with their astonishing sense of entitlement.
Of course there’s kindness and cruelty in every group, regardless of skin color or bank account. People you want to strangle for their nonexistent social skills, and those who take a moment to smile, say hello and remember your name.
What’s most repulsive about the city’s approval of the separate entrances is the implication that it’s an affront to the rich to have to walk through a lobby alongside a neighbor who struggles to make ends meet. Don’t we need more interaction with people who are different from us, not less?
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Avvo.