Please Enter Through The ‘Poor Door’: Manhattan Building Creates Separate Entrance For Low-Income Residents

A Manhattan building is creating controversy over their use of a “poor door” which was installed to separate the low-income residents from the luxury residents on the other side. The Extell’s Lincoln Square Tower building is a 33-story building in Manhattan that features 55 units for low-income families that start at $833 per month for a studio apartment. However, the same building also houses 219 river-facing units that start at $1.3 million. Before building the low-income units, the building received permission from the city to install a “poor door” which would separate the low-income tenants from the more wealthy residents in the prime water-facing units.

The Daily Mail reports that the Extell Lincoln Square building’s “poor door” has resulted in a change to city’s Property Tax Exemption Program. The Extell building offered up 55 units in its luxury building where units go for prices starting at $1.3 million to low-income families as a means to take advantage of New York City’s 421-A Property Tax Exemption Program. This program gives residential buildings millions of dollars worth of tax breaks for offering “low cost” residency options to the city’s low-income families. The Extell building owners were also given the perk of being allowed to create a larger property by being deemed an “affordable housing” option in the community.

However, before allowing the 55 new low-income tenants into the building, the Extell building received permission from the city to build a separate entrance for the 55 low-income residents. With the addition of the door that separates the poor from the luxury residents, the building also cut off access to the lobby, bowling alley, movie theater, and various other perks afforded to the more wealthy clients. In fact, it was noted that the low-income residents are required to enter through an entrance that is located in a back alley of the building.

The units are bare bones as well. Once entering through the back alley “poor door,” tenants are greeted by no one, unlike their wealthy counterparts, who get a doorman. Instead, the residents enter studio and two bedroom apartments without dishwashers. The “poor” residents are then given access to an unfinished laundry room and a bicycle storage closet. The two gyms, courtyard, lobby, pool, movie theater, and bowling alley are all off-limits to the lower income residents. However, those in the 219 river-facing units have full access to the entire building, complete with doorman and numerous amenities.

According to the New York Post, despite living in the same building, the rich residents have a different address than the poor residents, with the rich officially living at 50 Riverside Blvd., while the poor are denoted as residing at 40 Riverside Blvd. The Extell Lincoln Square Tower “poor door” has caused such a fuss that the city has re-worded the Property Tax Exemption Program to denote that buildings taking advantage of the millions in tax breaks must offer the same entrance to “market rate units” as they do to the low-income units.

It was also noted that 90,000 people had applied for the 52-units. Therefore, many claim the ones who scored the prized residence can’t complain too much about the separate entrance as 89,950 other people would love to take their place. To apply for the units, a single person could make no more than $35,000 per year, with a family-of-four making no more than $50,000 per year.

What do you think about the Extell Lincoln Square Tower requiring low-income residents to use a different entrance than their rich clients? If they are taking advantage of tax breaks for providing low-income units, should the residents be required to offer the same entrance door? Or would more low income housing options be available if resident buildings could offer two access points? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

[Image via Shutterstock/ Jon Bilous]