Public advocate urges de Blasio to ban ‘poor doors’

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Letitia James. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
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Public Advocate Letitia James said on Friday that approving separate entrances for the low-income residents of luxury buildings cuts against the defining promise of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration.

“You know, this administration was elected into office based on equality, one rule of law, one New York City," James said at a press conference outside City Hall. "It really strikes at the core of that principle, and this principle should not just be talking points, but should be a principle in practice and in fact. And that is not the case today. In fact, this administration vowed to look at the zoning laws, but the mayor’s housing plans says that it will continue to allow this kind of segregation, which we as a society abhor.”

Last week, the city gave final approval to a 33-story luxury building on the West Side which includes a so-called “poor door” for low-income residents. 

City Hall spokesman Wiley Norvell said the building, at 40 Riverside Boulevard, was already coming online when the new administration took over in January.

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“This specific project was given a green light by the previous administration and had multiple stories already built by the time we walked in the door,” Norvell said in a statement. “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.”

At the press conference, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said, “Nobody in this administration wants two doors.”

James said the American Planning Association urged the mayor to change the zoning laws “to require affordable units in all residential developments and I would urge the administration to do just that. Because income segregation has no place in a progressive city and income segregation just leads to more disparities.”

“If we are to strike at the core of inequality in our city, then the first policy that must go which is the policy that allows a poor door in New York City,” James said. “I urge the administration to remove poor doors and to remove this policy from our inclusionary zoning law, today.”