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Separate Entrance For Poor People? (Real Estate Ramblings)

It's funny how our interests change once we start paying rent, isn't it?

This is an interesting article from Friday's New York Sun. I never read The Sun, but I saw the article over someone's shoulder on the bus on Friday morning and it looked interesting. (I managed to read most of it during the bus ride.)

It discusses a residential building to be built on and over the West-Park Presbyterian Church at W. 86th St. and Amsterdam. The building would have 50 affordable-housing rental units (for tenants aged 55 and over) and 27 market-rate condos. Sounds good so far, right? I mean, maybe it's sad that they're ripping down part of a 19th century red stone church to build residential units, but it seems necessary to save the rest of the church, and surely more affordable housing in Manhattan is a blessing! The catch? The renters and condo-owners are going to have separate entrances. They will live on entirely separate floors, and only condo-owners will have access to amenities like the gym, playroom, and media room. The title of the article is "Critics See Signs of Segregation In a Proposed West Side Tower," and it's pretty clear why. Without the separate entrances and separate floors, actually, I'm not sure that there would be much of a story. The final quote is, "a spokesman for New York Acorn, an affordable housing advocacy organization, Jonathan Rosen, said the proposal 'brings a type of social exclusion that really has no place in the city in this day and age.'"

First of all, what is he talking about? Social exclusion is the calling card of Manhattan! It's just usually the case that poor people are so socially excluded by rich people that the two groups hardly ever have to meet, I mean really meet (not be asked for money on the street or in the subway). In my neighborhood, for example, there are housing projects and expensive high-rises right across the street from each other. Do you think the tenants of the two buildings party together? Do their laundry together? No. Social exclusion is what happens when people of different social statuses (stati?) live in the same neighborhood or in abutting neighborhoods. It happens in New York all the time, and probably in other cities as well. So I'm not sure the proposal brings social exclusion as much as highlights existing social norms. I'm also not saying that social exclusion is okay, only that it is sort of inevitable in an economically stratified society such as ours. And if you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem. So I am part of the problem. Although, if you compare the salaries of all of my friends, from undergraduates and graduate students through i-bankers, my social circle(s) probably has (have) a wide range of incomes.

As far as the proposal itself goes, it seems reasonable that affordable-housing residents would not have access to the amenities that million-dollar condo owners do. Separate entrances, though, pisses me off and reeks of, I don't know--something. Segregation, I suppose. Disgusting.

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I am appalled at the idea of separate entrances for people based on any criteria other than from which direction they happen to be arriving.

I am also appalled that there is a restriction against the use of communal amenities by the subsidized housing population.

A less offensive way of paying for amenities is offering an optional charge (monthly?) which any resident could pay which would grant them access.

This seems to be designed to push as many offensive buttons as possible...
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