As anyone who’s ever lived in New York City (or heard of Jimmy McMillan) can tell you: the rent is too damn high.
It’s particularly bad in Manhattan, where this author once paid well over half of her take-home pay to live with a roommate in a fourth-floor walk-up on the Upper West Side–sometimes without water, and usually with mice.
So in an effort to cash in on some of that financial stress, one developer has applied for millions in tax breaks and air rights from the city in exchange for including over 50 low-income units in a luxury apartment complex along Riverside Boulevard, reports the New York Post.
Sounds like a sweet deal? Here’s the kicker: the low-income tenants will have to use a separate entrance to the building than the one used by wealthier residents. The affordable housing will also be serviced by a separate elevator and maintenance company, and be blocked off from the market-rate condos overlooking the water, despite sharing the same building.
“My immediate reaction was, ‘This is reprehensible,’” said New York State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, who represents Manhattan’s Upper West Side, on NewsNation Monday. “Why would they do this? What is the need to segregate low-income working-class people from the wealthy? And there is no need in my mind.”
Under the developer Extell’s plans, low-income units will go for $845 a month for a studio, $908 a month for a one-bedroom, and $1,099 for a two-bedroom–a great deal in comparison to the one-bedrooms that sell for over $1 million in the luxury building next door. In exchange for this “inclusionary housing,” said Rosenthal, Extell is asking for 421a tax credits–breaks given to developers who include affordable housing in market-rate buildings–and massive air rights.
But the deal isn’t worth the separate-but-equal mentality, argued Rosenthal.
“That has no place in the 21st century, especially on the Upper West Side, which is a bastion of progressivism and always has been,” said Rosenthal, adding that many of her constituents agreed with her.
“They think it’s horrible, and they think the developer should revise his plans and integrate the low-income units with the other units, which actually has been done throughout the city,” she said. “I think that because there’s been a public outcry, the developer will probably come to the table.”