It's amazing how government bureaucracy and over-regulation can seriously screw things up for the people forced to live under the laws designed to "protect" them. For example, one law in New York City having to do with affordable housing has led one developer to legally create what many are calling a "poor door."
Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration is under fire for approving a building for mixed-use residence -- about 20 percent of the 33-story skyscraper will be low-income housing, while the rest will rent or sell for market value. The problem? The affordable units will be grouped together in one area, and will have its own separate entrance. Talk about separate but equal.
Civil rights attorney Randolph McLaughlin called the building-within-a-building design "disgraceful," and called out the developers. "To permit developers or encourage them to create separate and unequal buildings and take tax credits and benefits from the city," he said, "I think that's a constitutional violation."
The whole thing stems from a 2009 law signed by then Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who sought to offer "tax breaks and more space in exchange for building affordable housing either in the building itself or close by." The idea was to give poorer families an opportunity to live in a new building, and have access to better schools for their children.
Let's just completely set aside the fact that it's sort of completely and totally unfair that people are getting handouts from the government to live in luxury apartments in New York City, which is just a pipe dream for many.
Back to the issue at hand. Private property is private property, and a very legal form of discrimination is the abilty to pay. There's nothing wrong with that. It's so wrong to refuse to sell something to someone because they're the wrong gender or color or whatever, but everyone has the right to refuse to sell something to someone who has no ability to pay for it.
Thanks to government entitlements, these lower income residents do have the ability to afford to live in a luxury apartment building. And if they can afford to live there (whether by their own money or Uncle Sam's), they have every right to use the front door. Anything less is pure discrimination, and harkens back to the days of Jim Crow laws.
More from The Stir: New York City Apartments Are About to Get Even Smaller
If these hoity-toity rich people didn't want to disdain themselves from mingling with the poor people in the halls, they should have lobbied against a law that would give such broad entitlements to the poor.
But I guess it's one thing to say they want to help the disadvantaged, and another entirely to actually live with them.
Do you think the subsidized housing residents should be forced to use a "poor door"?
Image via Inhabitat Blog/Flickr