Councilmember Introduces Anti-“Poor Door” Legislation

Councilmember Corey Johnson at a Stated Meeting of the New York City Council. Image credit: William Alatriste/New York City Council

Councilmember Corey Johnson at a Stated Meeting of the New York City Council. Image credit: William Alatriste/New York City Council

Bill would prohibit restricting affordable unit tenants’ access to residential building amenities.  On March 31, 2015, Councilmember Corey Johnson introduced Intro 731 at the stated meeting of the New York City Council.  The bill would amend the New York City administrative code to prohibit discriminating against “any person or group of persons” in the use of amenities in their building because they occupy an affordable housing unit in the building.  The bill would also extend the prohibition to grounds of race, creed, color, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, partnership status, alienage or citizenship status, actual or potential presence of children, or of any lawful source of income.

The bill would require developers and building managers to provide equal access to building amenities for all tenants.  If building amenities are made available to market-rate tenants for a fee, then the same availability must be extended to affordable unit tenants.

In a statement, Councilmember Johnson said the purpose of the bill was to ensure all tenants would be treated with respect and dignity.  “Many New Yorkers were shocked to learn that it is perfectly legal for a developer to hoist a sign saying that affordable housing tenants are not welcome to enter a gym, pool or green space in their own building.”  Councilmember Antonio Reynoso, a co-sponsor of the bill and co-author of the Quality Housing Act, said “No one should feel ashamed of living in an affordable housing apartment.  Denying tenants the right to use onsite amenities does just that.  The owners of these buildings are reverting back to the days of segregation, which has no place in our progressive city.”  Co-sponsor Councilmember Mark Levine spoke of a building in his district that opened a gym and publicly limited access to market-rate tenants.  “As shocking as the ‘market-rate only’ sight was to the sensibilities of most New Yorkers, it was an even bigger shock to learn that it was legal.  This legislation corrects that injustice and guarantees critical protections against discrimination for tenants under New York City’s Human Rights Code.”

City Council:  Stated Meeting Int 0731-2015 (Mar. 31, 2015).

By: Michael Twomey (Michael is a CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2014.)

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