nytLogoDirector of the National Initiative on Mixed-Income Communities, Dr. Mark L. Joseph, commented on a growing practice of amenity exclusion in the New York Times article “What’s next, a Bouncer?” on May 16, 2014. The separation of amenities is becoming more frequent in New York City’s apartment buildings where there is a mix of high-income, market-rate tenants and low-income, rent-regulated tenants. Developers argue they are building amenities to attract market-rate renters as justification for prohibiting subsided residents from using the services. Joseph is quoted, “There’s a slippery slope here. What if the next amenity to be created and kept exclusive is a snack bar, or a reading room, or a business and technology center?”

Developers have also started building separate lobbies for affordable and market-rate residents. The NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy provided data showing not only do rent-regulated tenants earn less, they are likely to be elderly and minorities.

Joseph’s mixed-income research in Chicago has shown as soon as you begin segregating people with differential access to parts of the environment, it can lead to marginalization, stigmatization and second-class service and amenities. He recommends developers keep the common amenities, lobbies and entryways and invest more proactively and heavily in community building to guide residents toward shared expectations and accountability for common space. Though there has been little evidence of social connections and social mobility through mixed-income development, Joseph’s argument is that we haven’t done it well enough yet. Separating the incomes within the mixed-income developments is giving up on the possibility of more than just shared residence in improving communities – which is an improvement, but not upward mobility.

Share The Story