Recently, affordable housing residents of the Stonehenge Village complex, which is located in Manhattan’s Upper West side, have a social conflict with the landlord, Stonehenge Partners Inc. The landlord allowed market-rate tenants to use a new gym for free and threw rent-stabilized residents out of the gym because it was planned to provide public services for market-rate tenants. Why did the landlord do this?
Rent-stabilized residents are people who pay cheaper rents by living in affordable housing. Therefore, they are always protected from increase in rent. In other words, the landlord can increase only a small percentage of their rents. Most rent-stabilized residents in the Stonehenge Village complex are from older generations. Consequently, the landlord cannot make a lot of money from them. On the other hand, market-rate tenants pay their rents based on market prices. Thus, the landlord gets the benefit of increasing their rent payments because it usually demands their credits and higher interest rates.
Even though the landlord built a new gym for high-rent-tenants, it should allow rent-stabilized residents to use it because its demand has no legal basis. When rent-stabilized residents pay their own rent, they have rights to use it and do whatever they want. The landlord does not have a right to regulate them. However, I cannot understand how private developers could say “attracting higher-paying residents with amenities helps make it feasible to incorporate affordable housing in highly desirable areas.” It seems like the landlord justifies this discrimination in order to retain their affordable housing.
The landlord’s discrimination may lead to social segregation. When the private community treats residents depending on one’s economic and social status unfairly, these treatments will exacerbate social conflicts between the rich and the poor. According to Contemporary Urban Planning by John M. Levy, “The private community and particularly the gated community are fundamentally Balkanizing and destroy a more wide-spread sense of community is held by many.[…]higher-status and higher income people are increasingly separating themselves from the larger culture”(112). The landlord will gradually changes its community to a gated community, which is the basic cause of Balkanizing American society.It should realize that Balkanizing society will aggravate social conflicts between the rich and the poor.
Clearly, social segregation cannot offer any benefits to providing affordable housing and maximizing public benefits. Furthermore, in order to create a cooperative society, the landlord should hold an open meeting to discuss what the tenant president, Jean Green Dorsey, suggested about using local amenities without any restrictions and reach a reasonable agreement.
“NYC Board: High-Rent-Tenants-Only Gym May Be Discriminatory.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 3 Apr. 2015. Web. 12 Apr. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/04/03/us/ap-us-apartments-forbidden-amenities.html?_r=0>.