The Fuss About ‘Poor Doors’

side photo by london road is licensed under CC BY 2.0
UK architectural prize winning Goldsmith Street of 'Poor Buildings' in Norwich, UK

Okay, we were as aghast as everybody else that ‘poor’ doors had been installed in a publicly subsidized New York City building so that rich folks didn’t need to interact with their less wealthy neighbours.

On reflection though, some wealthy folk have the both the cash and the compulsion to go to fancy restaurants, while the rest of us (as well as grand exception to the rule, President Donald Trump) dine in the fast food dust. Aren’t members of capitalist society perfectly fine with that?

Does a government tax credit turn a housing project into a micro-socialist enclave? Are free market ‘laws’ upended so that everyone is due the same rights and benefits?

Lovely idea maybe, reinforced by studies that show ‘healthy’ communities can indeed prosper in mixed income projects. But there is also evidence that people in similar income brackets to their neighbours also prosper.1

Are we putting dreams of mixed income communities ahead of focussing on building for the thousands of households with low incomes that are needed in so many places? And if we’re going to pursue in this dream, why enter partnerships with developers who ignored the provisions previously?

If ‘poor buildings’ help put people in the housing they desperately need, why not poor buildings? Social housing has often been a collection of ‘poor buildings,’ hasn’t it?

Opinions on this subject vary considerably. Explore one of them focusing on New York City affordable housing projects in  City Has Gone From Allowing ‘Poor Doors’ To Permitting ‘Poor Buildings’


  1. Try: Public Housing Residents Want It Just As It Is, Not ‘Improved’ By Developer