Warning About Social Housing ‘Separate-But-Equal’ Plans That Aren’t

A brick walkway between modern glass and concrete high-rises
One Tower Bridge, a swanky 'mixed income' riverside development in London, UK. The 'mixed' part is more notional than actual here.

Public Private Partnership ‘mixed income’ construction projects have been generally considered a success. Their biggest drawback is often that they lack enough units of truly affordable social housing in the mix. When resources and facilities are shared and equally accessible to all, regardless of income, there seems to be a reasonable cross-class harmony. Certainly successful mixed income social housing in cities like Vienna indicate so.

For whatever reasons, a housing authority or association or city council might find it attractive to build separate buildings for segments of the housing mix — a ‘poor’ building for all the social housing residents, for example. As we might expect, Britain has created a fair share of such buildings, the Brits having a worldwide reputation as snobs.

Trouble is, all being part of the same project, and presumably all entitled to equal access to facilities, what happens when a corner-cutting developer does not provide equal access to play space? Well now! After reading the following article and rolling your eyes several times, it’s overly easy to imagine that the developers of public private mixed income projects have set themselves up to be manufacturers and merchants of prejudice.

There is a cautionary tale here for city councils in any country enamoured with the idea of mixed income developments. If you’re going to experiment with public private spaces, equal access to facilities across the board can produce simple, satisfactory results. For those wanting to pay for a separate entrance (No! No! Not the Poor Door!) or gated gardens unlocked by a high end credit card, or enforced absence of urchins galloping down the corridors. . . . well . . . perhaps encourage them to go someplace else?

Read more in The Guardian: Social housing tenants warned of ‘play ban’ for children in London site’s shared spaces

P.S. in case you didn’t catch it at first, the social housing brats were being denied the opportunity to run riot in their OWN building corridors.