Poor door

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A 'poor door' is a separate entrance in a housing development for those living in less expensive apartments. The term was coined by the local news site West Side Rag in August 2013, where it was used to describe a new development on the Upper West Side of Manhattan that had separate entrances for market-rate and affordable-housing tenants.[1]

The practice, which may also include refuse, postal and parking facilities,[2] has been criticized for segregating the rich from the poor. Oliver Wainwright, writing in The Guardian in July 2014, presented a more nuanced view however, commenting that such attempts at segregation are not new, and that there would not be the same outrage if the housing was in separate buildings, nor would social housing tenants wish to pay the high service charges needed to provide the luxurious facilities sought by wealthier tenants. He quoted Michael Edwards, senior lecturer at the Bartlett school of planning at University College London, who said: "they [poor doors] are a symptom, not the problem".[3]


A 2014 investigation by The Guardian noted a growing trend in London to have a separate entrance in new housing developments. Legislation requires that new blocks in many locations must include an element of "affordable housing" if they are to gain planning permission, and it has become more common for such developments to include a separate entrance for those tenants, nicknamed a "poor door".[2]

The Mayor of London at the time, Boris Johnson, ruled out a ban on "poor doors", but said he would "discourage their use whenever possible".[4]

United States[edit]

In August 2014, The Independent noted that the "poor door" trend had spread to Washington DC, with an apartment complex at U and 14th Streets set to be redeveloped, with all of the social housing tenants put in a separate wing, accessed from a different street.[5]

A 28 July 2014 episode of The Colbert Report included an item about poor doors. Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York, has indicated that he will ban them.[6]

The London Evening Standard reported on 29 August 2014 that the Manhattan apartment block at 40 Riverside Boulevard had been split into two with apartments costing up to $25 million facing the Hudson River and cheaper apartments let at $800 and $1,100 per month in a smaller attached building with a separate entrance. Manhattan Borough president Gale Brewer was reported to have claimed that "The two door system is an affront to New Yorkers' belief in fairness and diversity in our city." The Standard explained that the practice had become possible during the administration of former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg who had changed the city's zoning rules to allow developers to build larger buildings than normally allowed in a zone as long as they build a quantity of social housing too.[7]

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