Poor Doors/Rich Doors: A Moral Conundrum

Councils are desperate to get more affordable homes built and they are looking to the private sector developers to include on-site affordable homes as part of their developments in order to do so.  In the 50s, with the population of the UK being a fraction of what is it today, we were building almost three times the number of new homes than now. 

Some developments have affordable housing on site and others are off-site or dealt with by means of a commuted payment to the Council.

The larger developments have the affordable homes as part of the overall development and here is the dilemma. Should they have their own entrance door ‘poor door’ or should they share the same entrance as the rest of the private development that, in some cases, could be highly prestigious and where properties could sell for many thousand of pounds per square foot?

Although it is a laudable aim to encourage social integration this should not be done at the expense of housing and the latter would be the casualty for such a social experiment. Let me explain why.

Human nature is what it is.  A prospective purchaser paying ‘top dollar’ for a prestigious development is not going to want a variety of prospective tenants having direct access to the same building which, to them, may be perceived as a security risk and at very least they would feel that the tenants would not value the amenities of the building as would a proud owner.

Personally, I think even with different entrances a tenant of the affordable section would think they are in ‘seventh heaven’ to have the opportunity to live in a lovely building at a fraction of  the market price, and, if going through a separate entrance is the only downside it is a moral price worth paying.

The newly appointed socialistic Mayor of New York, Mr de Blassio, is riding high on his ‘hobby horse’ that ‘Poor Doors’ should not exist but all this politically judicious, new fangled, socialism will undoubtedly lead to less developments being built since prospective purchasers will not pay the price if you do not offer them exclusivity and the overall revenue is the key driving force to make the development viable.

As it is we build less than half the new and affordable homes we require and any initiative that attenuates the supply of these homes is morally bankrupt.

Forced social integration is the ‘thin end of the wedge’ and, before you look around, you will have a version of Stalinism that, as we all know, has never worked in the world.  In the 60s local councils interspersed council houses that were built adjacent to wealthy districts in order to increase social integration.  I’m not sure that anyone would claim much success here since all that happened was the creation of wealthy and poor ghettos existing in close proximity to each other.

Whilst ‘Poor Doors’ is an unfortunate term if it provides access to more housing in the public sector then it is serving a very good purpose.