The180

In defense of "poor doors"

Mixed social and market housing developments were meant integrate residents from all income levels. But critics object to some building designs, which have separate entrances for social housing clients, dubbed "poor doors." Michael Faithful says separate entrances don't hurt, they help.
Plans for a new Vancouver building include 28 units of social housing and 63 condominiums. (West End Neighbours)

Mixed social and market housing developments were meant to be the great equalizers, allowing integration of families and residents from all income levels in Canada's urban centres.

But recently a controversy from south of the border is causing some people to question whether these developments do more to segregate their residents than unite them.

The issue is the design of many of these buildings, some of which have separate entrances for social housing clients.

Activists in New York have dubbed them "poor doors," and opposition to the dual entrances has now begun to surface in Toronto and Vancouver.

But Michael Faithful says, while he hates the name "poor doors," that actual separate entrances don't ghettoise him, or the fellow residents of his social housing development next to a high end Vancouver condo.

Michael lives in the Doug Story Apartments, which is part of the same building as L'Hermitage, a boutique hotel and luxury condominium development. While the main entrance to the building has a concierge and a luxurious fountain, the entrance to the Doug Story Apartments is down the block, smaller, and discreet.

I don't feel, and I'm sure most of my fellow tenants don't feel that we are being segregated or stigmatized by the fact that we have a separate entrance.- Michael Faithful, Resident at the Doug Story Apartments in Vancouver

To Michael, developers who plan to build social housing as part of a housing development should be supported, regardless of whether there's a separate entrance.

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