The Dream Revisited
Discussion 12: The Poor Door Debate

Discussion 12: The Poor Door Debate

March 2015

The twelfth discussion weighs the controversy about "poor doors" in the context of a debate over the costs and benefits of mixed-income housing in high-cost markets.

Essay

  • There are Worse Things in Housing Policy than Poor Doors

    by Edward Glaeser

    The argument for integrating at the building level is harder because of an absence of evidence. Certainly, there is abundant evidence on the downsides of city-wide segregation, but it less clear that we need poorer people living in every fancy building in the city.  Before expanding a program of on-site affordability, it would make more sense to do a serious evaluation of its benefits.

Discussants

  • Housing Priorities: Quality is More Important than the Number of Entrances

    by Carol Lamberg

    Many affordable developments in New York are located next to luxury buildings. Condominiums and rental buildings have separate entrances. Hotels and condos also have separate doors. So what's the big deal?

  • Separate but Equal Redux: Resolving and Transcending the Poor Door Conundrum

    by Mark L. Joseph

    In his essay opening this discussion, Professor Glaeser acknowledges the “jarring” nature of the existence of poor doors and concedes that perhaps they should be banned.  But, true to the eminent economist that he is, he steers quickly away from squishy issues of social justice and racial equity and focuses on elucidating why the question of poor doors, and indeed the whole notion of the “in-kind transfer” of affordable housing, is a complex and problematic policy approach.  He makes several points with which I agree but ultimately disregards some fundamental realities that make his predilection for the silver bullet of “cash transfers” ultimately unconvincing.

  • Inclusionary Housing Delivers Diverse Neighborhoods and a Better New York

    by Ben Beach

    For reasons set out below, I think cities should strive for economic and racial diversity across all neighborhoods. Thus I appreciate Professor Glaeser noting the “abundant evidence on the downsides of city-wide segregation.” However, in weighing what policy approach best enhances freedom for low-income people, Professor Glaeser fails to account for important benefits of inclusionary housing strategies.

More Discussions