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How to spot anti-homeless architecture (and what to do about it)

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Public spaces should be open to everyone. This is usually what the word “public” means. But as more and more people become homeless due to the incredibly high cost of living, the definition of public space is shrinking and deliberately excluding them. We do this through buildings. This makes it uncomfortable or impossible to rest in public.

Hostile architecture (or hostile urban design) is the practice of designing public spaces to discourage or impede certain behaviors (usually sleeping, sitting, and/or skateboarding). This allows designers to intentionally exclude certain types of people, especially homeless people and, to a lesser extent, teenagers, from certain areas. In fact, hostile architecture is so widely used to target homeless people that many of the most common examples are now called “anti-homeless architecture.” Here’s how to find it:

What is “anti-homeless architecture”?

Anti-homeless architecture can be incredibly obvious, but it’s often designed to provide at least some degree of plausible denial. A segmented bench is the most common example. These “armrests” practically make it impossible for anyone to lie down (and many fat people can’t sit comfortably). In some cases, even if the bench is not divided, it may be slanted, stepped, curved, or otherwise unable to lie on. Sometimes people intentionally place decorative design elements such as trees, rocks, and planters in places where people camp. Even useful infrastructure like bike racks can be used in bad ways.

However, anti-homeless architecture can also be more outspoken about its intentions. This is for flat surfaces, especially under bridges with spikes, rough rocks, etc. Forbidden corners and fenced heat grate Send a more clear message to anyone looking for a place to sit. In some cases, companies discourage camping by: flashing bright lights and/or ring the alarm loudMusic can also be used for anti-homeless purposes. In 2019, at the Waterfront Lake Pavilion in West Palm Beach, Florida, I yelled ‘Baby Shark’ and ‘It’s Rain Tacos’ all night long Don’t let anyone sleep there.

These are just a few of many examples. Basically, if a space looks, feels, or sounds like it was intentionally designed to make rest impossible, it probably was.

Why adversarial architecture sucks

The first and most important problem with adversarial architecture is that it is inhumane. It is utterly cruel to prevent someone from sitting or lying down in public, and even worse when there is no other place to do it. seem to see it as a legitimate way to deal with the homelessness crisis. it’s not. Homelessness is caused by a lack of housing supply, rising rents and stagnant wages. Throwing boulders on sidewalks does not solve these problems at all. It just pushes people into even more precarious living conditions.

Not only the brutality, but also the anti-homeless construction is incredibly expensive.For example, last year in Portland, Oregon The City Council has approved a $44 million public safety spending bill allocating $500,000. Install an anti-homeless bench at the south end of Laurelhurst Park. So far, these benches have not materialized. This is probably due to public backlash against the notion of spending his $500,000 on the bench. But it’s a great example of how much cities are willing to spend to keep certain residents out of public spaces. This begs the question: If homelessness is such a big problem, why not spend money on housing and services instead of costly punitive measures that only make the problem worse?

The answer is that, at least in the United States, many believe homelessness is bad. their Whether it’s business, property values, or sentiment, they pester city councilors and mayors to “do something.” Politicians are often not willing to oblige. That means more camp sweeps, more arrests, and more anti-homeless urban design.

what you can do about it

If you notice an increase in anti-homeless construction in your area, can In other words, complain. Complaints can approve and even close these projects. Identify who is responsible for a particular feature: Who requested it and why? Who approved it and why? Who installed it and how much? Then let them know how you feel about it, ideally in writing. For even more impact, get your friends and neighbors to complain too.

You should also avoid businesses that not only install hostile designs upfront, but also contribute to fighting homelessness in your area. Many business owners proudly spread their cruel views at every opportunity, especially on social media, so it’s pretty easy to understand their position. You can also consider joining a housing advocacy group. The current surge in anti-homeless urban design may be relatively young, but the problems they’re exacerbating certainly aren’t. increase. If you really want to help, start there.

For those who already own a home, all this doubles (or triples). Homeowners and neighborhood associations wield tremendous power in local politics, and not always in a good way. If you don’t belong to the “damn” worldview, it’s very important to let people know. Especially to the HOA bastard.

How to spot anti-homeless architecture (and what to do about it)

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