Defensive Architecture Keeping Poverty Unseen
February 20, 2015 8:29 AM   Subscribe

The spikes installed outside Selfridges in Manchester are the latest front in the spread of ‘defensive architecture’. Is such open hostility towards the destitute making all our lives uglier?
posted by ellieBOA (46 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
There have only been 2 or 3 nights in my entire life when I've had to sleep outside in moderately cold temperatures -- and even then with the aid of a sleeping bag. It's one of those experiences that I think everyone would benefit from. I had no idea that it would take so much out of me.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 8:39 AM on February 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


All I could think looking at those pictures was oh god oh god what if I tripped on them and fell on them.
posted by Nomiconic at 8:55 AM on February 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


It's worth reading the author's short essay about his own homelessness, which is linked in the article - he was working the whole time. It fills me with rage and hatred and reminds me - funnily enough- of this old nineties comic, The Angriest Dog In The World, about a dog who is so paralyzed with rage that he can neither move nor make noise. I would hit things if there were anything to hit.

During my homelessness, I showered at the public facilities in King’s Cross station at £3.50 (later rising to £5) a pop. I saved 20p coins all week and took my clothes to an expensive launderette on a Sunday. I estimate I spent around £2,000 on such basic hygiene during that time; much more than I needed for a deposit and first month’s rent. But I had no choice. I couldn’t afford for work to catch on. I woke up at six every morning, went out through a side alley, showered, shaved, dressed and came back pretending to “open up” for people waiting outside the building. Dissembling was my full time job; being ashamed my hobby.

I find nothing more disingenuous than rich MPs or celebrities experimenting on television to see whether they can live on a weekly amount of X or Y and conclude “gosh it’s very hard, but doable”. Such meaningless exercises ignore the cumulative effect of poverty; they never start from a position of empty food cupboards, looming debt, threadbare clothes and shoes with holes in them. They ignore the devastating financial effect that a visit to the dentist or a child’s birthday or one late charge can have. They also ignore the fundamental psychological difference of “I know this will be over in a week” as opposed to “this may never end; this may just get worse”.

posted by Frowner at 8:56 AM on February 20, 2015 [56 favorites]


To answer the question posed: Yes.
posted by josher71 at 8:59 AM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I honestly wonder how much longer it will take before governments just drop the other boot and simply make being poor/homeless a crime. Of course, it wouldn't be worded as such, but the end result would be the same.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:02 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


All I could think looking at those pictures was oh god oh god what if I tripped on them and fell on them.

Well. You and a capable lawyer could probably reap a sizeable return based on your physical and mental pain and suffering.
posted by notreally at 9:06 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


"In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread." --Anatole France, 1894
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:07 AM on February 20, 2015 [23 favorites]


I honestly wonder how much longer it will take before governments just drop the other boot and simply make being poor/homeless a crime.

The Norwegian Government just scrapped plans to make both begging and giving something to beggars a crime after an outcry.
posted by biffa at 9:16 AM on February 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's part of the narrative in the UK of the current government, of dividing the world into 'strivers and skivers' - that you're either a working family doing their bit to earn their way , or a skiver living the life of luxury on benefits never having to lift a finger. That if you're homeless, or out of work, or poor, or disabled or mentally ill etc etc it's largely your own fault and you just need to pull up on your bootstraps and all will be well.

It entirely ignores the whole swath of bad things that can happen to anybody. It ignores that the biggest chunk by far of the social security and benefits bill goes to pensioners - who of course, being a traditional voting bloc for the government, never get mentioned except to say how we're going to protect their benefits some more, whether they're individually rich or poor - and of the rest, the majority of claimants are actually in work already. It's just so poorly paid, we subsidise their wages rather than raise the minimum wage to a liveable one. A chunk of the rest are invisible unemployed, having been stuffed on 0-hours contracts or as self-employed, but are literally starving.

It entirely ignores the people at the very top, who are doing staggeringly well from the recovery - when THEY cheat on their taxes and squirrel it away in switzerland and they get their details handed over by a journalist, oh no, we don't prosecute them for tax fraud, we just ask them to pay up some of what of they owe and say no more about it, and the same goes for tax settlement with big companies that don't pay what they owe. Unlike the handful of benefit cheats who overclaim a tiny pittance, them we come down on like a ton of bricks and send to prison.

It's the politics of division. Make the middle classes angry at the poor. Call them all feckless, cheats, skivers, worthless, scum. Blame immigrants for the bonus round. Maybe then those working stiffs who grumble about their taxes won't think too hard about who it is who makes off with most of all the actual money, who was actually responsible for the banking crash and recession, and who controls the levers of actual power.

Blame the poor, punish the poor, make them stay away from us, contagious. While the truly wealthy can afford to let million pound mansions literally rot away because they don't need them.
posted by ArkhanJG at 9:17 AM on February 20, 2015 [46 favorites]


Spikes and barriers are infinitely more attractive than piles of human excrement and garbage. They are infinitely more humane than truncheons and police dogs. Because those are the current alternatives.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:21 AM on February 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


God damn right, ArkhanJG.
posted by Drexen at 9:22 AM on February 20, 2015


Spikes and barriers are infinitely more attractive than piles of human excrement and garbage. They are infinitely more humane than truncheons and police dogs. Because those are the current alternatives.

So this is where we are at? The infinite gamut of our imagination when considering how to deal with our own people spans... passive violence to active violence?
posted by lefty lucky cat at 9:25 AM on February 20, 2015 [23 favorites]


"the public thoroughfare in front of a building, belongs to the building’s occupant, even when it is not being used."

Imagine this take to the extreme: All property is solidly blocked off with thick walls. Property boundaries are where two walls run against each other. Streets are long, narrow valleys in between corporate facades, where "private property" partitions itself off from the public spaces.

Where will people go when they have no place to go? Outside the city limits? Even further than that?

Society is turning into a "rank-and-yank" system, where the bottom 10% is eliminated. Better keep your numbers up, or we'll have no use for you!
posted by rebent at 9:30 AM on February 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's a shame, however understandable, that helping the homeless must take an all or nothing approach. Help could be provided in degrees on a rising gradient, and this would be most welcomed by those in need. For instance, if you are sleeping under a bridge in the cold, it would be a big step up if you could be provided with, say, a four foot diameter cement pipe ten feet long with a spigot and drain at one end and lockable metal grates closing it off.

It's limiting and exhausting to have to carry and guard all of your possessions at all times, and the storage space and the new mobility alone would open up many opportunities for self advancement.

But this kind of incremental help runs into a big problem, when critics can point at what is provided and say, "Look! This is how you treat your people, like animals!" Many of the street people I have known have consciously left the system for some reason, and many are very resourceful in pursuing their self-sufficiency. These people would amaze you with how they could utilize a resource like the plumbed and secured cement pipe. And they would not stop at that plateau, they would continue to construct a better life on their own terms.

Some others are homeless because they faced a single hardship, like having all of their work tools stolen, and these people could use the breathing room to apply themselves towards getting new tools, or putting together the one decent set of clothes that they need to do some work that they already have lined up but can't show up for.

I don't know how the stigma on this kind of provider could be overcome.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:39 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Spikes and barriers are infinitely more attractive than piles of human excrement and garbage. They are infinitely more humane than truncheons and police dogs. Because those are the current alternatives.

Or... Free public restrooms (self cleaning even, I've seen them in more than one city I've been in). Adequate facilities to throw away trash (cities I've seen with few public rubbish bins seem to have a lot more trash on the ground than those with many public trash bins). Maybe even sufficiant public housing to house our poor.

I mean, we literally have empty mansions sitting in the middle of cities with billionaires who use them as vacation homes/tax shelters/investment properties while we have large homeless populations on the streets.
posted by el io at 9:42 AM on February 20, 2015 [14 favorites]


It's part of the narrative in the UK of the current government, of dividing the world into 'strivers and skivers' - that you're either a working family doing their bit to earn their way , or a skiver living the life of luxury on benefits never having to lift a finger. That if you're homeless, or out of work, or poor, or disabled or mentally ill etc etc it's largely your own fault and you just need to pull up on your bootstraps and all will be well.

The Soul of Man under Neoliberalism.

Or... Free public restrooms (self cleaning even, I've seen them in more than one city I've been in). Adequate facilities to throw away trash (cities I've seen with few public rubbish bins seem to have a lot more trash on the ground than those with many public trash bins). Maybe even sufficiant public housing to house our poor.

When your entire moral framework as a society is based on the idea of “moral hazard”, and the root of all evil being the undeserving getting something for nothing, that idea is a nonstarter.
posted by acb at 9:48 AM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


So this is where we are at? The infinite gamut of our imagination when considering how to deal with our own people spans... passive violence to active violence?

See, there's you're problem. You're still thinking using that old-fashioned "collective responsibility" mode of thinking. You're using evolved social cognition--that's no how we roll anymore. All of us rugged individualists have advanced beyond the need for that sort of thinking over here in the US and are trying to get the rest of the world up to speed. "We" is an oppressive word used to control people and to pretend to speak for them only. Grammatical constructions invoking any collective identity or responsibility are the sole refuge of scoundrels and secret elitists. Obviously.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:49 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I believe the first instance of "hostile architecture" (what an apt phrase!), was back in the 80's when the City of Ann Arbor installed/welded/attached weird small shit to handrails/curbs/benches/curbs/etc. to keep those "damn punk skateboarders" from doing tricks. (disclaimer, my kid was one of those damn punk skaters).
posted by HuronBob at 9:52 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


To answer the question posed: Yes.

Take that, Betteridge's Law!
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:03 AM on February 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Antibodies against the disease of poverty.
posted by orme at 10:06 AM on February 20, 2015


Absolutely societal action is needed. Surely such unsightliness can be rectified through the reintroduction of workhouses and debtors’ prisons? /s
posted by bouvin at 10:16 AM on February 20, 2015


Here in Atlanta, I take I-20 west to 75-85 SB to the airport to get to work every morning. At this interchange there are two overpasses over 75-85 that used to be full on tent villages (probably 50+ tents) for a few years. APD would come by every once in a while and break things up and the people would disperse, but within a week everyone would be back. I never saw garbage lying around, or any more than the baseline for the city. It seemed to be some what organized community that cleaned up after themselves. After a few years of this someone, I assume City of Atlanta, or maybe GA-DOT, installed beds of large, chunky gravel under the overpasses to prevent people from pitching their tents there. Since then I haven't seen a tent. Now you can make a public safety argument about not having people sleeping next to traffic travelling at 70 mph, but really it was because it made the city look bad, and we just can't have that, now can we.
posted by dudemanlives at 10:18 AM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I believe the first instance of "hostile architecture" (what an apt phrase!), was back in the 80's when the City of Ann Arbor installed/welded/attached weird small shit to handrails/curbs/benches/curbs/etc. to keep those "damn punk skateboarders" from doing tricks. (disclaimer, my kid was one of those damn punk skaters).

Defensive architecture in Victorian London.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:22 AM on February 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


So this is where we are at? The infinite gamut of our imagination when considering how to deal with our own people spans... passive violence to active violence?

It seems like you have never lived in a metropolitan area with a concentrated homeless population. Do you think that ideas like this are effective?
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:24 AM on February 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Spikes and barriers are infinitely more attractive than piles of human excrement and garbage. They are infinitely more humane than truncheons and police dogs. Because those are the current alternatives.

"the homeless are turd-and-trash generators whom the state must drive off somehow, and there are no other options" - hard-nosed realism
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:28 AM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


When we make it impossible for the dispossessed to rest their weary bodies at a bus shelter, we also make it impossible for the elderly, for the infirm, for the pregnant woman who has had a dizzy spell. By making the city less accepting of the human frame, we make it less welcoming to all humans.

This is the thing that in a just world would bite the people making these decisions. In the world we live in, the people making the decisions about bus shelter benches never take the bus and never have to rest against whatever thing they put in the shelter to keep people from sitting or lying down.
posted by immlass at 10:29 AM on February 20, 2015 [14 favorites]


What's that saying about satire being indistinguishable from fundamentalism?
Sculptor Fabian Brunsing brought a satirical eye to the issue by creating the "pay bench", an art installation of a park bench that retracts its metal spikes for a limited time when the prospective sitter feeds it a coin. Chinese officials, completely missing the joke, thought that this was a great idea and installed similar benches in Yantai Park of the Shangdong province.
When we won the War On Communism, we forgot to tell the former communists (and yes, I count the Chinese Communist Party as former communists) that a whole lot of socialism and caring for the helpless and homeless went into making "capitalism" work.

And now we're forgetting that ourselves.
posted by clawsoon at 10:35 AM on February 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


It seems like you have never lived in a metropolitan area with a concentrated homeless population.

It seems like you're making a lot of assumptions. These anti-personnel spikes do nothing to solve the problem of homelessness, they just add cruelty to it in the name of sightliness. The same goes, and more so, for aggressive police attacks against the homeless. Homelessness relief services, such as the Housing First policy that was recently discussed here, are the kind of solutions that actually improve the situation.
posted by Drexen at 10:46 AM on February 20, 2015 [11 favorites]


I'm surprised to see Vancouver cited positively. I recently saw a sort of sculpture here that consisted of a set of metal rails that irregularly rose and fell like a range of mountains. Quite pretty, until I realized that its purpose was to create a jagged surface so that no one could sleep on the warm air vent underneath.

Defensive architecture should be as ugly in execution as it is in concept.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:04 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


It seems like you have never lived in a metropolitan area with a concentrated homeless population. Do you think that ideas like this are effective?

In my experience living in a metropolitan area with a concentrated homeless population, I've found these types of things to be highly effective.

My neighborhood recently installed a number of "people spots" actually, kind of the opposite of hostile architecture. They have the double effect of giving homeless people a pleasant place to sit down AND of keeping the doorways of businesses clear. The people spots have plants in summertime and convenient trashcan access. I have not noticed that the people spots are any more cluttered or unpleasant to be in than any other part of the street.

I mean it would be a lot nicer if we had affordable housing and good mental health care systems to help the homeless people not be homeless, but since that's apparently some kind of fascist nightmare to my entire country, this will have to do for now.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:06 AM on February 20, 2015 [15 favorites]


Defensive architecture in Victorian London.

Now that I am aware of their existence, I am fascinated by urine deflectors. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
posted by Kabanos at 11:29 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yes, admirable hand wringing. More to the point, if we don't keep people who have somewhere to live feeling comfortable in the city centre, they'll all drive off to the private Trafford Centre, and who will the homeless beg off then?
posted by alasdair at 11:43 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


See, the way it should work, they put up spikes, we put up guillotines.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:07 PM on February 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


See, the way it should work, they put up spikes, we put up guillotines.

Yeah, I think you are overestimating the population of the "OK with humans shitting on the sidewalk in front of my house" group in this situation. Unless your plan is to execute 80% of the population or something.
posted by sideshow at 2:38 PM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Nothing here that an improvised wooden frame and some redimix concrete couldn't resolve in the middle of the night - the spikes might even act as rebar. Microdefense hacking would be a great project for an artist / activist group.
posted by ryanshepard at 2:45 PM on February 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


Actually, someone has already gotten out the concrete:

What it took this week – to wild acclaim on social media – was a night-time raid on Tesco in Regent Street, London, to cover two rows of steel studs on the storefront windowledge with a messy, but highly effective, layer of concrete.

For the supermarket (which has since removed them), the offending protrusions were "studs aimed at curbing anti-social behaviour" such as loitering and public drinking; for the underground group behind the operation – and for many other campaigners – they were "anti-homeless spikes".

The London Black Revs (short for "revolutionaries") told Vice reporter Simon Childs that it would consider acting against "every organisation planning to put homeless spikes up", recommending instead they "give the money to a local shelter organisation, food kitchen, or food bank".

posted by ryanshepard at 3:05 PM on February 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


It interests me that while I've seen a sharp uptick in this type of architecture in Minneapolis, I actually never saw a lot of unhoused people hanging out in the first place. I mean, there are places where people go, but most of this stuff around here seems designed to prevent, say, one homeless dude from - for one single hour! - sitting on a bench somewhere. And as a result, of course, it means that bus shelters and train stations are horribly inhospitable.

I remember Minneapolis, like, back in the early nineties and I was out and about a lot later and in odder places than I usually am now. I talked to some homeless people sometimes - I ran into a guy in a bus shelter who was telling me how the woman who had helped him out and sometimes given him a place to sleep had just died the previous day, and he was crying and it was awful. I have never forgotten that poor man.

Or there was Pops, who is probably dead now, who sort of lived on the street and ran errands for drug dealers. He was an older guy - I don't know how old, looked like he was about sixty, but that could have been the hard living. He had perfect cheekbones and could have sat for a portrait of Prester John. There actually was a portrait of him by Wing Young Huie as part of his Lake Street art project - I saw it one day at the Phillips Green Institute. I tried to tell Pops about it but somehow things got confused. I gave him spare change sometimes and once bought him a forty from the corner store. I heard from people that he got treated pretty roughly by the drug dealers and got kicked out into the snow one night. After a while I didn't see him anymore, and since I live in the same place and I don't think he would have done anything bad enough to get a long sentence, I think he's probably dead. It's been better than six years now, better than eight years, I think.

Actually, there was this other time recently where I was biking home late at night and there was a middle-aged guy from South America pushing a cart who asked me for directions. He couldn't quite understand or follow what I was trying to tell him and we got to talking a bit, and he started telling me that his partner/girlfriend had died in the hospital recently. We couldn't communicate all that well - language barrier and grief and some kind of state that he was in - but it was horribly, horribly sad and it made me think about how there's no public mourning if you're homeless. He had just shown up at the hospital and she was dead, that's it. And the potter's field for her, I assume.

I mean, no one shits in front of your house out of spite, for pete's sake.

I feel like I've been lucky enough to have some unusual experiences for someone of my general type (flinchy, retiring, very shy) and background (lower middle class, white, college educated, grew up in a suburb) - met some people who people like me do not usually meet. A lot of all this situation in our country is because for the most part non-marginalized people do not see marginalized people as regular human beings with complex histories and personalities. Part of this is class and language and who gets to speak and how we are taught not to be able to hear people more marginalized than us. (Which is something I have both observed to happen and done myself.)

I think that what happens to people is that they get brutalized and hurt and worn down so that their complexity gets buried - I think about Pops, for whom this was probably the most true of the homeless people I have known, and I wonder what he was really like, if you could have let him rest up and helped him get off the drugs. He was somebody's baby, right? How did he get to where he was? What was he like when he wasn't so messed up?

A lot of the homeless people I have known are artists. Not middle class kids who are sorta-homeless through bad luck, bad management and maybe some depression (which is still very rough - I'm not saying it's not, but it's a bit easier to get out of that situation), but working class people who are artists, every bit as much as, say, David Wojnarowicz or someone, in that they are driven by the desire to create art more than anything else. They are driven to create art, they are creative weirdos and you can get away with that if you're from a lower middle class or better background but the world smacks you the fuck down if you're really poor. There's a certain amount of scope if you want to do something that people understand - if you are a musician or something - but if you have high art ambitions, people think you're crazy.

No, seriously, now that I think about it of the homeless (or former homeless) people I have known well, two of them were black artists, one native and one multiracial. All of them were, I think, well above average in brains, and all of them were autodidacts who had read all this high-culture stuff. Like, you'd be chatting and this person would be all "and I have been reading a lot of Emily Dickinson" or "I've been really into fin de siecle 'decadent' writers lately".

It's not that this is an easy society for artists and intellectuals in general, but I think there's this particular punishment that is dealt out to non-conforming working class people of color.
posted by Frowner at 3:12 PM on February 20, 2015 [14 favorites]


I'm not entirely convinced that choosing whether or not to be needlessly mean to the homeless "will determine our future as a species," as the article asserts. But, it's true the premeditation makes this stuff particularly ugly. It's easy to excuse incidental abuse and disregard for people, but when you pay someone to draw up CAD models designed to make public spaces less useful, you've crossed the line separating ordinary jerk and cartoon villain.

The only good thing is the structures themselves are so outrageous and crude, they invite guerrilla modifications. (Ideally modifications which are official looking, well designed, and executed with a sense of humor.)

I'm very keen to have learned about both The pay-bench and Nils Norman's work from the article. Also, in the interest of sharing slightly related things, here's an older photo collection full of curious examples, the anti-sit gallary, and also Sarah Ross' archisuits.
posted by eotvos at 3:54 PM on February 20, 2015


Surely such unsightliness can be rectified through the reintroduction of workhouses and debtors’ prisons?

Serco would be a shoo-in for the workhouse contract, on their strength running prisons and immigration detention centres. Though they'd have to lose the term “workhouse”; because of that bleeding-heart socialist Dickens, it won't play well with the public, despite the idea itself being electorally appealing. They'll have to come up with a palatable euphemism like, say, “residential social repayment centre”, whilst letting the public know, through the tabloid press, that the scroungers aren't going to have it easy.

The endgame would be merging welfare provision, prisons/correctional facilities and poor-people healthcare into one department for managing the unworthy. In the US and Australia, they could throw public transport in there as well.
posted by acb at 4:10 PM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's not just the invisible marginalised which is part of the problem it's the invisible privileged too. If people actually saw how monumentally fucking easy the top of society have it then they'd be a little less inclined to let them take such a large part of the pie. But it's completely baked into the culture now. How many of us get kind of antsy when people talk about taking from the rich? The reflexive "it's not that simple" argument is already bubbling to the surface. The guilty "who am I to take the billionaire's money away? If I was a billionaire I'd probably hate it if people took my money".

Except we wouldn't. If you took a 1000 homeless people in London and gave them the Rich List's money I guarantee the first thing they would do would be to give most of it away. Like I would, or you would.

Shit, if I was Abramovich or Grosvenor or Mittall there wouldn't fucking be 1000 homeless people in London.
posted by fullerine at 7:42 PM on February 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


That's the old argument of "If I were Rothschild, I'd be richer than Rothschild, because I'd do a little teaching on the side." fullerine, you'll never be as wealthy as the people you named, and neither will I, because we're relatively normal people with functioning moral compasses.

It's time we treated the compulsion to hoard money as the mental illness it is. If somebody collects so many newspapers that their apartment becomes a fire hazard and makes life worse for their neighbors, the first thing we do is take the newspapers away. We need to do the same for money.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:57 PM on February 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


I mean, no one shits in front of your house out of spite, for pete's sake.

One time we had a guy (probably at least somewhat mentally ill) take a spite-shit out front while yelling angrily at us. There were much more private shitting options a few feet away, but he was going for maximum poop-GRAR to the point of shuffling around mid-shit to provide the best view.

The anti-homeless spikes in the article would have done no good since he was pooping, not sleeping.

But weird outliers like him aside, there's no justification for this kind of hostile architecture. Provide decent social services and a safety net, and it would be better for everyone.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:20 PM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Both the article and the linked essay had some useful insights on homelessness, but nothing we've not seen before.

In a way, (been doing security for private/public buildings), I'm a human equivalent of those ugly, blunted little spikes. Time after time you get the call to head outside to shoo off someone who's just a little bit too close to one of the entrances, whether they're standing, sitting, whatever. Because heaven forbid the Management Above should see a dirty no-good "homeless person" somewhere near Their building and blame security for it. (Which they do, regularly).

Whether we actually have a right, legally, to tell people on the public highway that they need to get up and go somewhere else is dubious (and the article addresses the spikes as a more legally-sound response to that question); but it's one you don't want to ask as an employee.

When you've got a voice screaming through your earpiece to "just get rid of him/her before the executives/councillors arrive for their meeting", you lose the ability to perceive someone clearly. The complex full interesting person staring at the floor or crying into their hands gets reduced to a two-line notation in a report: "vagrant/indigent removed from site". Fuck that. Just being a part of that uncaring mechanism makes your skin crawl.
posted by The Zeroth Law at 12:28 AM on February 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


Absolutely societal action is needed. Surely such unsightliness can be rectified through the reintroduction of workhouses and debtors’ prisons? /s
posted by bouvin at 10:16 AM on February 20 [+] [!]


I know you are being sarcastic here, but I know people in England who genuinely believe that this is a good solution.

There was a discussion on this very article on /r/unitedkingdom, it got kind of ugly at one point with people asking if they'd rather the homeless sleep in their front yard instead.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 3:34 AM on February 21, 2015


I think Dip Flash might be onto something here. Spread word around that those helpful little metal cones are there to help with aiming your pee/poo on and see how long they last.
posted by mcrandello at 3:40 AM on February 21, 2015


Connect all the dots in 1 row: 10 points.
Straight line in-between the row of spikes: 20 points.
Create a polygon using them as vertices: 50 points.
Hat trick: Sign your name without hitting one and then take a dump one of the corners: 100 points.

I mean if you're homeless around my area it's a given that you're going to picked up for urinating/defecating in public anyways so why not make it interesting?
posted by mcrandello at 3:47 AM on February 21, 2015


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