Homelessness is a major issue in most cities, and it’s not likely to go away anytime soon. As of 2016, an estimated 549,928 people in the United States experienced homelessness on an average night; over one-fifth of that number was made up of children. It isn’t limited to one geographic area, either. Such as cities with high homelessness rates such as New York, Los Angeles, and Washington DC are far from the only places homelessness exist. Even in the smallest of towns you can often find someone who’s homeless. The methods of how cities hide homelessness are as creative as they are morally questionable.
So, what are some of the ways cities hide their homeless? Local governments might install spikes on the ground outside of buildings, or design garbage cans so that they can’t be rummaged through. Some places go even further by banning charity organizations from feeding the homeless and arresting people for sleeping outside. Homeless individuals often adapt to these new circumstances, though many end up pushed to the very outskirts of society.
Are these policies humane? Take some time to consider how towns control homeless populations, and come to your own conclusions.
Installing Spikes Where Homeless People Sleep
In 2014, several private buildings in London and Montreal installed spikes in the ground in an attempt to stop homeless people from sleeping there. This met with public outrage. Protesters poured concrete over spikes that cropped up outside of a Tesco supermarket. Over 130,000 people signed a petition in favor of their removal, and the mayors of both cities spoke out against them. The spikes were eventually removed from Montreal and London due to their unpopularity.
One of the many problems with homelessness is finding a place to bathe and wash your clothes. While many homeless people are able to get this done in shelters, others might have to get creative. Individuals might try to bathe in public restrooms, public water fountains, or in naturally occurring bodies of water like lakes. Unfortunately, this behavior is illegal in many places, and often leads to ejection from the facilities, or to arrests.
If you go into the New York City subway, you’ll see signs everywhere telling you not to give money or other aid to the homeless. New York City is far from the only city with restrictions on panhandling. In Orlando, FL, you can’t solicit money from a “captive audience,” which can even include people sitting outdoors. In Atlanta, GA, the practice is completely banned.
Not only can homeless people asking for money be fined or arrested, but in some places the people who give might be targeted, too. In January of 2017, a bill was proposed in Providence, RI, that would fine motorists for stopping their cars to give money to someone outside.
Religious groups and charity organizations often provide food to the homeless. While this may seem like a harmless act of kindness, many cities are cracking down on these organizations. In 2014, laws restricting feeding the homeless appeared in at least 33 U.S. cities. The penalties for doing so can range from heavy fines to jail time.
This has resulted in a decrease in activity from these organizations – and in turn, fewer opportunities for homeless individuals to get something to eat.I once made a video about this as I spent over $500 one time in Atlanta while waiting on the “Mega Bus”, I spent over $500 on pizza and soda and coffee to help others eat and stay warm, because I was saddened to see people sleeping outside. I was placed in handcuffs, harassed by the police for hours and finally let go. It just goes to show how heartless, governments and the police and people OUR taxes pay have become!
Destroying Homeless People’s Belongings
The California transit bureau conducts massive raids, during which officials round up and destroy homeless people’s belongings by tossing them into a garbage compactor. This can include everything from tents and garbage bags to cell phones and personal documents. In one particularly harrowing incident, a tent was crushed while someone’s cat was still inside.
Besides the loss of personal property, these types of raids can dramatically impede any progress a homeless person might make toward getting off the streets. You can’t exactly get a job if you don’t have a phone or documents proving your identity. Several lawsuits are in progress to attempt to stop this practice.
Establishing Rules Against Sleeping In Public
If you’ve ever seen a security guard walking around a public library, eyes out for anyone who looks like they might be nodding off, you’ve seen this particular technique in action. Sleeping in a public building, on public transportation, and outside are activities that are banned in many cities.
Theoretically, homeless people could stay in shelters. But shelters are often full to capacity, or are so rife with gang violence that staying on the street is preferable. Yes that’s right it is SAFER MANY TIMES to sleep outside vs staying in a shelter! Also many times the people who are left in charge are former drug addicts, who were once in that shelters programs and have been put in charge, they tend to hold people medications as people checking in are not allowed to hold their own meds. This leads also to medications getting stolen or coming up shirt, and their is nothing the homeless person can do to complain, because if they do they will be barred from returning.
Establishing Rules Against Sleeping In Private
Not only are homeless people harassed for falling asleep in public places, but they can also be ticketed or arrested for sleeping in private spots. For example, a homeless person sleeping in a tent in the woods might be violating the anti-camping laws that exist in many states. Someone sleeping in their own car might also be breaking a rule, depending on where they live; in Los Angeles, people are forbidden from sleeping in cars near commercial districts, homes, and schools. So if someone is not familiar with this rule could be arrested, have their car and belongings towed away. Thus putting them further behind.
Have you ever wondered why the public benches in some cities are so uncomfortable to sit on? It’s not a design flaw – it’s 100% intentional. Because benches are popular place for homeless people to fall asleep, they’re often designed in such a way that it’s impossible for someone to settle on them for long. I can understand this rule however as it is annoying to have someone constantly in the way and on benches in parks and so on. But I also think if there were more options for homeless people, they wouldn’t be on the benches.
Forcing People Into Shelters
Many cities attempt to move homeless people off the street and into designated shelters. While shelters can be a blessing for some, others want nothing to do with them, and for good reason. According to James Pirtle, who was interviewed by NPR about his experiences with homelessness, “You hear a lot of terrible things about shelters, that shelters are dangerous places, that they’re full of drugs and drug dealers, that people will steal your shoes, and there’s bedbugs and body lice. And yeah, unfortunately a lot of those things are true.”
In order to force homeless people into shelters, some cities support drastic measures. In Pinellas County, FL, one proposal involved putting individuals who refused to be relocated into pre-trial solitary confinement until they changed their minds. which this is very sad as we have our 4th amendment right and our right to travel freely. Sadly even if a homeless person was to challenge this they do not have the money for legal council to fight for those rights, so they go ignored and trampled upon!
Putting In Coin-Operated Benches
In Yentai Park in Shandong Province, China, there’s yet another thing preventing homeless people from sitting down. Coin-operated benches were originally a concept designed by a sculptor named Fabian Brunsing. He didn’t mean for them to be used in real life, but China has adopted the concept.
If a person sits on one of these benches for more than a few minutes without inserting a coin, an alarm will sound, and spikes will come out. The spikes aren’t sharp enough to do serious damage, but they still hurt.
Placing Locking Mechanisms On Garbage Cans
Homeless people sometimes rummage through the trash for food. It’s not an ideal way for anyone to get a meal, but it might be their only choice. But now, many garbage cans are designed in such a way that it’s difficult to get to what’s inside. Locking mechanisms stop people from opening the can from the outside, and “rain hoods” make reaching in from the top just about impossible.
I find it amazing that they do this, more so with all the food we waste! If someone can make use of it, why not let them?
By Shaming Homeless People On Social Media
In 2015, a New York City police union requested that members photograph homeless people and post the images on Flickr. The practice was extremely controversial; some felt it shamed homeless people and blamed them for their situation, while others felt that it opened a desperately needed dialogue about the problem of homelessness and how to solve it.In any capacity, I just feel this this is REALLY going to an extreme, when it comes to solving the problems of homelessness. I don’t know maybe if it didn’t costs so much to live out there people would be able to get the help they need.
Also some counties in NY cover places for homeless people to stay, but many times they have to share a room with two or three other people, thus causing it to be dangerous as some people get beat up and robbed, I have seen this first hand being in NY.
So no matter how you look at it homelessness is a very big issue, but the ways many places are “trying” to solve it are not working, nor are they beneficial to anyone. We all need to work on a resolve and get to the root of the issue and see if people are homeless because of mental issues, lacking skills, or something else. Until we do this there will be no resolve!