I think most hostile architecture is basically an admission that "We don't actually have a solution to our social problems, so we are resorting to a beatings-will-continue-until-morale-improves model as an outward expression of our incompetence."
That's my charitable take. My uncharitable take is that a lot of people in power don't care, have no heart and can't be arsed to pretend to care.
Well, as someone who disagrees, but also likes to think I have a heart, I'll give my 2c. Why don't we consider locks on your doors "hostile architecture"? Social problems are complex and difficult to solve, and just because we haven't solved them doesn't mean, for example, that people should be discouraged from trying to prevent people from urinating on their property. I mean, take one of the examples from the wikipedia article: Just because some people have a drug problem doesn't mean blue lights in a public bathroom to prevent IV drug use there is a bad thing.
Take homelessness. It is no coincidence that the cities that actually provide the most support and resources for the homeless actually have the worst homeless problems. With the lack of a national policy to deal with homelessness, providing better services does make your city a magnet for the homeless population (this is NOT an argument against providing those services, just a simple observation of cause and effect). The fact that it would be good to be able to sit at a city bus stop I think is a good thing even if there are still homeless people in your city.
A. Most services aimed at the homeless would be sued out of existence if they were intended for middle class clientele. They are frequently quite terrible.
For example: At a free meal from the Salvation Army, an older woman sitting next to me who had just gotten out of the hospital for a heart condition had all her stuff stolen for complying with their crappy policy of leaving her stuff in the unguarded designated area. It was cold and rainy that night and she had just lost all her extra clothes and bedding.
They were giving away bedding and clothes after the meal. No one walked her to the front of the line and said "Make sure she gets what she needs to make it safely through the night."
B. I'm mostly not interested in seeing more homeless services. They are mostly a "fuck you" solution.
If we actually cared about people in the US, we would have free national health care and an appropriate housing supply. We have neither, then we blame poor people as being crazies and junkies when they end up homeless.
Then we add insult to injury by giving them terrible food with long lines and similar "services" for which we expect them to be ever so grateful.
I'm wholly unimpressed with the entire thing. The system is quite broken.
For example, most of the doctor specialist services here have a "full" waiting list just to schedule an appointment and force people to call at a certain time in the morning for a few spots on said list, like animals jockeying to win the lottery.
Oh and the amount of food and cash aid is abysmal, not enough to feed or clothe anyone.
Most services demand either employment or only apply to certain groups, leaving many people to fall between the cracks.
The "social workers" are arrogant, obnoxious bureaucrats who don't listen to their clients but instead hold their aid over their heads and order them around without offering any solutions, strategies, resources or actual help... just judgement and control.
And it takes years to get disability status reviewed and longer to get housing. There are at least 1500 people living rough and 500 people living in vehicles in the area.
Later when I needed to see a doctor I dutifully made an appointment and rode the bus one and a half hours out there only to learn that my assigned provider was a pediatrician and she didn't feel comfortable taking me on as a patient. I contacted the plan provider and they assigned me a new doctor, but when I tried to make an appointment with him it turned out he was no longer practicing medicine. Fortunately one of his colleagues was able to take me and I finally received some care.
Three months later I was informed by his office that they were no longer in-network with my plan because they had had too much difficulty getting them to honor payments. I was assigned another primary care provider but thankfully I got a job not long after that and I never experienced the thrill of discovering whether the last one was a real living doctor or perhaps an inanimate can of Dr. Pepper.
On a less morbid note, while queues are slightly longer, nothing like that happens in any of UK, Canada or any part of EU.
USA is the "have no money, get bent" kind of country it seems. Kinda ruins the old American dream for everyone.
Either way EU will make a free trade deal(more or less limited) with the UK, the only real issue with Brexit is the irish border.
It was better than what we had, which was nothing.
But some "help" is so bad it actually makes things worse. Being forced to leave all your possessions in an unsecured area to get a meal at all is an all-too-common practice. But it's not done everywhere and it's not necessary.
It's like the difference between a "bandage solution" and a "bandage" that isn't sterile. The second actively makes you worse off.
I had to choose between hunger and safety before and you make that choice and live with it. Blaming others for trying to help you is not useful.
How a society treats its most vulnerable, "undesirable" and powerless individuals (prisoners, homeless and other minority groups) reflects the true nature of its constituents.
It's truly a shame most modern people have no idea what it's like to be homeless and/or didn't learn the golden rule or empathy in their upbringing.
Street Life Solutions
The Genevieve Files
They make me very little money, but some local homeless services and the local police department give out fliers of mine that list some of my sites. At least one local individual got back into housing, probably in part because of the information on my sites. I was acquainted with him and gave him a flier personally.
The police department seems to be my best ally in that regard. Unlike most homeless services,* they don't need the homeless problem to continue to exist to give their lives meaning or justify their paychecks. They would be thrilled to see the local homeless problem resolved so they could dedicate their limited resources to dealing with crime.
* (The Shirky Principle and Homelessness:
I'm still struggling to make ends meet and I seem to be making a dent in the homeless problem. It makes me really unsympathetic to arguments from more well-heeled people about how hard it is to solve or similar excuses for continuing to do nothing.
In my experience, homeless people act cringeing and fearful, and often call people Sir or Ma'am.
It's pretty horrible to see someone's spirit broken that way.
They aren't the people who need to learn gratitude.
You are literally midway through castigating her opinions based on an assumed motive. That isn't quite hypocrisy, but it certainly isn't a shining example of how to live your own advice. I hope I'm speaking for more people than just myself when I say you should aim for a higher standard than "not quite hypocrisy" when you disagree with someone.
> Reading more of your comments in this thread, and in our interaction prior; I've determined you're an extremely bitter person.
If you want to promote healthy conversations this lead in is not the way to do it. Your comment mixes a rather arbitrary character attack in with a reasonable point on moral language; and the mix is unpleasant.
Labeling people, even with positive labels, based on flimsy evidence is no path to dialog.
That is a statement: because we do not have free national healthcare and appropriate housing supply, we do not care about people in the US.
This is patently false, and ill-motivated, seeking to disparage anyone who may offer alternative diagnoses or solutions.
(Obviously, I'm angry here, but I'm also very, very sad.)
--- edit: close paren ---
...I went extremely bitter just from reading this sentence.
Only 46% of homeless people are in urban areas, and in LA at least more than 75% of the homeless population have lived there for at least five years, with 57% having lived in the area for at least 20 years. Homeless people don't change cities nearly as often as people try to claim.
The biggest factor in homeless populations is housing costs. There have been multiple studies which show that when rent increases so does the homeless population. The magic number is 32%- when housing costs reach 32% of a typical households income then that neighborhood will see a dramatic rise in homelessness. That number has been reached in a huge number of neighborhoods.
Sleeping place where they won't be distributed, minimal or not source of income, sometimes friends...
Reading this reminded me of the story of the emperor who, on learning that the most plague-ridden parts of his empire also had the most doctors, promptly ordered all the doctors killed.
My point is: you're taking a correlation and arguing a causation most people would consider backwards. The mechanism you've suggested for this causation - homeless people migrate to places with better services, increasing the net homelessness - assumes a lot about homeless people: that they have the means to afford travel, that they are informed about services for homelessness, that they are rational and in sound frame of mind, and that homeless people avail of homelessness services.
Almost none of these are actually backed by available data on chronic homelessness! (The Wikipedia article for this is a treasure-trove of primary sources on this front). This mechanism is too weak to support the model listed here. It ignores that a full fifth to a third of homeless people suffer from one form of mental illness or another (mental illness accounts for the number three reason for chronic homelessness). The homeless population includes teenagers (nearly half of all foster children are homeless by the time they turn 18) as much as adults. Lack of affordable housing is among the leading causes of homelessness - if these people hd money to travel, they sure as heck wouldn't be homeless in the first place.
This is not to say that some homeless people may migrate to places with better services - there are always exceptions. The vast majority, however, can't. It's just not valid to make the leap from "cities with better services become magnets for the homeless" to saying "that's the reason cities with more or better services also have high homelessness".
> The fact that it would be good to be able to sit at a city bus stop ... is a good thing even if there are still homeless people in your city
Agreed! But exclusionary architecture is not the only road guaranteed to get to nice bus stops. In fact, it is not even guaranteed to get to nice bus stops. It is the "let them eat cake" approach to getting nice bus stops: great for those who aren't homeless, lousy for those who are.
It boils down to if you want nice bus stops for everyone or just those who aren't homeless. If you want everyone to enjoy nice bus stops, then you invest in solving homelessness, not in propping up barriers for them. That's the long and short of it.
Locks are a defence against an attacker. Someone sleeping on the pavement outside of an office building isn't attacking it.
"A synonym is a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another.."
Your example uses the latter (nearly the same) for convenience, as tht is what a thesaurus if for (finding words that in certain contexts can be used synonymous.
It doesn't mean all listed words are exactly the same, i.e. drop in replacements, which depends on context, or 'sense'.
In this case, "attacker" is necessarily tied to the meaning of "attack", where "invader" does not have the same constraint, since "attack" and "invade" have different meanings. They can be used in synonymous contexts, but so can many distinct words, because words can be used euphemistically e.g I can talk of an "attack" on my rights, distinct from actual physical violence.
Drug addicts by definition take drugs. Blue lights in toilets do not stop people taking drugs. They stop people taking drugs in that toilet. If we removed the blue light, and fitted sharps bins, people would take drugs in that toilet and not on the street, and they'd have a place to dispose of the needle. This would be better for everyone.
I don't know if/how blue lights impact diabetic injections, since those apparently aren't injecting veins per se, but a more compelling argument for most people is that not all people using a syringe are engaging in illicit drug use.
When we design hostile architecture, we design with a presumption of guilt and punish or problematically forbid a lot of innocent behavior as well. This is one of the better arguments if you wish to actually persuade people.
> If we removed the blue light, and fitted sharps bins, people would take drugs in that toilet and not on the street, and they'd have a place to dispose of the needle.
This is laughable to me. To be in the frame of mind to need or want to shoot up in a public bathroom is not the same frame of mind to use a sharps bin to dispose of a needle.
If you provide sharps bins they tend to be used.
They do this in Sydney, and there are maps available to show where the bins are.
The charitable take is that public space is meant to be usable by the general public, not have it adversely possessed as permanent living space. Most "hostile architecture" is designed to prevent only the latter, not the former.
At best, making it impossible for homeless people to sleep at all "solves" homelessness by sending people to an early grave. If that isn't cruel and heartless, I don't know what is.
> The metal spikes, part of a trend called "hostile architecture," appeared recently outside of an office building in Manchester, England, that's managed by commercial property agent GVA, according to The Guardian.
The original wikipedia article uses the following examples:
> - The Seattle Department of Transportation installed bicycle racks to prevent the homeless from camping.
> - A gas station in New Kensington, Pennsylvania installed blue lighting in their bathrooms that make it hard for drug users to find their veins.
> - Anti-homeless spikes on London's Curtain Road to prevent homeless people from sleeping there.
The further examples in the wikipedia article are clearly not otherwise unused overpasses.
If you have that, there are developed countries doing a good job of reducing the incidence of homelessness.
In the US, we spend insane amounts of money on care programs for the homeless, so much so it would literally be cheaper to just pay their rent. At least one hospital decided to do that (for some of their most expensive cases) as a means to lower its expenses.
Two things that would help enormously in the US:
1. A healthcare system that works.
2. A housing supply that meets the needs of our current demographic instead of being designed to only serve upper class nuclear families.
I find it hard to believe it's an economic matter of not meeting a certain low-cost customer segment of demand if all these empty houses are sitting around. The deeper issue may be structural unemployment, which isn't going to get any better.
They all had a minimum of several hundred dollars in closing costs. They typically also had very expensive defects, such as fire damage or flood damage and black mold because of it.
In recent decades, we've torn down around a million SROs. In the 1950s, the average new house was about 1200 sqft and held about 3.5 people. Today, it's over 2400 sqft and holds about 2.5 people.
We've largely zoned out of existence the creation of small homes in walking distance of amenities, like jobs and shopping. A car is practically a requirement to make life work for most Americans. For most Americans, housing is their biggest expense and a car is their second biggest.
I've lived without a car for over a decade. If I had to buy a car to access affordable housing, that would substantially cut into my housing budget. It just made more sense to find housing in a walkable community to make my life work.
I'd like to understand the incentives better--if SROs work well to put roofs over homeless, and lead to some level of economic activity where there would have been just unfulfilled need (all seem like big wins), what are the countervailing forces that prevent this from happening?
In a nutshell, Americans have a mental model of "proper housing" as housing designed for a fairly upper class nuclear family. We had a fairly high percentage of such just after WW2. Since then, our demographics have diversified away from that, but our housing stock has narrowed towards even more of that.
I'm hoping to figure out how to reverse that trend.
Here in SoCal there are 'free' abandoned houses out in the middle of the desert. Hours from the nearest service station or employment. Even just getting in and out of them requires dozens of dollars in gasoline.
Great way to put what I was trying to say.
Another way to think of it is that there are tons of abandoned houses due to lack of opportunity, but no jobs left unfilled purely for lack of housing. The problem isn't that there isn't enough housing, the problem is there aren't enough jobs.
3. A shift in our attitudes toward mental health issues, and systems in place to help people with mental health issues.
Right now in the US, people considering suicide can't even talk about it or they will be locked up for 48 hours.
I just tend to not make a clear distinction between health and mental health. I have something of a tendency to lump them together.
Solving the actual problems in society that lead to hostile architecture is a harder problem and the builder doesn't have complete control of that. A builder can choose to donate to a charity that assists the homeless but that doesn't mean people will stop peeing in their property.
Does anyone know of an organization that could collect money from lots of builders/owners, apply some root cause analysis and try to solve the real problems so private owners don't need to resort to hostile architecture? Preferably a public one.
I know that many like their brutalist concrete surfaces clean, but ultimately your building stands in the public with public roads connecting to it and a public walking by and you have at least some moral responsibility to also serve that public if it doesn’t kill you.
If you wan’t to avoid people peeing everywhere, lobby for public toiletts. Real estate owners are typically really good at that kind of lobbying, typically it is always for thwir own good and never for the public good.
I’d say it’s perfectly fine for a private builder to arrange things such that people are discouraged from peeing on his building. There’s no moral requirement to provide public restrooms.
If these buildings were truly private and exempt from the larger social society they wouldn't need hostile architecture in the first place.
You are effectively referring to people who choose to participate in social society as 'suckers' which is fine in the abstract but...just is icky when you step and think about the ramifications like a empathetic human being.
The fact that no one wants to be the sucker who everyone else freeloads off has nothing to do with lack of empathy.
A) No light source by design. Why do you need one? To read a newspaper?
B) Have maintenance staff (for bigger ones) who actively prevent this and are paid (a pittance) for it - they also collect token pay for the use of e.g. shower. This also provides a few low paid jobs, reducing the problem.
C) Expensive? Come on. Look up the costs of a portapotty first. We're living in the world where public buildings are finished in marble and chrome...
D) We do not have huge drug problem in the first place, so people do not shoot up.
Of course anything with nonzero cost would get labeled as expensive, it's a funny world we live in.
Roads are more expensive than these. Any sort of public transport. Heck, pavement.
That publicly funded road would be pointless and unfunded without the economic activity driven by those buildings. In fact if you offered the businesses the chance to fund the roads, police and other things provided by the state that they benefit from themselves without the governmental overhead they would likely jump at the chance as it would be far cheaper than paying taxes.
I am not surprised that the streets are full of trash and human excrement. I have a place to go home to, and frequently hold it until I get there. I have a lot of empathy for those who live on the streets; I don't think anyone really wants to shit where they live, it's a matter of necessity. Where would you relieve yourself in SF if you didn't have a home or money to needlessly pay someone to use their restrooms?
These are reflections of our societies, not root causes.
It may not be the responsibility of a private builder, but private builders operate in a larger social and regulatory landscape. Society as a whole needs to come up with reasonable rules that people are capable of complying with. Doing otherwise creates a broken system that goes very bad places.
When I was growing up, peeing in the shrubs (or on a wall or wooden fence) was fairly common, especially for men. If you want to ban that, then you need to provide enough public restrooms to make it a reasonable expectation to use the appropriate facilities.
To save face, Starbucks apologized and made it company-wide policy that anyone can use their bathrooms, an announcement that got posted to r/homeless as a little good news for the homeless community.
I don't think calling the cops on them was the right thing to do if they were denied use of the bathroom but otherwise weren't making a scene, but I don't see why potentially being a customer in the future would give you privileges reserved for customers currently.
If I am by myself, needing to use the restroom before I order, what should I do? Order first and then take the food with me in the restroom? Leave it unattended at the table?
Curious how for example code project structure or inter-process messaging constraints can prohibit mixing concerns or breaking the domain model. Also curious how such a forceful environment is experienced and whether it has the intended effect.
and in programming you have defensive/deterrent features like prefixing unsafe function names with "unsafe"
I would argue that almost every project I have every worked on where the software was initially maintained by a single individual would be classified as "hostile architecture"
Stuff like this just seems like a gross bandaid
I feel like there was a discussion about this quite recently, too, but can't find it.
the fakir's rest
Since there isn't really a fundamental human need to slide a skateboard down a handrail, I don't think it really counts as "hostile". It just represents, "I've agreed to provide a certain level of maintenance for this public handrail. Not enough to handle repeated skateboard friction."
I don't see anything wrong with hostile architecture, per se. What's wrong is hostile architecture in the absence of shelters and housing programs. But the solution isn't giving over playgrounds and store fronts, but to provide housing.
And as someone who has lived in multiple large cities, I've seen firsthand (as an observer, as an acquaintance) a not insubstantial fraction of homeless will simply refuse assistance, whether because of mental problems or drug addiction. So the presence of hostile architecture doesn't necessarily mean shelter doesn't exist, it simply reflects other societal ills.
I don't know how to solve the problem. But railing against the symptoms doesn't help. Filthy public spaces are worse than no public spaces, and no public spaces is precisely what we'll get if we try to address the symptoms without addressing the underlying causes. Parks disappear, buildings are built without public spaces entirely or with "public spaces" inside buildings where security patrol and which become inaccessible after hours, etc.