North Texas Daily

Hostile architecture is cruel and pointless

Hostile architecture is cruel and pointless

Hostile architecture is cruel and pointless
March 22
09:00 2020

Homelessness is not always determined by work ethic. Often, it occurs as a result of systemic bigotry, ailments or single parenthood. It is therefore objectively inhumane to deprive homeless people of essential resources, and even more draconian to deny them the means to access any alternatives.

Hostile architecture was designed for the sole purpose of deterring homeless people from sleeping in public areas, without any regard for the homeless, who are, by definition, homeless, and therefore have nowhere else to sleep. Examples of hostile architecture include slanted benches, barred corners, street spikes and even raised grate covers that actively prevent homeless people from keeping warm during the winter. LGBTQ people, people with disabilities and people of color that experience homelessness to a disproportionate degree is not a coincidence. Intolerance for the homeless often runs parallel to intolerance toward marginalized demographics. The only way hostile architecture could reduce the homeless population is through elimination, so of course this tactic would target populations prejudicial people consider undesirable.

The very existence of hostile architecture endorses the simplistic yet persistent notion that homelessness can be equated with laziness. This is a very convenient belief to have for those who do not want to spend their time or money on tackling the logistics of homelessness prevention, who instead prefer to bargain with people’s lives in the process of proving their theory that a healthy dose of near-death will scare homeless people into not being homeless anymore. I would daresay that a majority of the homeless population are not partial to sleeping on concrete with no foresight as to where their next meal might come from, which would disprove that particular theory.

Businesses claim to install hostile architecture around the perimeter of their buildings because the presence of homeless people on the premises makes customers leery, an act that could potentially serve as an apt analogy for society turning a blind eye to the problem of homelessness. Some businesses have actually installed retractable spikes in their sidewalks so that customers will not have to lay eyes on this unappealing structural component during the day, or ruminate on the reality of what they are witnessing. The sight of spikes that resemble those used to ward away birds can prove especially disconcerting to anyone who does not perceive homeless people as a variety of vermin.

People of color experience homelessness to a disproportionate degree because the neighborhoods in which many people of color reside do not receive as much funding as white neighborhoods. Many LGBTQ children and young adults are disowned and subsequently cast out by homophobic family members. People with disabilities have difficulty finding consistent employment and do not receive enough financial support from the government to provide for themselves, and single parents obviously struggle with providing for their children. These are the people hostile architecture proponents do not want to acknowledge exist, which is why said proponents have developed a technique that ensures that they personally will not have to interact with any subject or person they consider undesirable. Hostile architecture doesn’t suggest that homelessness shouldn’t exist so much as it suggests that homeless people should not exist.

Featured Illustration: Olivia Varnell

About Author

Rachel Card

Rachel Card

Rachel Card is a junior majoring in public relations and minoring in sociology. She was born in Austin, Texas, and is currently quarantining there with her family and three dogs.

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