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The New Military Urbanism

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Bryan Finoki has a good article on how cities have redesigned spaces in order to declare a low-level war on the homeless, or as Steven Graham call it, “the new military urbanism.” By erecting barriers that prevent the homeless from sleeping, the cities make themselves friendly for corporations and the image of a smooth run enterprise without the messiness that corporate leaders might not like. But this is fact a version of class warfare. Finoki:

Because of the homeless’ permanent existence in the outer public domain, they are particularly prone to architecture as something that has been designed to be specifically hostile to them, yet camouflaged into the normal fabric as permanent barriers. The post-9/11 makeover of the urban environment only served to justify the intensification of this process under a new name. For the homeless populations struggling to survive in the neoliberal city, urban design translates into an infinitely inhospitable surface; a brutal run-away edge that they can neither penetrate nor separate themselves from.

While the conditions of homelessness are the result of many complex and largely misunderstood—and misrepresented—sociocultural underpinnings, they partially thrive within the inhumane trappings of the built environment’s architectural surfaces themselves. For those who are pushed towards the outside, the city is a colossal mega-structure that sustains only their permanent exteriorization. It is a city designed to ensure the near impossibility of their inhabitation. Between the vitriol of those who wish to see the homeless simply disappear and the militancy of advocates devoted to homeless rights and resistance, the policing of homelessness pushes them ever toward the city’s edge. The homeless are essentially being made into anti-monumental ghosts—ghosts of an architectural surface that makes them disappear.

Effectively, he’s describing the city of the New Gilded Age, a space where the poor are driven away, where class is erased by eliminating those who would remind us it exists and where billionaires can be comfortable. In other words, welcome to global Bloombergville.

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  • Vance Maverick

    I’m not sure what the relevance of corporations is here. It’s certainly a failure of the commons. But was the regime of 100 years ago, with the homeless chased away by violence, significantly different?

    The Pay & Sit concept bench (2008) captures the tone….

    • Lee Rudolph

      But was the regime of 100 years ago, with the homeless chased away by violence, significantly different?

      Where’s the money to be made by allowing the homeless to be chased away by violence, compared to the rake-off from designing, building, erecting and maintaining physical barriers?

      • Vance Maverick

        To return your cynicism in kind, it did make work for cops.

        And to return more directly to the question framed by the photo above, what’s the preferable alternative? A homeless person sleeping outdoors on stone at eye level? Surely we can do better than that, for the shared environment and for the person in need of shelter.

        • dilan

          The problem is we don’t.

          In theory, I don’t want anyone sleeping on the streets either. I think it’s blighted, it’s ugly, it’s inhumane, it breeds crime and disorder, etc.

          But what a lot of taxpayers seem to want is nobody sleeping on the street while we also don’t do anything sufficient to house the homeless. And compared to THAT, yeah, they should be able ot sleep on the street rather than being chased out of town.

          • Malaclypse

            Yep. There’s a Superfund site a few miles away. There’s a homeless camp in it. I’d prefer they have real shelter, but failing that, I’d rather they be downtown.

          • Pat

            Housing First is a much better way of helping the homeless. It costs the state less than letting people live in the street, is far more humane, and improves society. But it requires people to actually evaluate the total costs of homelessness versus the costs of providing housing. It may be a while before California implements something like what Utah has. I think Utah has only gone this way because the Church decided to quietly, quietly champion it.

            • joe from Lowell

              But it requires people to actually evaluate the total costs of providing people with housing.

              Even though that additional cost is recouped over the long term through lower costs in other services, as the newly-housed are so much better-situated to deal with their other problems, that’s always a tough sell politically.

              • Pat

                Especially in places where a cheap apartment’s rent is out of reach for a full time worker on minimum wage.

            • Aimai

              Housing first is great and I believe that Cambridge has instituted this as a policy but people still need massive services once they are in housing in order to lead better lives. It can be hard to orchestrate that across providers. I believe that our SRO/YMCA run women’s housing has women who have lived there for 20 years some with services and some without because of the way women are funnelled in off the street. Depending on the agency working with you, that is, you may get lots of services you need, such as mental health services, or almost none.

              Also Housing First requires housing, basically, low income to no income housing and such housing is often at a premium in precisely the kinds of places that homeless people gather (because services, companionship, and potentially money are there).

              • Pat

                Those are both great points. The first issue is the existence of low income housing, which isn’t available is great enough quantities. Ideally, you don’t want to concentrate it in communities either, because concentrated poverty exacerbates inequality. That probably makes it more difficult to implement in places like California or Florida, where homelessness is a larger problem.

                It’s still the fiscally and morally responsible thing to do. But as you say, it’s not a sufficient answer on its own.

    • joe from Lowell

      The corporate angle is that this design trend stems from a desire to attract and maintain investment in downtown commercial properties, as opposed to some locals who don’t want the homeless near the block where their grannies live.

      I think Finoki is definitely describing something real, even if he tends to be totalizing on the theory end.

      • nixnutz

        I think that illustration is good because clearly Emporio Armani isn’t going to solve the problem of homelessness on their own and they need to preserve the image of an upscale retailer but a big planter or something would be less obvious. That big ugly bar is depressing because its utility is so apparent.

        And this makes me think of the widespread influence on skateboarding on architecture, which is sort of similar.

        • Lee Rudolph

          the widespread influence on skateboarding on architecture

          I am certain that one of those “on”s is meant to be “of”, but I don’t know which.

          • nixnutz

            I guess it’s pretty symbiotic, skateboarding was shaped by its environment which than adapted in self-defense. The sentence works either way.

            • Hogan

              It’s like the naval arms race: you make better armor, we make better guns.

            • joe from Lowell

              Lamarckitecture?

          • If you’d ever sat through an architectural student’s presentation of a project, you’d know that both should be “of.”

  • Fortunado

    On the North Side of Pittsburgh, perhaps 200 meters from PNC Park, there was a small group of “tent people” that lived under one of the underpasses. There were outhouses nearby because of construction and probably because of the sporting events as well.

    All the people were expelled about a year ago, and to keep them from coming back, they went ahead and fenced the whole area off.

    • WabacMachinist

      There’s an underpass community like that one not far from the Watergate in DC. Where’s Margaret Bourke-White now that we really need her?

      • Or Walker Evans. The text of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is fantastic, but it doesn’t stick in your head the way the photos do.

    • NobodySpecial

      Underpasses being fenced off is not a new thing. In Chicago, some underpasses even have multiple fenced off areas underneath. Of course, Rahm and the Third Way Democrats love this as much as any Republican ever did, so it’s just getting started.

  • sharonT

    It probably won’t be a surprise, but Baltimore City government has been doing things like this for years. There was a pocket park at the south end of my mid-town neighborhood with a group of 5 park benches. Homeless people would sleep on those benches. I’m sure that one of the neighbors complained, so DPW came out and cut up the benches into single seats on posts. All of the seating at light rail stations downtown are single seats on a horizontal pole. You can’t arrange them to sleep on them.

    The city got into a fight with the archdiocese because they had the temerity to sit a soup kitchen next to the basilica.

    • joe from Lowell

      The Lowell City Council tried to stop St. Anne’s Episcopal Church – the one they feature in the downtown ad campaign – from opening a day-services facility in one of its buildings.

      Do you know why the city governments failed, and the homeless services opened?

      Religious exemptions.

      • DocAmazing

        The SF archdiocese got a li’l embarrassed when it was revealed that they use a sprinkler system to douse homeless people lying on their porch.

        Boomtown SF being what it is (i.e., douchebag-infested), much of the trouble they got into was due to inappropriate use of water during a drought.

        • muddy

          The best part was that they picked up the idea in the financial district and thought it would be perfect for a church.

          I tell you I am tired of waiting for Jesus to come back and kick these people’s tables over!

        • joe from Lowell

          “There’s a drought on! Stop washing the homeless!”

          Lovely.

          I just googled that and found out it was recent, during Francis’ papacy. In a city called San Francisco, of all things.

          No wonder he went off on his cardinals.

    • Amanda in the South Bay

      I’ve seen the same thing with underground MUNI stations, i.e. removing benches and having really narrow single person seats.

      Also downtown Santa Cruz, sometime around 2009 I’d imagine, added those kinds of spikes and barries on a lot of concrete downtown that used to be sitable.

      For those of us who take public transit and are often about on foot in cities, these things are very noticeable.

      • DocAmazing

        Bus shelters with benches removed and flip-up seats installed were an early sign of the trend.

      • nixnutz

        It’s been ages but I bummed my way through Santa Cruz and I remember they had pretty aggressive laws discouraging homeless folks from hanging around. Mostly I remember going to a free meal where they made us listen to a whole sermon and then fed us cottage cheese sandwiches, that was enough to encourage me to move along.

        • Hogan

          You’ll get pie in the sky when you die. (That’s a lie!)

          • DocAmazing

            But cottage cheese after our wheeze on your knees.

    • Richard Hershberger

      Weirder, still in Baltimore, is what happened in the Market Place plaza downtown. This plaza has bars with interesting beer selections, a live music venue, a kids’ museum, and so forth. In other words, it is clearly intended to be a public space. In the middle is a fountain, and surrounding the fountain, near enough to enjoy it but far enough way to not get soaked, is a circle of concrete spheres, suitable for sitting on while eating lunch: downtown workers during the week, and families with kids on the weekends. They recently installed cast iron “crowns” with points on the spheres, so you can’t sit on them. I have not heard anything official, but it seems likely that the imperative to prevent the wrong sort of person from sitting and enjoying the fountain was so strong that they couldn’t even let the right sort of person do it.

      • sharonT

        That’s just so counterintuitive given how much money the city has invested in that area to make an attractive place to visit. It seems like local government is trying to do everything they can to make the Harbor and Harbor East area inhospitable to the homeless or even the poor families that live within spitting distance of the Harbor.

      • Katya

        I think this when I see these kinds of things–it’s not just the homeless who are injured, although their injury is of a more acute and serious kind. It’s kind of the opposite of curb cuts–intended to assist people in wheelchairs, they turned out to be helpful for strollers, for example. Here, the efforts to make a city inhospitable to the homeless also make it less hospitable to everyone. Those single seats replacing benches in stations mentioned above–those are incredibly inconvenient if you have a baby with you and need just a smidge more space. Decisions like that send a message that a place is not welcoming, and the message isn’t limited to its intended targets.

        • joe from Lowell

          Harrumph harrumph!

          Best comment of the week.

        • Aimai

          Yes, great comment.

        • Lee Rudolph

          the message isn’t limited to its intended targets

          Oh, I think it is, to the extent that—just as they don’t ride on public transportation—the Very Important People don’t sit on benches, etc., etc.

          Now, certainly there are others involved who have intentions with finely differentiated targets. But at the end of the day, I think that the intentions of Very Important People are … very important, and their targets are not really very finely differentiated at the Unimportant People end.

    • John not McCain

      In Buffalo, the new benches at the remodeled above ground stations are much smaller than the old ones. They aren’t long enough for an adult to lay down on. And to make sure nobody tries, there’s a metal bar running down the middle.

  • CrunchyFrog

    When you own a big chunk of the bloody third world, well the beggars just come with the scenery.

    • John Revolta

      I still swear she says, “I’m standin’ in the middle of life with my pants behind me”.

      • Honoré De Ballsack

        I still swear she says, “I’m standin’ in the middle of life with my pants behind me”.

        I always heard it that way too, and assumed it was “pants,” since that didn’t seem incongruous to the irreverent tone of her previous lyrics. The various lyrics websites are about evenly split between “pains,” “plans,” and “past,” so who knows.

        (OT: during the course of my research on the topic I also discovered that the similarly-incomprehensible line in “Brass In Pocket” is “Got a new skank, so reet.” All the sources agree on that one, so I assume it must’ve been printed on the LP sleeve.)

    • Huh! And here I thought it was “Babies just come with the scenery”…

      Oh wait, it IS!

      “Past corrugated tin shacks full up with kids
      Oh man I don’t mean a Hampstead nursery
      But when you own a big chunk of the bloody third world
      The babies just come with the scenery”

  • Mike Davis wrote about this in City of Quartz a long time ago.

    • Baby Needs-A-Nym
      • Pat

        They sleep on the lawn of City Hall in El Lay, rolled up in blankets, in the middle of the day.

        Or you see them if you’re down in the toy district early in the morning, when the shops roll up their doors and the shopkeepers come out with brooms to chase the homeless off the front sidewalk, all limping and wretched from sleeping on pavement.

        Or they used to, anyway.

        • John Revolta

          The last time I was there, they had cots set up on a parking lot about two or three blocks from City Hall. Like, dozens & dozens. I was surprised but I figured this was where all the guys Giuliani was throwing out of NYC were ending up.

          • Venice Beach. That may be where they day spa, however, but the last time I was in LA, I remember thinking “I haven’t seen homeless in these numbers in a long time.”

    • Linnaeus

      Beat me to it. That’s probably Davis’s best book, IMHO.

    • PotemkinMetropolitanRegion

      Created an account to mention this. When visiting LA for the first time, my wife (an architect) and I made a special trip to see the West Hollywood Library for ourselves. Someone had just stolen a book and was running away and the fire alarm went on for nearly 15 minutes because no one could turn it off.

      Anyway, LA has been a leader of this tend for nearly 30 years.

      • Quality nym.

        • PotemkinMetropolitanRegion

          Thanks Erik; looking forward to interacting with LGM.

        • joe from Lowell

          I was just thinking that.

    • His Ecology of Fear is also very good.

  • On the other hand, I camped out under

    The Airplane: Young pilots and co-pilots will enjoy a fully-accessible cockpit loaded with features. They can communicate with the Control Tower via a talk tube radio and plan their route on the navigation panels.

    on the left March through Sep’t. 2008 & was only rousted once, by a park police ossifer who told me he’d ticket me if he saw me there again that night. Never saw the park police again, or L.A.P.D. ever.

  • MrMister

    The prose in that article excerpt gives me hives, but it’s true that anti-homeless design is en vogue now. I’ve noticed it firsthand on those occasions that I’ve been tired in public during daylight hours and wanted to take a nap–it’s remarkably hard to do without being a paying customer somewhere, and even then many establishments won’t let you sleep.

    • witlesschum

      It’s against city ordinance to sleep on a park bench in downtown Kalamazoo, or so said the cop who harassed my wife when she decided to stretch out in the sunshine on a bench near a fountain after she hit the library.

  • MAJeff

    I wonder how such design is taught in architectural school, and what kinds of shitty human beings develop such curricula.

  • matt w

    From Wales to Vienna, cages are erected near heat exhausts where the homeless seek warmth.

    The ragged stand in bags
    Soaking heat up through their feet
    This was the only kindness!
    And it was accidental too

  • Semi-OT: a suggestion for San Francisco that could be applied to the major avenues in Manhattan as well. Narrow streets, more housing.

    • For example, Park Avenue (NYC) used to have real mini-parks in the center. There’s no reason that wide streets couldn’t be broken up, particularly when their width is out of scale with their surroundings, like 6th or 7th avenues in Greenwich Village.

        • Manju

          Whoa. Cool.

      • Manju

        and then there’s Queens Boulevard.

      • Realistically, tho: what could you actually build on even the wider center divider? You’d need a sidewalk of some sort, vehicular access that wouldn’t block traffic (after all, things have to be delivered, like furniture and food), and you’d have to accommodate the venting to the Metro North rails below (which is why these were designed in the first place).

        Manhattan (and New York in general) poses a unique challenge to housing the poor. Most of our more decrepit spaces that are ready for replacement are on the waterfront. Developers know that rich people will pay gobs of money even to overlook the Gowanus Fucking Superfund site, so they’re not about to turn that into affordable shelter.

    • DocAmazing

      Can’t speak for Manhattan, but that would be a heavy lift politically in San Francisco. There’s a fairly strong motorist lobby that doesn’t get the whole “dense city, mass transit necessary” thing–lots of ex-suburbanites have moved here. Remove lanes of traffic, and tech billionaires start sponsoring stupid ballot initiatives.

      • NewishLawyer

        That’s bullshit and you know it. There is not a new number of subrbanites coming into SF and turning it into car paradise. Lots of apartment buildings have garages and/or parking lots in the back and these places were built long before tech was a thing.

        There are also businesses that have been around for decades with parking lots. SF has been car friendly since the Trollies were torn up in the 1950s.

        • DocAmazing

          Guess you must have missed Sean Parker and his pro-parking ballot measure, the increase in anti-Bike Coalition pieces in the comment sections of SFist and SFGate, and the proliferation of traffic along previously quiet streets over the past four years. We’ve got a large pro-motorist backlash going on, and much of it is being driven (see what I did there?) by n00bs from bus-less places.

      • It’s probably impossible for political reasons anywhere in the US. Still worth looking at.

        • joe from Lowell

          On the other hand, San Francisco actually took down the rest of that elevated highway after the earthquake. I was pretty amazed that a city actually did that.

    • NewishLawyer

      I don’t think that is going to fly in SF and not for the reasons that Doc Amazing laid out. Americans just really like their cars and SF was always more car friendly than NY. My building was built around 1940 and it has a garage! There are parking lots for stores all around San Francisco and these parking lots have been here way longer than tech.

    • Manju

      Also, narrow streets look better.

      • Manju

        although the Seagram Building does the whole Park Avenue space thing justice.

  • NewishLawyer

    As a San Franciscan who isn’t an anarchist like Doc Amazing, I feel torn about various issues.

    1. The anti-poor architecture is rather horrible and I would like to live in a world where everyone had proper housing but I don’t live in that world.

    2. On the other hand, the Haight is overrun by various street kids. There are debates about how many of these kids are honestly without a home and how many are merely doing a kind of performance art to pretend it is 1967. What I do know is that they come in various ranges of misbehavior. The least annoying just hang around and are an obstacle to get around. Some just panhandle with signs or mumble “do you want some weed?” Others can be very aggressive if you don’t give them money and will bark back hard. A lot of my female friends feel very harassed around the Haight and refuse to go there.

    3. I wonder if there is a compassion fatigue angle especially when you see the same beggars in the same spot day in and day out. There is an old woman who hangs around Battery and California. She has been there for years. She wears a Babushka and looks very out of it. She just says “Do you have a dollar for a cup of coffee?” There is another guy I have seen in my neighborhood who asks “Can you spare some change for some chicken?” in a very plaintive voice. I have lived in my neighborhood for nearly seven years! On some level, I want both these people to be grifters because it is just less sad but seeing both day in and day out without any change just wears me down for reasons I can’t quite articulate or explain very well.

    • JL

      What does being an anarchist or not have to do with whether your response to homeless people is supportive or cynical?

      It’s not exactly a secret either that a huge portion of LGBTQ youth are homeless at some point – a Children’s Hospital Boston study found that 25% of gay/lesbian teens and 15% of bi teens are homeless at some point, compared to 3% of straight teens – or that a very large portion of the kids on the Haight are LGBTQ. According to the Homeless Youth Alliance, which presumably knows something about the homeless kids in its own neighborhood, almost half of the homeless youth age 13-29 of the Haight are LGBTQ – given SF’s image as a queer haven, it’s not surprising. This article and the “discussed last year” link within it also have interesting discussion about the young homeless people of the Haight.

      Cambridge and Boston, especially Harvard Square, can have a similar, if less concentrated, dynamic, with lots of punkish-looking street kids. Parts of NYC also have this dynamic. I’ve known a few of the Harvard ones (some of them moved into Occupy Boston’s camp while it was there and were very active in it – OWS had this going on too and I know a couple of those folks as well). One of the NYC street medics, someone with whom I’ve buddied a number of times, is the NYC version – a genderqueer kid from some heroin-doused shithole on Long Island who hoped that by coming to the big city they might avoid the addiction-to-OD pattern of their friends in similar situations. People assume, weirdly, that a homeless person who’s young and not visibly disabled must be play-acting. But what about all the kicked-out queer kids, all the kids fleeing abusive homes, all the kids who get out of juvie or the foster care system – both of which have grossly inadequate transition programs in many areas – with nowhere to go?

      It’s unfortunate that so many of your female friends are harassed in the Haight and won’t go there. Though this was not my experience walking in the Haight, I want to acknowledge it. I feel like surely a better solution than “Eh, screw these homeless kids, they’re probably just trying to re-enact ’60s hippie-dom anyway” would be better prevention – better transition for foster kids, fighting homophobia and transphobia, etc – and scaled-up versions of the services that HYA (which was evicted a while back but still provides services from a van) or Larkin Street Youth Services provide, combined with instituting Housing First for the ones who are legally old enough to have their own housing.

      • Pat

        This is why I like you, JL: you’d rather try to solve the problem then complain about it. And make the world a little bit better.

        • What if the problem is a lack of complaining? What then? Huh? Huh?

          • Pat

            Well, I haven’t exactly seen a lack of complaining in a long while. But bears solve problems in their own way, I’ve heard.

      • Aimai

        I’m going to get into trouble for saying this, no doubt, but there are different populations of homeless people and people are entitled to have had different experiences of them, especially in different locations or at different times in their lives. I actually cook for the homeless teens in Harvard Square (part of the wide variety of women who do or who support the Youth On Fire organization). Those kids are not a problem for me though they do have a problem that I would like to see solved for their sakes.

        But I have also experienced severe harrassment from homeless guys, adult men, in Berkeley when I lived there and in San Francisco when I would go there. There are people with serious mental illness, serious substance abuse problems, and serious social disorders who are living on the street because poverty or alienation from their own family and friends has forced them out of housing. This is not ok and it makes the city an unpleasant and unsafe place for everyone.

        There is a third issue which is a class issue: not everyone who upper class people see as problematically overusing public space, or cluttering up public space, is homeless or in need of more than a bump in pay. Lots of adult males, certainly, who have seasonal employment may spend part of their off work seasons looking like they are loafing or loitering because they are enjoying public spaces that their taxes pay for and that they may have built in a way that middle class people find disconcerting. I think that lots of middle class people see certain uses of public space as illegitimate because they associate it with shiftlessness, alcoholism, etc… but that’s the overhang from our puritan and suburban models of public space in which people are supposed to retreat to their homes and disguise their non productive/non remunerative selves in quiet luxury. The idea is that Public spaces are for transiting through on the way to work, or for brief periods of sanctioned play. And this is why there are so many nuisance arrests of working class and/or black people for grilling on their front stoops, or drinking in public, or congregating in public. Because the upper classes believe those things need to be policed–that working class people should be neither seen nor heard in public areas.

        • JL

          I was in fact hoping that you’d chime in, because I remembered that you cook for Youth on Fire.

          There are definitely different populations of homeless people. In your second paragraph, you’re talking about people who have serious problems functioning. I perceive the young homeless people on the Haight that NewishLawyer was talking about as comparable to the Youth on Fire kids, both demographically and in terms of general social functioning (and in fact, the Homeless Youth Alliance of the Haight, before it lost its building, had a lot in common with Youth on Fire). That’s why I focused on that particular subset of homeless people in my response to NewishLawyer.

          I have definitely experienced a fair amount of harassment from older homeless men who have probably been out there a long time that I have pretty much never experienced from young homeless men. Now that I think about it, in general, I get increased street harassment from older poor men but younger middle-class/rich men. I don’t know why that is, or if other people have had that experience.

          Your last paragraph makes a really good point that I hadn’t put together in quite that way before.

          • Aimai

            Hey JL, I’m still wondering when I’ll bump into you. Shoot me a line at aimaiami at comcast dot net if you have time Wednesday morning to attend a breakfast discussion of homelessness in Cambridge at the house of a friend of mine. These are usually discussions that bring local providers/activists together. From 8 to 8:30 is milling around and drinking (terrible) coffee and eating somebaked goods then we sit down and hear presentations.

            On the subject of street use and harrassment I have definitely noticed a difference, over the years, in who harrasses me and how and when. Came in for way more abuse when I was young and looked vulnerable or attractive or both. Now I’m generally ignored or hasselled for money rather than sex. Also people have gone from projecting their sexual issues onto me (seeing me as an avatar of their ex girlfriends) to haranguing or proto assaulting me as an avatar of all women, or a long forgotten sibling or parent. People get hassled and the same person who hassels you for one thing (or doesn’t hassel you at all) may turn around and be pretty damned hostile and agressive to the next person who hits their triggers or who looks vulnerable to that approach.

            I guess what I’m saying is that in my experience public spaces need a lot of tolerance and respect from all users and when (for whatever reason) people are using public spaces as their private home or place of business (soliciting or selling drugs) then both they and I can end up busting through that zone of privacy and anonymity that we need to get where we are going without feeling harrassed by other people’s demands. I don’t like being solicited for money, or for sex, by street people or by upper class twits. And they don’t like it when I brush past them and refuse to engage. But which of us is harrassing whom?

  • tsam

    and the militancy of advocates devoted to homeless rights and resistance, the policing of homelessness pushes them ever toward the city’s edge

    The fuck? Is militancy meant as the usual epithet hurled at feminists and gay rights advocates? Or am I just in a fighting mood?

    • It’s a way of calling them “extremists” without actually using that word.

      • tsam

        That’s what I thought. I don’t feel like being militant about preventing people from dying of starvation or exposure is extremist at all. No vice.

    • joe from Lowell

      It’s a compliment. You think this author dislikes militancy on behalf of the homeless?

      He could have written, “Despite the fervor with which advocates devoted to homeless rights and resistance fight to protect the, the policing of…”

      • tsam

        Then I am in a fighting mood, I guess. Poor choice of words on the author’s part. That word triggers defensiveness in me.

        You think this author dislikes militancy on behalf of the homeless?

        No, I was reading a “both sides do it and there’s a reasonable middle/third way” trope in it, as if both sides of the debate are just plain crazy.

  • sylvainsylvain

    Hoo boy.

    I run a parking garage in downtown Tulsa. Between the homeless and the skateboarders, what should be a customer service job becomes a security job.

    Sometimes I feel like a railroad bull, I’ve gotta be a bigger asshole than I’m comfortable with. Having said that, I’m also beyond tired of cleaning up broken bottles, feces, piss, and boxes of inappropriate food given to the homeless by the day center at the church a block away (really? Giving a homeless person a bag of flour seemed like a good idea??).

    • Pat

      To be the devil’s advocate, some people who go to food banks do have kitchens, but they don’t make enough to cover food after they pay rent. Thus, flour. Homeless people might take those items so people think they have a home.

      Still, maybe there’s some social workers that could come in to talk to the people who hide out in your garage. If they can get them out of there, you’ll have an easier time.

  • It’s not just the homeless, tho, altho the rentiers view that as a “delightful bonus”.

    It’s anyone with a sandwich and a soda and a desire to eat al fresco who has no public seating available to him or her. Yes, that monstrosity up top would indicate the ability to eat, but that’s one of the more passive barriers I’ve ever seen. In the city, they would range from spikes to almost literally barbed wire.

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