Anti-homeless measures in many modern cities

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 03 Jul 2014

PETALING JAYA: With the ban on soup kitchens in the city centre, Kuala Lumpur has joined the ranks of cities that enforce anti-homeless measures.

In the US, 33 cities have blocked meal-sharing or are considering restrictions on food sharing, NBC News reported. 

The National Coalition for the Homeless, which shared a draft of its upcoming report with the news organisation, revealed that police in at least four municipalities have recently fined, removed or threatened to jail private groups that fed the homeless instead of leaving the job to government-run service agencies.

In 2012, hundreds of large concrete spikes were installed under a bridge in Guangzhou, China as it was a popular shelter for homeless people.

This earned the ire of Chinese netizens on Weibo, a microblogging website, though city officials denied responsibility for the anti-homeless measure.

Certain locations in other cities are also guilty of discouraging the presence of the homeless, such as inch-high metal spikes placed outside a luxury apartment block in London to prevent people from taking refuge at its doorway. 

London mayor Boris Johnson condemned the spikes as “ugly, self-defeating and stupid”, and an online petition at saw over 130,000 signatories calling for the spikes to be removed. 

Activists also poured concrete on similar “anti-homeless spikes” spotted outside a Tesco store in Regent Street, London, which prompted the supermarket’s management to remove the offending objects. 

In Canada, spikes surfaced outside the storefront of Archambault, a books, music and movie shop in downtown Montreal, though the company reportedly did not ask for the installation of said deterrents. 

Like his London counterpart, Mayor Denis Coderre tweeted his outrage, and the spikes were swiftly removed. 

Netizens have also tweeted pictures of spikes spotted in Wall Street, New York and outside a bank in Paris, France. 

In a more worrying design development, The Guardian also reported the rise of hostile architecture, where modern city planning subtly excludes certain groups from loitering around public areas. 

This can include studded ground-level window ledges to prevent sitting, slanting seats at bus stops to deter loitering and the division of public benches with armrests to prevent the homeless from lying down to rest.
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