If you haven’t heard of or seen anti-homeless spikes, they are designed to prevent homeless people from sitting or sleeping on concrete steps. They are a prime example of how urban planning creates spaces and tools to deter homeless people instead of creating spaces to assist and uplift them.
Of course, not all concrete steps in all cities have spikes on them. However, cities like Montreal and Tokyo have implemented these anti-homeless spikes in certain areas so that people can’t rest for long. The issue is that these spikes do nothing to fight homelessness. They are another tool to make homeless people invisible. They disguise the problem rather than solve it.
Leah Borromeo is a member of an art collective called “Space, Not Spikes” who are fed up with what she describes as “hostile architecture”. In an interview with Upworthy, she explains the effect of the spikes: “Spikes do nothing more than shoo the realities of poverty and inequality away from your backyard — so you don’t have to see it or confront what you can do to make things more equal…And that is really selfish.”
She adds that “our moral compass is skewed if we think things like this are acceptable.” To combat the spikes, “Space, Not Spikes” has reclaimed these areas and have placed beds, pillows, and bookshelves stocked with books. This move by “Space, Not Spikes” has garnered media attention from all the world. Most notably, they received a shoutout from musician Ellie Goulding on her Instagram page.
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