The bitter cold, police, drugs, and disease are just some of the adversaries that vagrants, or homeless people, have to deal with on a day to day basis. Recently a new and inhumane form of abuse towards vagrants has been popping up everywhere. Hostile architecture is everywhere from outside stores, on benches, around businesses, and on sidewalks. Hostile architecture is where businesses and property owners purposefully alter certain spaces to deter vagrants from sleeping or loitering there. Often times the designs are sneaky, and many people don’t notice them. For example some benches have an armrest down the middle, such as the one at the bus stop right outside of the plaza in front of Sonoma State University. This is to prevent vagrants from laying down and falling asleep on them. There are tons of other examples ranging from laying rocks underneath bridges to discourage vagrant’s tents, sprinklers designed to keep a certain place wet, fenced grates, floor spikes and blaring sounds over PA systems. All in efforts from keeping vagrants from loitering, because officials view them as unsightly animals rather than humans.
Vagrants have it hard enough without this added insult to their very existence. They have to deal with plunging temperatures late at night while looking for a clean, dry place to sleep. Usually they’d turn to underneath a bridge, on a bench, or underneath an awning. However with the uprising of hostile architecture that will soon be impossible. A clean, dry, and warm place to sleep could be the very difference from life and death for them. All vagrants aren’t just drug addicts as the media likes to portray, according to the Annual Homeless Assessment Report, or AHAR, around 21,500 of them have families they’re also trying to take care of. Weather and hunger are both something to worry about, but disease is also a danger. Unable to shower, and unable to access basic health products is deadly. Vagrants are three to six times more likely to suffer and/or die from the same, treatable illnesses people with homes obtain, reported the National Health Care for the Homeless Council. No doubt being unable to find a warm place to sleep is a contributor.
Instead of wasting money on cruel tactics, the state should take money and shovel it into programs to help the homeless. AHAR states that 68.2 percent of californians were either homeless or unsheltered in 2017, one of the highest state percentages in the country, and an insane amount of people. That many people should not be living out on the streets while very little is being done to help them. Luckily, California has announced it will be allocating $500 million to help vagrant programs around the state. Which is definitely a step in the right direction, although not nearly enough to truly make an impact. The L.A. Homeless Services Authority reported that it would take $657 million to shelter every homeless person in L.A. alone. Therefore, $500 million dollars for the entire state will not make a significant enough impact.
Hostile architecture can be a death sentence, especially with the recent drop in temperatures up north. Denying vagrants the most basic humans needs just because someone doesn’t like the way they break up the aesthetic of their storefront says more about that person than a vagrant’s homelessness does. This is a modern form of inhumane manslaughter that can not go ignored for the sake for vagrants lives. Using hostile architecture is much like putting a bandaid on a broken bone, ineffective and an unusual ‘solution’. The reality of the situation is even if all hostile architecture was discarded, the issue of homelessness is astronomically high, and if actions to actually take care of the issue at hand isn’t taken soon, hundreds more will quickly follow those who have already died due to the countries disregard of americans.