How An English City Got This Building To Remove Its 'Anti-Homeless' Spikes Outside

It was a poor solution to address homelessness.

Last week, the owners of a Manchester city center building faced the collective wrath of local Manchester residents after news outlets reported that the building had installed "anti-homeless" spikes outside its block to deter homeless people from sleeping there. Piked strips were laid on the ground outside a section of the building in an effort to discourage the homeless from sprawling out, but the city's residents were strongly critical. 

After the Manchester Evening News posted a video of the spikes, viewers held a contentious debate on homelessness in its comments section. Some called it "disgusting" and "shameful," others criticized homeless people instead. 

By and large, though, Manchester residents were unhappy about the spikes. In response, one family decided to redecorate the area by covering it with a mountain of pillows and cushions. 

Jennie Platt and her two sons went out to buy pillows and cushions to turn the spiked corner into a welcoming place for the homeless. They bought snack and sandwiches for them, too, and wrote on a piece of cardboard, "Take a seat and have a bite to eat." Platt told the Manchester Evening News that installing the spikes was a "Scroogey" thing to do. "It is really unnecessary," she added.

Platt's efforts were praised on social media, and a few days after the outcry, MEN reported that the spikes had been removed. 

Hostile architecture is a common, albeit subtle sight in cities across the world. While it is used to hinder activities that a structure wasn't created for — skating on a park bench, for example — hostile design is most often intended to "discourage behavior associated with homeless people, such as sitting or lying in public spaces," wrote Coby McDonald in PopSci

While such spikes are commonplace in urban centers, spokesperson for the Manchester council city center Pat Kearney acknowledged that it was not a productive nor effective way to address homelessness: 

We all know there are a lot of difficulties in the city centre but he only way we can resolve them is for businesses and the council to work with homeless people and homeless charities.

Cover image via Phil MacD Photography / Shutterstock.

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