Rights Battles Emerge in Cities Where Homelessness Can Be a Crime
As winter bares down on some of the larger metropolitan areas, this article explores the morality of some of the laws that leave the homeless stranded in crippling temperatures. At the center of the debate is the law imposed by many cities banning “urban camping” and recent videos that have surfaced showing police issuing citations to residents of an encampment in Denver. This brings to light the “civic soul-searching” that cities must partake in as activists continue to push for the right to rest as a civil right for the homeless. Portland saw its progressive homeless law that allowed tent camping and sidewalk sleeping revoked this month after a sea of complaints flooded the mayor’s office. Though initially unsuccessful, Portland represents a progressive city attempting to address homelessness and its policies would surely be deemed more successful if there were designed spaces integrated into the landscape that could serve as a public space and a refuge for area homeless. If this were the case, would right to rest and urban camping be seamlessly and effectively added to the urban fabric.
AFTER YEARS ON THE STREETS, HOMELESS VETS IN D.C. GET BUILDING TO CALL THEIR OWN
Here, an east coast example of the housing first initiative is highlighted, the John and Jill Ker Conway Residence, which mirrors examples of buildings a part of the Skid Row Housing Trust, with its modern design and intentional focus on quality of housing. This landmark project for Washington D.C, focuses on addressing the local homeless veterans, providing 60 one room apartments for veterans and 64 more affordable and low-income housing units. Buildings like this one and many other housing first projects often do not incorporate a vision for the landscape, be that for budget reasons or lack of consideration but it is worth noting that community in these dwellings is important. Community is fostered through shared space and connection which builds trust and creates security. Many projects may lack space required for such amenities as large plazas but as seen in some of the thoughtful designs of Michael Maltzan in the Skid Row Housing Trust buildings, rooftop gardens give residents a natural place of repose and connection to place. Guidelines for such landscape considerations could be adopted for housing first projects if the significance of the landscape, be it large or small, was understood to be of importance. Regardless, this new project represents a hopeful trend on the other side of the country, rethinking the way homelessness is addressed.
After arrests, ‘Tampa Food Not Bombs’ say it will continue to feed the homeless – without a permit – SaintPetersBlog