That bench won't be yours forever.
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When designing urban spaces, city planners have many competing interests to balance. After all, cities are some of the most diverse places on the planet. They need to be built for a variety of needs.
In recent years, these competing interests have surfaced conflict over an unlikely interest: purposefully uncomfortable benches.
Enter the New York City MTA. They’ve installed 'leaning bars’ to supplement traditional benches & save platform space. But designs like this carry an often invisible cost: they rob citizens of hospitable public space. And the people who experience this cost most directly are those experiencing homelessness.
A few notes of thanks:
First to Historian A. Roger Ekirch who kindly got me up to speed on the expansion of streetlights in historic western city districts.
Another thanks goes to author Veronica Harnish, who outlined some of the pitfalls that people experiencing homelessness face when choosing between sleeping rough or utilizing emergency shelters. You can read her blog here: http://car-living.blogspot.com/
A third thank you goes to the staff at the Unites States Interagency Council on Homelessness — they supplied the map in this video, as well as some aggregate statistics of the United States homeless population. Those numbers come from a variety of annual ‘Point-In-Time’ counts. The 2018 event will take place in late January, and the process depends on volunteers — so if you'd like to participate, you can find your local organizer here: https://www.hudexchange.info/grantees/find-a-grant
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