Un-benching The Homeless

I came across a disturbing news article while tag surfing yesterday. The link was posted at Livinintheloin.

The article begins by saying that about eight years ago, all the benches were removed from Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco to prevent homeless people from “camping” on them. But after a serious crackdown on criminal activity, Supervisor Sophie Maxwell says that it’s time to give visitors and government employees a place to rest and admire the architecture.

“The plaza is a beautiful place, [where] people could sit and think and look at the beauty around them,” Maxwell said. “There’s a concern about homelessness, but if you put the rest of us in this position because of the homeless, that’s not a good way to run a city.”

A concern about homelessness? Here is what the alleged concern about homelessness sounds like this to me:

The homeless are putting real people in a terrible position. I mean, we don’t want to recognize their existence or acknowledge them as being human. We want to pretend they don’t exist while we sit and think and admire the architecture before returning to our comfortable suburban homes or hotels to sleep on our pillow-top mattresses. The homeless are ruining the scenery for everyone!

That is not a concern about homelessness! There is no concern about homelessness here. There is a concern that the homeless will make real people uncomfortable, but that does not even resemble “a concern for homelessness”, not one jot or iota!

Good thing Maxwell knows how to run a city, though:

Maxwell’s proposal, which was introduced last week and will go before the Board of Supervisors today, specifically calls for benches that are equipped with armrests or a center barrier to make them uncomfortable to sleep on.

It’s a win/win! The real and deserving people get their benches back, and they’re specifically designed to prevent “the homeless” from reclining on them between police patrols. And the bonus is that even though the real people aren’t forced to look at the homeless at night (because they’re sleeping in their nice comfy beds) their seats in the Plaza are safe — the homeless can’t possibly lie down for a rest and leave their cooties everywhere.

The benches would be funded — as with benches in San Francisco’s other parks — by donors who sponsor them to remember loved ones, said Donalda Watson-Walkinshaw, who handles the bench-sponsorship program for the San Francisco Parks Trust.

Donors pay an average of $3,500 to $5,000 for benches in most other city parks — a fee that gets them the seat, a bronze plaque and 10 years of maintenance.

That’s nice. I wonder if any of the people donating the homeless-repellent benches donate anything to homeless shelters? Just a thought…

I am appalled by the indifference and what seems to be a complete and utter lack of compassion or empathy. In discussing how to “run a city” Maxwell’s priority is to install $5000 benches in Civic Center Plaza while her only mention of the homeless is to assure actual people that they (the homeless) won’t possibly be comfortable there. And that’s her idea of “a concern about homelessness”? I’d hate to see her ideas for the war on poverty.

These people are already homeless. How much more misery and humiliation does Maxwell want to subject them to? Her comments regarding homeless people are cruel and dehumanizing, and her only solution to the problem of homelessness seems to be to erase homeless people altogether.

That’s no way to run a city!

It also seems to run in direct to contrast to her own political agenda to both nurture and empower the City’s most vulnerable.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On

One response to “Un-benching The Homeless

  • Heidi

    And you know what? Most people do not want to hear about it – – it forces people to actually admit the shit in our own backyard. Thanks for putting it out there!!

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