Spikes Installed to Keep Homeless People Away

As if the lives of homeless people weren’t already difficult enough, property owners have found a new way to stick thorns in the homeless population’s sides… literally, even. After a man began taking overnight shelter near an apartment’s doorway, the apartment installed metal spikes on the ground to ensure that sleeping in the spot would prove uncomfortable.

The spikes, which appeared around luxury apartment complexes in Southwark, have attracted a lot of attention for their apparent cruelty. Thus far, the apartment’s management has been vague about who ordered the spikes as well as which company helped to install them. Many of the residents, however, are not in favor of this new feature. “I feel really uncomfortable having these spikes in front of my home,” said Emi Takehara, one of the building’s tenants. “They’re treating these homeless people like animals, nothing less.”

Although media attention is focusing on the one specific apartment building, blogger Mike Ashworth has photographic evidence of at least one other location in London that has started utilizing “defensive architecture” in a bid to keep homeless people away. Another news report notes that the spikes are gaining in popularity amongst private property owners:

The reason for the sudden jump in spike installations is hardly a secret. According to homeless charities, the homeless rate in London has increased by 75% in the past three years alone. British homeless advocate Katharine Sacks-Jones spoke to remind people of the ongoing lack of humanity. “Behind these numbers are real people struggling with a lack of housing, cuts to benefits and cuts to homelessness services to help them rebuild their lives,” she said.

In addition to public outcry, London’s Mayor Boris Johnson has gone on the record as opposing the spikes. On Twitter, he commented that the spikes are “ugly, self defeating, and stupid.” He added that the “developer should remove them ASAP.” While city officials can advocate for their removal, legally, there probably isn’t much that can be done to force the apartment to get rid of them so long as the spikes don’t go against existing building codes and regulations.

While spikes may be a “solution” for getting homeless people to not sleep in a specific location, it’s really not much of a solution at all. In essence, all it really does is push people looking for a relatively safe and comfortable place to spend the night to another location. Rather than fixing the problem, the approach just passes it off to someone else to deal with instead.

Spikes are similar to many of the laws passed in America that prevent people serving food to homeless populations and sleeping on the sidewalks. None of these laws stop people from living on the streets, they just serve to make their lives more difficult. Unfortunately, given the current hostility toward homeless people, it seems more likely that we’ll see these spikes make their way to the United States instead of taking proactive steps to assist the homeless.

Photo Credit: Andrew Horton

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Helga Ganguly
Helga Ganguly11 months ago

So this is what the elderly and the young have to look forward to. This is the last month we have money to pay the mortgage .So I'll be seeing you soon spikes.

Dale O.
DaleLovesOttawa O.about a year ago

The idea of installing spikes is ludicrous.

“I feel really uncomfortable having these spikes in front of my home,” said Emi Takehara, one of the building’s tenants. “They’re treating these homeless people like animals, nothing less.”

Often, it appears that the well-off wish to wall themselves off (or spike themselves off) from the world around them.

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Croweabout a year ago

These apartment complexes should be ashamed of themselves!!
People without homes need help, not hindrances!

Elizabeth L.
Elizabeth L.about a year ago

How many of the homeless people have moved to the UK from other countries to take advantage of the welfare system? That system is now overwhelmed by people that have no right to access it and and know enough to wrought it. The people it was set up to help i.e. the actual British people, are unable in many cases to have their needs met.
We now have beggars in London that certainly know their craft and are not home grown.
Streets now have to be cleaned from feces and urine and rubbish picked up from people squatting in street camps at night.
No country can afford the influx of people that the UK faces and not go under in the tide of humanity that demands more and more of the national pie without ever contributing a single penny to it.
The idea that every western country owes non citizens everything and has no right to secure borders will eventually bring down every western democracy.

Kathy L.
Kathy L.about a year ago

This is horrible!! I could understand businesses not wanting a homeless person sleeping there in the middle if the day during business hours. But who does it hurt when the business is closed. Maybe it's raining and it's the only place near by where they can keep dry. Sometimes I feel like there's no compassion in the world anymore.

Howard Crosse
Howard Crosseabout a year ago

In recent years the gap between those that have and those that don't has widened considerably in the UK. This is at a time when our current Government is reducing, by a considerable amount, the money available to support the poor. Against this background I fear that sights such as this might become more common.

Joerg Boettcher
Joerg Boettcherabout a year ago

Strange ideas these people must have installing spikes. I just wonder. I hope this discussion started through it gains enough power to do the more positive on the other hand. Maybe building a feeling of shame in these people who installed them first, finding better solutions as there were available before the spikes and less homeless and instead more happy and save people.

Yvette WETHERELLabout a year ago

Black Eyed Peas says it right: "where is the love?" It's obvious rich tyrants need to build less casinos and build more housing for the homeless. But it's easy to do more: I have a dream where they will offer funding to build these homes for the homeless and offer eco-environmentally sustainable agriculture practices onsite where they either work voluntarily or apprenticeships. Thus the homeless get homes, love and compassion and a sense of worth and purpose. I have other ideas but that's later....

ann B.
Ann K.about a year ago

Seems rather cruel when it is not usually their fault they become homeless.

Rosa Caldwell
Rosa Caldwellabout a year ago

What is the world coming to. Homelessness is not a crime. There by the grace of God, go I.