Benches, designed similar to this one, are found all over Southern California to try to prevent homeless people from sleeping on them. Several people who are homeless still manage to find a way to sleep on the benches whether that means sleeping sitting up or piling old dirty blankets or clothing up till it works; others opt for folded up cardboard on the ground. There is only one shelter bed available per four of the estimated 55,000 homeless people in LA; the rest of the homeless population takes to sleeping in cars, campers, tents, doorways, or benches on a nightly basis. Would you want to compete for a bed to sleep in every night? This bench proudly boasts, "City of Hermosa Beach." Labeling this divided bench seems to relay, “as a city, we do not want homeless people to feel comfortable sleeping here.”
I chose this photo because this bench design seems to beg ethical questions. Who should have access to these benches and for what purposes? What message is being sent by the city/cities which incorporate these? I think it is important to start a conversation on whether these practices by cities are appropriate. The middle divider on the benches to prevent sleeping further portrays the NIMBY (not in my backyard) movement. We know homeless people need somewhere to sleep, but we do not want that to happen where we eat, shop, or visit regularly. This simple addition to a bench shows the lack of care and support for our homeless population and relays the toxic reality that LA's homeless people deal with on a daily basis.
Crystal Jones, "Created Image - Anti-Homeless Bench", contributed by Crystal Jones, Center for Ethnography, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 20 May 2019, accessed 4 December 2021.