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Anti-homeless spikes: London's homeless now have to deal with 'anti-hobo' spikes

Unless you’re a homeless magician who enjoys the famed bed of nails trick, you won’t like this story – anti-homeless spikes have been installed in the pavement in front of one of London’s new luxury apartments, evidently as a means to prevent the homeless from bedding down.

Reports the AFP via Yahoo! News today: “The installation of pavement spikes to stop homeless people sleeping outside a London building sparked outrage on Tuesday, with 40,000 people signing a petition in protest and Mayor Boris Johnson calling them ‘stupid.’”

While the one-inch tall spikes are not sharp, they certainly are designed to prevent anyone from laying down on the ground. Residents of the Southwark housing development said that a homeless man had been seen frequenting an alcove in front of the complex just last week, evidently leading to a decision to install spikes in the concrete.

A petition was initiated against London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, but the mayor said he had nothing to do with it and condemns the spikes. “Spikes outside Southwark housing development to deter rough sleeping are ugly, self defeating & stupid. Developer should remove them ASAP,” the mayor wrote on Twitter on Monday.

A petition calling for their removal is already up and running. The petition, as of the writing of this article, had over 86,000 supporters. The author of the petition, London resident Harriet Wells, wrote in part:

As a Mental health nurse in London I have all too often seen the result of isolating and mistreating our city's homeless. We should be offering practical and emotional support to help the most vulnerable to get back on their feet. We should not be sending them the message that they are pests that need to be warded off… We should be looking after our vulnerable population not ostracizing them by moving them to places that are less intrusive to our lives, so that they are out of sight.

According to the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, a Canadian homeless advocacy group, anti-homeless spikes are not as uncommon as we may think.

“I've seen them around, I've seen them here in Calgary and I've seen them in other cities around Canada,” commented the head of Canadian Alliance, Tim Richter. “Typically outside high-rise buildings. It is the same kind of thing that lots of places do to deter skate boarding. The last time I saw them was right outside a C-train station in Calgary. They are unfortunately fairly common.”

Comments on Twitter and other social media varied in opinion. Some roundly condemned the spikes, others pointed out a possible context behind the move.

These Anti homeless studs are like the spikes they use to keep pigeons off buildings. The destitute now considered vermin? – David Wells

There will be a context behind those anti-homeless spikes. Possibly a last resort against someone who was aggressive and refused housing. – Gavin Logan

It's sad. It demonstrates a meanness and a lack of humanity for people. – Kathrine Stokes

According to the UK’s Telegraph, one man asked: “But would you want homeless people outside your door?” We all would likely say no to that question, but what do we think about laying down metal spikes to make our point? Leave your thoughts below.

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