The built environment and indirect hidden relationship between passerby and the homeless and how this affects Atlanta as a whole.

How does the exact location and the placement of fixed furniture throughout Hurt park draws a large number of the homeless community, and create a sense of discomfort and intended ignorance from the residents of the surrounding Atlanta area?

Ribaciauskas, Arnas (Photograph). (2017, April) Hurt Park Sign [photograph], Atlanta, Georgia: arnasr.gsucreate.org/
To answer this question we have to break this question down to multiple, more simplistic questions to understand its true significance.

What is the exact  placement and form of the fixed furniture in hurt park?

Why do large numbers of the homeless community travel to Hurt park?

What keeps the homeless here around Hurt Park?

Why does their presence create a sense of discomfort and intended ignorance from other residents and passerby of the surrounding Atlanta area.

What is the exact  placement and form of the fixed furniture in hurt park?

Through out Hurt Park lies Cement created flat wide slightly curved benches that are generally 4 ft”  long and 1 ft’ wide.  These benches also are only about a foot off the ground. Another prominent feature of the park is the long, vertical low to ground cement railing connected to the sidewalks, allowing easy access to rest and enjoy the view. Multiple benches are also located under large trees provide shading for those using the public seating. Why would this matter, you may ask? It matters because these benches and railing are perfect for people to not only rest and sit on for long periods of time but also sleep on. The people who would most benefit from this is the homeless community themselves, as they are always worrying about what areas are safe to rest in, where they can sleep without worrying about their few personal belongings and their own safety.  Parks such as Hurt Park provide the perfect resting place for the homeless community as well of its other benefits.

Why do large numbers of the homeless community travel to Hurt park?

Location is critical. The area is easily accessible by Marta Station, Street  Car, near exit ramps for I-85 and I-75, as well as being placed surrounded by a Georgia State campus.  Meaning multiple access routes and multiple ways to travel to Hurt park. This matters for many reasons including high traffic flow of pedestrians from college students, staff, commuters, and home residents traveling by foot on their daily routines. This allows them to beg more as well as more chances for people to feel pity for them and donate for their well being.  Also Georgia State University remains homeless friendly compared to other universities such as Georgia Tech, by holding food drives, community open events, and allowing them access to public resources, such as libraries, computer labs and bathrooms as long as they follow the proper guidelines and protocol. 

Most Importantly, the park is inviting! It provides an area for them to sleep with raised vertical railing and flat, long benches as well as shading from the trees,  allow adequate conditions for sleeping as well as large open center flat grass area for laying and resting. This as well as incredibly high homeless population densities throughout Atlanta’s counties means homeless shelters and additions are regularly over crowded and flooding, meaning very little to no space for the excess homeless people.

Finally  it’s creating a community for the homeless because of its location and large number of homeless residents who stay there for the above reasons, attracting more!

What keeps the homeless here around Hurt Park?

The community itself attracts them, for many this is not only a sanctuary from the Atlanta’s muni-codes, it allows them to meet their friends and others in a same situation. They exchange stories, share each other’s company and enjoy the security of a larger group from looters. Also Georgia State University students are more open to the homeless community then compared to other surrounding residents. Allison Spann, A GSU student states “It is as if the homeless are too students of the university.” when referring to Georgia State University showing the normality of their presence and indirect relationship the students and homeless have (Spann, A.).

Hurt Park being located around a college campus adds more compared to other parks, through increased police presence gives them extra security while on park grounds. This allows them to feel more safe for their possessions while they sleep while also providing lower risks for potential crimes based on its location around a college campus.

Why does their presence create a sense of discomfort and intended ignorance from other residents and passerby of the surrounding Atlanta area.

Another view is that inherent biased negative views and interpretations, US citizens have of the homeless from personal views to the justice system. The National Homeless Organization claims US Citizens have a natural inclination to view being homeless to be linked to crime  and vice versa. People who live their lives on the street are frequently understood, from a policy perspective, as a feature of public life that exacerbates fear of crime. “Indeed, when it comes to attempts to alleviate fear of crime, … crime prevention efforts can have a contradictory impact and significance for those who are at once frequent victims, frequent offenders and frequently ‘moved on’” (Newburn and Rock, 2005, p.18). We use counter crime policies to clean the streets or rough sleepers and beggars to sanitize the streets and reduce the fear in the public mind. This cause us to inherently victimize the homeless on a regular basis.

Priestley, J. L. (2014, July). 2013 Report on Homelessness. Retrieved March 8, 2017, from
http://www.dca.ga.gov/housing/specialneeds/programs/documents/DCAHomelessnessReport2013.pdf

 Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs stated “The unifying condition for virtually all of Georgia’s homeless population is poverty.”(Priestley, J. L. 2014, July). The homeless are inherently poor, people subconsciously avoid things that bring up unpleasant emotions by either ignoring or avoiding them. Some may argue people want to always help their fellow man, while that may be the case for some, it’s not the majority, most avoid these interactions and how far does generosity itself go? When Homeless populations increase in a specific area, it increases competition within that community, as well as increases strain on the homeless and the generosity of passerby as increased pestering and begging can lead to a negative outlook from people living in the surrounding areas. Constant begging and pestering leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths, making them more agitated or annoyed by their surroundings.

Kevin, a homeless man interviewed by the Task Force for the Homeless, stated “nobody has the right to expect people to help.  It’s their money to decide what they want to do with it.  I just think I have a right to tell somebody what I need, and let them decide.” (Illegal to be Homeless.)

For Example: some might argue that if you were feeling generous you may donate a dollar to a homeless man you saw alone in a park but if you saw ten homeless people in a park all together you would be less likely to give away that dollar because now you may feel wrong to only give one of them a dollar while not giving to the others. You may also feel that your generosity doesn’t extend that far if instead of giving one dollar to the lone homeless man, you felt you needed to give a dollar to all nearby homeless people you may not have that wealth to give.