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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Viewshed Gentrification: Homeless Displacement

Tues 9.08 21m

Yesterday I wrote a post that mentioned my appreciation that Pittsburgh (city, county) doesn't roust homeless people. Today I saw that the Second Ave homeless camp is wiped clean, no trace; it's as if it never existed.

Turns out there is a cycle of complaints and evictions; when the City gets sufficient complaints, the police force the people off the site. That explains the recent appearance of tents under the 31st Street Bridge, and the outside sleeper by the Casino.

I don't know what the answer is to this. I don't like forced displacement and suppression because people don't like to see the homeless, to be reminded of their existence. I think they have a struggle to survive that's driven by a lot of different factors, and I don't know that society should be displacing them because of awkward optics. Call it "viewshed gentrification"; forced displacement with nobody moving in behind them, in an attempt to maintain pleasing visual sightlines.

I don't think there's any easy solution, although Utah has done some interesting stuff. But in the spirit of "first, do no harm" we could certainly not make things harder for these people in the interest of appearances.


Rode from the Northside to Oakland. Crossed the tracks to see the lake in Panther Hollow for the first time. Descended and stopped at REI for socks, which somehow cost $20/pair. Stuffed them in my panniers, still reminding me of the tiny objective differences between myself and the homeless guys.

Rolled over to OTB Southside and met two cyclists pushing off for DC, planning a nine day trip. One was riding a CoMotion step-through I've been seeing at Golden Triangle, a very sweet bike. Back to the Bastille and feeling the heat.

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