Sunday, January 17, 2016

Defensive Architecture and Tobit

I'm in the lower half of America's economic ladder, but I've never been homeless. That's just as well, since I've spent the bulk of my life in Minnesota and North Dakota. Winters get cold up here.

I am, however, a recovering English teacher; and I like to verify my assumptions about what words mean. Here's part of my country's definition of "homeless." There will not be a test on this:
  • "...the terms 'homeless', 'homeless individual', and 'homeless person' means— 
    • "(1) an individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence;
    • "(2) an individual or family with a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, including a car, park, abandoned building, bus or train station, airport, or camping ground;..."
    (Title 42 › Chapter 119 › Subchapter I › § 11302 - General definition of homeless individual, via Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law Library)
I had to read "primary nighttime residence ... camping ground" twice before I realized that most folks who sleep on "camping grounds" are there for a vacation: and have a "primary nighttime residence" elsewhere.

Folks become homeless for many reasons. Some lost their jobs, others were evicted — because they or their landlord couldn't pay rent or keep up mortgage payments. Sometimes war or natural disaster forces folks to leave their homes - - - - -.

It's a long list, and includes substance abuse and being crippled in body or mind.

Some folks end up on the street because of 'weak moral character,'1 some were just in the wrong place at the wrong time when life happened. Either way — I'll get back to that.

Places to Sleep

(From Getty Images, via CityMetric, used w/o permission.)
"How 'defensive architecture' is designing the homeless out of our cities"
Rowland Atkinson, Aidan While; CityMetric (January 4, 2016)

"On any one night in London, there around 700 people sleeping in the city’s streets. Rough sleeping is a risky decision – and almost always the choice of the most desperate. Yet the response of the state – and our society – is surprisingly hostile.

"Rough sleeping – and homelessness more generally – are on the rise. But austerity measures have made things worse, by cutting funds to vital support services. On top of this, rough sleepers have good reason to fear abusive behaviour from passers-by. Shockingly, this has even included physical attacks, resulting in documented deaths.

"But beyond the discomfort, the abuse and the absence of social support, there is another factor making life even more difficult for those sleeping on the streets. The very shape of our cities has started to reflect our hostility toward the homeless, in the form of design elements that prevent them from seeking refuge in public spaces. This phenomenon is known as 'defensive architecture'....."
I'm not sure what the authors meant by "London." A bit over 7,000 folks live in the City of London. About 8,500,689 lived in Greater London in 2014 — which doesn't tell me whether it's one of out ten Londoners sleep on the streets, or one in a thousand.

My guess is that they meant Greater London. One in ten residents on the street seems like a high percentage.

The good news in that CityMetric article, as I see it, is that some municipalities changed laws and regulations in an effort to protect folks at the low end. Some property owners are helping, too:
"Manchester United stars Neville and Giggs tell hotel squatters: stay for winter" (October 18, 2015)

"When Manchester United footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs got planning permission to turn the historic Manchester stock exchange into a boutique hotel ... they envisaged opening it up to an exclusive and moneyed clientele. Instead, a group of homeless people with little or no money have moved in – with Neville's blessing. Gary Neville’s kind gesture on squatting highlights growing rage over housing

"The hotel, which is undergoing extensive renovations before opening its doors to paying guests, was occupied on Sunday by a group of squatters and housing activists called the Manchester Angels. Instead of the usual response of property owners – rushing to court to obtain an order to get the uninvited new incumbents evicted – the famous ex-footballers who own the building have told them they can stay, not just for a few days, but throughout the coldest months of the winter...."

Faith, Works, and All That

So, why should I care? Short answer: I'm a Christian, and take my faith seriously.

Like it says in Tobit 4:7: "...Do not turn your face away from any of the poor, and God's face will not be turned away from you."

Feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead, are "corporal works of mercy." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2447)

Thinking nice thoughts is nice: but we're supposed to do something about what we believe.
"6 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?

"If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day,

"and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,' but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?"
(James 2:15-16)
I'm not wracked with guilt and shame because some property owners discourage homeless folks from sleeping on their stoops.

Participation in social life and working for the common good is important. So is taking part in public life as far as possible. (Catechism, 1897-1917, particularly 1913-1914).

I'm not opening a boutique hotel in Manchester, and don't determine zoning regulation for the City of London. But I can write about what's happening, and "...promote institutions that improve the conditions of human life...." (Catechism, 1916)

At the moment, that's about the extent of my 'as far as possible' response.

As a Catholic, I'm inclined to look at Catholic outfits first, like Caritas in England and Wales Network (CSAN), "the official agency of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales for domestic social action."

It looks like they're doing a good job, but I recommend checking out any charity before donating. (March 17, 2011)

"Dignity of the Human Person"

I think I understand the feelings of property owners and others who act against folks who are not friends, clients, or customers.

However, I realize that folks who are at the bottom of the social ladder are people, too.

Living much of my life with undiagnosed neurological glitches helps, and that's another topic. (February 8, 2015; December 14, 2014)

I take our Lord seriously, so I figure I should love God, love my neighbor, see everybody as my neighbor, and treat others as I want them to treat me. (Matthew 5:43-44, 7:12, 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31 10:25-27, 29-37; Catechism, 1789)

Earning money and buying property is "legitimate for guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of persons" — and lets property owners help others, which is also important. (Catechism, 2401-2414)

The "dignity of the human person" is vital. Each of us is made in the image of God, but we're not identical. We're supposed to have different abilities and needs. We're also supposed to look out for each other. (Catechism, 1929, 1934-1938)

Acting like loving my neighbor, and recognizing the dignity of everyone? That's not easy. But like I said, it's important:

1 It has been many years since I heard "of weak moral character" used to describe someone. I don't particularly like the term, since it was often used in a patronizing or condescending way.

A tip of the hat to Brian Matheny, on Google Plus, for pointing out the sensitive nature of that term.

My intent, as I recall, writing 'weak moral character,' was to refer to the attitude of folks with jobs, position, and a place to sleep, toward those who do not. Re-reading this later (Monday, January 18, 2016), I realize that I failed in that effort.

To clarify: I think some folks really are 'lazy bums' who are unwilling, not unable, to support themselves or seek the help they need.

I am also quite sure that many are in the position I have been in: willing to work, looking for work, and unable to find employment.

I avoided homelessness thanks in part to what my culture calls "good luck." I am hardly in a position to cast aspersions on those who, through no fault of their own, end up homeless.

Then there's the notion that folks with psychiatric disorders are 'of weak moral character.' I'm not likely to say that, since I'm one of 'those people:'

No comments:

Like it? Pin it, Plus it, - - -

Pinterest: My Stuff, and More


Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store

Popular Posts

Label Cloud

1277 abortion ADD ADHD-Inattentive Adoration Chapel Advent Afghanistan Africa America Amoris Laetitia angels animals annulment Annunciation anti-catholicism Antichrist apocalyptic ideas apparitions archaeology architecture Arianism art Asperger syndrome assumptions asteroid astronomy Australia authority balance and moderation baptism being Catholic beliefs bias Bible Bible and Catechism bioethics biology blogs brain Brazil business Canada capital punishment Caritas in Veritate Catechism Catholic Church Catholic counter-culture Catholicism change happens charisms charity Chile China Christianity Christmas citizenship climate change climatology cloning comets common good common sense Communion community compassion confirmation conscience conversion Corpus Christi cosmology creation credibility crime crucifix Crucifixion Cuba culture dance dark night of the soul death depression designer babies despair detachment devotion discipline disease diversity divination Divine Mercy divorce Docetism domestic church dualism duty Easter economics education elections emotions England entertainment environmental issues Epiphany Establishment Clause ethics ethnicity Eucharist eugenics Europe evangelizing evolution exobiology exoplanets exorcism extremophiles faith faith and works family Father's Day Faust Faustus fear of the Lord fiction Final Judgment First Amendment forgiveness Fortnight For Freedom free will freedom fun genetics genocide geoengineering geology getting a grip global Gnosticism God God's will good judgment government gratitude great commission guest post guilt Haiti Halloween happiness hate health Heaven Hell HHS hierarchy history holidays Holy Family Holy See Holy Spirit holy water home schooling hope humility humor hypocrisy idolatry image of God images Immaculate Conception immigrants in the news Incarnation Independence Day India information technology Internet Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jesus John Paul II joy just war justice Kansas Kenya Knights of Columbus knowledge Korea language Last Judgment last things law learning Lent Lenten Chaplet life issues love magi magic Magisterium Manichaeism marriage martyrs Mary Mass materialism media medicine meditation Memorial Day mercy meteor meteorology Mexico Minnesota miracles Missouri moderation modesty Monophysitism Mother Teresa of Calcutta Mother's Day movies music Muslims myth natural law neighbor Nestorianism New Year's Eve New Zealand news Nietzsche obedience Oceania organization original sin paleontology parish Parousia penance penitence Pentecost Philippines physical disability physics pilgrimage politics Pope Pope in Germany 2011 population growth positive law poverty prayer predestination presumption pride priests prophets prostitution Providence Purgatory purpose quantum entanglement quotes reason redemption reflections relics religion religious freedom repentance Resurrection robots Roman Missal Third Edition rosaries rules sacramentals Sacraments Saints salvation schools science secondary causes SETI sex shrines sin slavery social justice solar planets soul South Sudan space aliens space exploration Spain spirituality stem cell research stereotypes stewardship stories storm Sudan suicide Sunday obligation superstition symbols technology temptation terraforming the establishment the human condition tolerance Tradition traffic Transfiguration Transubstantiation travel Trinity trust truth uncertainty United Kingdom universal destination of goods vacation Vatican Vatican II veneration vengeance Veterans Day videos virtue vlog vocations voting war warp drive theory wealth weather wisdom within reason work worship writing

Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.