These Amazing Artists Are Taking On Urban Homelessness

A group of artists in London is making a point about urban homelessness — with some cozy-looking beds.

Last year, outrage spread across the web over so-called "anti-homeless" spikes popping up outside buildings in London. Tactics like this aren't anything new — cities around the world incorporate elements around buildings and public spaces to discourage loitering. (If you've ever wondered why public benches have armrests in the middle, it's usually to make it impossible to sleep on them.) But perhaps because they look so aggressive, these spikes touched a nerve with homelessness activists.

Advocates, of course, would argue that the way to keep people from sleeping on ledges is to address the root causes of homelessness — poverty, drug addiction, mental health issues — rather than just driving those affected by them further away.

The art group's project — called "Space, Not Spikes" — is simple: They took a spiked nook in a building on Curtain Road and turned into a little bedroom, complete with a bookcase. “Living in a city, we bumble along from place to place in tightly martialed lines. We’re told where we can walk, where we can sit, where we are welcome but only if we spend money," they write on their Tumblr. "Anti-homeless spikes are part of that invention. Nothing says 'keep out' to a person more than rows of sharpened buttplugs laid out to stop people from enjoying or using public space."

The group says it chose the location because the neighborhood used to be an eclectic enclave and a space for artists — some of whom were very poor — but that gentrification had pushed them out. In their place were buildings so worried about people sleeping on their ledges that they'd installed spikes.

At least for now, those ledges are a little more comfy. Watch the artists at work in the video, above.

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