Recently, a bench was installed on the sidewalk by Dunkin’ Donuts on West College Avenue and in front of Hearts for the Homeless with extra arms as a deterrent to the homeless population in State College. This type of design is actually called “defensive architecture,” which sounds like a small military operation, but in reality is an attack on some of the most vulnerable people in our population.
Being homeless is hard; the reasons behind homelessness are even harder to understand. Our society doesn’t do well with mental illness or addiction. We don’t understand why some people can’t simply pull themselves up by their bootstraps. We don’t want to look at anything that makes us uncomfortable, if even for a moment. We’re secure in our jobs, our homes and the safety nets we tell ourselves we have in place so that is never us. It’s easy to be dismissive when everything you own is not in a backpack or a rolled-up sleeping bag.
I am just wondering why, as a community, we tolerate the vomit, public urination and riots that accompany every college football game, whether played in State College or not, but a person sleeping on a bench is where we have decided to actually draw the line? Where is our empathy? Where is our ability to walk in someone else’s shoes? Are we that entitled?
Please have this bench removed and a regular one installed. Let’s be better than this, because we are better than this.
Sharon Rovansek, Port Matilda