City of Iowa, Iowa (KCRG) – Iowa City uses hostile architecture and targets its homeless population. A nonprofit organization in the city has been claiming this claim for weeks and claims to have proof.
The question is centered on the new benches. They were installed around the Pedestrian Mall at a cost of about $ 150,000. They have central armrests, which, according to the city, will increase the number of seats in this area.
The homeless advocacy group "Iowa Catholic Worker" calls them a clear example of hostile architecture. Homeless people can no longer use the benches to lie down. The group also said the city was lying when they said it was for comfort.
"It turned out that it was a lie," said Ethan Forsgren, a volunteer, Catholic worker in Iowa City. "This came up, as the transcript shows, because the city discovered that it was a strategy that other cities were using to move people out of their downtown."
According to a working session held in 2013 by the city, Jim Throgmorton, a member of the city council at the time, had brought up a friend 's idea that similar armrests could help prevent people from getting around. to take a nap.
"In order to meet the challenge of sleeping on benches, this person suggested inserting a new arm rail in the middle of the benches.You know, it is very difficult to stretch and sleep," he said. said Throgmorton during the working session.
Mayor Throgmorton stated that the NPO took the transcripts out of context. He said homeless people in the city were more aggressive in 2013, citing a case where a man would have pulled a knife at someone at Ped Mall, five days before the work session. Thogmorton said that these discussions had nothing to do with the current benches.
"I was throwing something at a friend and it's true," Throgmorton said. "We can put armrests in the center, but we did not decide to do it in 2013. There was no official decision to do that."
Throgmorton said the city was doing everything possible to help the less fortunate. He is supporting a $ 200 million Behavioral Access Center and is investing in a new residential building.
"We have a huge national problem with homelessness here, mostly chronic homeless people," Throgmorton said. "We invest and invest."
But the nonprofit remains unconvinced.
"Iowa City needs to look at itself and say who the city is for which it was built," Forsgren said.
City officials pointed out that when they initially held public forums on the new design of divided benches, they received no negative feedback. However, they plan to remove at least some of them given the current frustrations.
Iowa Catholic Worker plans to hold a "sleepy" protest Monday afternoon at Ped Mall.