Once the photos of 'anti-homeless spikes' began circulating on Twitter, the outrage was fuelled with each successive favourite and retweet. The styles of the anti-homeless 'spikes' varied from photo to photo, ranging from pointed pieces of concrete to spiked pieces of metal protruding dangerously from the ground.
The use of water sprinklers for deterring homeless people caused outrage in 2013, when a bookstore in NYC was accused of using sprinklers their sprinkler system for that very purpose. The manager of course "denied the sprinklers were used to drive away the homeless, saying they were there to clean the sidewalk [...]."
A little water doesn't seem so bad and when compared to the tactics previously taken by other cities and businesses...
In 2004, Deputies in Richland County decided they had quite enough of the homeless, drug addicts and prostitutes that had been disturbing neighbourhoods by using and seeking shelter in condemned buildings. They opted for a new approach using something called 'Skunk Shot', which "contains synthetic skunk oil in a gel like substance and was originally intend as a cat and dog repellent."
"It's probably the worst thing I've even smelled," Cpl. Brown said."
In 2012, Bylaw enforcement officials in Surrey, B.C. decided to take action after a slew of community complaints about the homeless. Officials took to the streets and began lining "a vacant lot next to a homeless shelter with poultry excrement in order to discourage a rowdy lot of vagrants and miscreants from hanging out there."
Despite the claims of the chicken excrements efficacy, it was met with outrage. Not long after it was laid, the acting Mayor ordered city crews to clean up the area and made his disapproval clear. He stated "it was an unacceptable, draconian approach. These are people in our community [the homeless] who need support, and this does not treat people with dignity."
Smell isn't the only sense being assaulted in the bid to repel the homeless. Some businesses have taken to using sound in attempts to control the loitering and homeless seeking shelter.
In 2010, a TD Canada Trust ATM in Toronto was equipped with what was being called a 'vagrant deterrent system', designed for the purpose of repelling homeless people looking to take shelter inside of the ATM booth. The homeless weren't the only people the "ear-splitting, high-pitched noise" was driving away. Local residents began to develop a hatred for the noise themselves, with one resident calling it a "nuisance to the neighbourhood."
Another assault on the ears comes courtesy of Moving Sound Technologies, which employs their patented product to reduce the incidence of homeless loitering in a very specific age group. The product, known as 'The Mosquito' is a "small speaker that produces a high frequency sound much like the buzzing of the insect it's named after. This high frequency can be heard by young people 13-25 years old."
What can be done about the older crowd who would be immune to this specific frequency? No need to worry, as the company has also developed a Mosquito that targets and deters all age groups!
"The latest version of hedge Mosquito is called the MK4 Multi-Age. It has two different settings; one for teenagers and one setting for all ages. When it is set to 17KHz the Mosquito can only be heard by teenagers approximately 13-25 years of age. When set to 8KHz The Mosquito can be heard by all ages."
Classical music has been employed in many different areas in the hopes that it will curb the incidence of homeless loitering in a given space, as well as reduce the incidence of teenagers loitering. Whether you believe it to be effective or not, there are places that have noted a reduction in undesirable types of behaviour after the installation of speakers emitting classical music.
There are no studies to confirm this is true, and many argue that the classical music itself has nothing to do with the reduction in loitering and homeless persons; rather it is a result of improvements to the area such as speakers, music, increased lighting, and police presence.
The use of classical music certainly is not without criticisms either.
"Indeed, playing classical music to clear out public spaces is an act of supreme elitism: an attempt to 'civilize' a space by making it unpleasant to people who tastes differ from your own."
They simply serve to increase stigma, and force the issue further out of sight and out of mind...