A block of privately-owned apartments in a tony area of London has installed metal studs on the ground to keep homeless people from sleeping there.
Similar to the window spikes many buildings use to deter pigeons from roosting, the studs reportedly appeared last month and have inspired outrage on Twitter.
Some residents said they had seen people sleeping in the corner a few weeks before the spikes were installed. Studs have been spotted in other parts of the city as well.
Over the past three years, the city has seen a 75 percent rise in “rough sleeping,” in part due to the economic downturn and cuts in housing benefits, Katharine Sacks-Jones of homeless advocacy group Crisis told the Guardian.
In the United States, many local and state governments have found new ways to criminalize the homeless. One popular tactic is to make sitting or lying down on sidewalks a criminal offense. Some cities allow police to seize property homeless people keep on the streets. Even living in a car is now illegal in some parts of the U.S.
One store that had installed the anti-homeless spikes has agreed to get rid of them. Pictures of the Tesco supermarket went viral on Twitter, and activists had planned a protest outside the store later this month.