Space and Homelessness in Providence

The College Hill Independent (The Indy), a RISD/Brown weekly newspaper recently published a piece about how the homeless and college students relate differently to space in downtown Providence. Shout out to the author Erin West B’18 and the Indy for expanding our understanding of what the recent downtown renovation means for different people.

Here is the piece. And here is an excerpt:

Kennedy Plaza Bus Terminal
The spiffy new Kennedy Plaza bus station just opened its doors on January 17, 2015. We go to take a look inside and are greeted by several signs taped to the doors announcing: “NO PUBLIC RESTROOMS AVAILABLE.” Just like that, in all caps. John says that simply finding a place to use the bathroom can be challenging at best and humiliating at worst. He tells me that those cute cafés we just passed would be nice enough to let me in for the restroom, but they wouldn’t have taken a second look at him when he was homeless. Inside the bus station, a bit of construction was being finished off in a corner. There was caution tape around the construction area but on the other end of the building, two meager benches built into the wall were also taped off. “Why do they have those roped off?” I ask John. He responds, “They don’t want folks sitting around in here.”

Just as we exit the station, a man in a worn-out pea coat holding a coffee cup approaches John. The lid of his cup is dirty with coffee that splashes every time his hand shakes from shivering. This man is homeless and must know John is connected to resources. They chat about where he can find a shelter to stay in that night. Right next to the bus terminal, a warm building with plenty of space, this man cannot go in for a break from the cold. He turns away from us and continues to walk the streets as he has probably been doing all day.

Go to the Indy to read the rest of the article!

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