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University City Is Making Sure Its Forward-Thinking Design Doesn't Leave The Less Fortunate Behind

The Porch at 30th Street Station

In a time when so much development is geared toward the wealthiest individuals, public spaces can often feel less than welcoming to the less fortunate.

But the University City District, University City's public engagement arm, is working hard to make sure its spaces do not discourage or scare away the homeless for the sake of a pristine image. Take The Porch at Schenley, which does not sport common restrictions like arm bars on public benches that prevent someone from lying down.

Homeless people sleeping on the more accommodating swing benches and movable chairs are a fairly common sight at the new Porch at 30th Street Station, as well as in redesigned trolley stops farther west, but complaints from nearby business owners have been nonexistent, PlanPhilly reports.

UCD has also coordinated with Project HOME to assist people in distress, as a way of treating homelessness and mental illness with understanding and treatment, rather than harassment and arrests. In other words, the design is about more than just benches to sleep on.

“[The homeless] get to enjoy the space like everyone else, which is great because they are citizens of Philadelphia like everybody else,” Rutgers University sociology professor Joan Maya Mazelis told PlanPhilly, noting its importance “because it helps take away fear and stigma people have about those who don’t have any place to live.”