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Homeless advocates say park benches around city harm the homeless

Posted at 7:09 PM, Dec 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-21 08:48:34-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Many people just want to go to bed at the end of a long day. Some people that live on the streets don’t have that opportunity and take to park benches to sleep.

However, some benches like the ones at Cole Park Pier have metal arched bars on them that homeless advocates like Mariah Boone said prevent homeless from staying at the park overnight.

“People treat unhoused people like a nuisance and that’s just not acceptable. Our parks are for everyone,” Boone said.

Boone lost her disabled daughter Mimosa Thomas a few years ago. Thomas was an advocate of the homeless and after she died, Boone took on her role as an advocate.

“My daughter was appalled. She was disabled and she could really see how that could have been her,” Boone said.

The metal bars on benches is what Boone and other advocates call “hostile architecture”. They can also come in the form of spikes under overpasses and slanted benches that prevent the homeless from sleeping on them.

Marilena Garza owns The Free Store, a store that gives away resources like bags and food to homeless people. Garza said she’s also against the City’s architecture plan that put metal bars on benches.

“Without these bars, typically the homeless people would be using these benches as places to rest and that makes it easier for people like me and people in the non-profit community, Salvation Army, to find these people, reach out to these people,” Garza said.

Garza said it also prevents overweight people from sitting on the bench.

However, some of the benches near the marina don’t have metal bars on them, but Garza said many homeless don’t go over there because it’s near the water and security patrols the area. Garza said the City is not doing enough for homeless people and instead choose to spend it on things like animal control.

“This is an eye sore. This is not what we want. This is not what Corpus Christi represents,” Garza said about the metal arches on the benches.

Ben Molina, the Corpus Christi councilman for District 2 said the bench designs at Cole Park Pier are architectural and will enable the park to last longer.

“We want to protect our investment. This is a brand new pier. It cost a lot of money. And we do have skaters nearby so we want to make sure that those amenities that are provided for the public’s benefit remain in tact and remain in good working condition,” Molina said.

If you are in need of help for the homeless in the Corpus Christi, here are some resources: