Letter: A place Underground for the homeless

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The Independent Online
Sir: Mark Cole's poignant article 'Making a point with spikes and studs' (architecture, 12 October) described the latest 'designer' ploy to prevent the homeless finding places to rest on our streets - spiked windowsills, railed off heating vents and deliberately narrowed underpasses. What Mr Cole did not suggest was an obvious alternative sleeping ground within yards of the favourite spots for dossing down in central London - Aldwych Underground station, which was closed only a few weeks ago.

London Underground should reopen this station and charge a nominal nightly fee per person taking shelter within it, say pounds 1. This could be paid by members of the public under a scheme whereby commuters fed pound coins into a machine placed outside the station, or businesses in the neighbourhood, particularly those with unfriendly exteriors, undertook to sponsor a fixed number of sleepers for set periods. A digital display screen would broadcast each night's intake so that the public were kept aware of the problem.

The practical details of the scheme could be worked out in consultation with organisations such as Shelter and Crash (Construction Industry Relief and Assistance for the Single Homeless), which already opens empty office blocks to the homeless during the harshest winter months.

Yours sincerely,

DEBORAH SINGMASTER

London, SW4

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