Derelict architecture – ad hoc homeless shelters are unsafe and allow organised crime to thrive

20171225_132607The buildings that are now derelict or too damaged to be viable housing options have been taken over by homeless people. Although at first glance it seems like a better alternative than no place to live at all, these places became hot spots for gang activity that take advantage of the most vulnerable amongst us. On the freezing Christmas Day of 2017, I was in Bucharest visiting family and decided to go for a quick walk to see the Old Town at a less busy time. On the edge of Lipscani, between Universitate and Old Town, there is an entire street of disused buildings that I previously thought were unoccupied (Bacani St.). I was surprised to see a person emerging from one, so I approached her to ask why she was living there. As expected, she wanted shelter from the cold, but the price she had to pay was much too terrible for most people to even consider. She normally begs to scrape together some money, and if that’s not enough for the bully in charge, she grants sexual favors.

I only managed to take a quick photo of the inside courtyard of the building before I was told to leave by an intimidating man who presumably oversaw the house.

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The severity of the implications urban decay can have is only fully understood when trying to portray all points of view. In an imperfect world, the question of compromise is raised, and the optimum solution becomes the one that manages to improve all aspects, not fully resolve them.

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