Homelessness exists not because the housing system is not working but because this is the way it works.

Peter Marcuse

ON JUNE 3, 1991, New York City police officers evicted more than fifty homeless residents from Tompkins Square Park and fenced off the entire area. The embattled park was then bulldozed and much of it closed to the public. As I write, Tompkins Square is guarded 24 hours a day by scores of police officers, while the city reconstructs the space to keep the homeless out. Local residents currently refer to the park grounds as “the occupied territories.”

Under siege for decades, Tompkins Square has become a symbol of the battle for decent housing and of the plight of the homeless. The response of the media to the worsening situation has generally been disgraceful: while more and more of the disenfranchised have appeared on the streets of New York, the homeless have been portrayed

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