Just saw a neighbor out fixing his motorbike on the sidewalk. He lives in a subsidized Shelter Plus Care SRO building that's nearly all single-room units. The property doesn't have indoor space for the kind of work that suburban people do in garages and that better-off urban renters do in balconies or courtyards, like working on bikes and fixing appliances and gluing stuff.
So the guy is sitting in the hot sun on a narrow sidewalk in front of the grocery store opposite his building, with his bike set against one of those inverted-U public bicycle racks, trying to keep himself and his tools out of the way of passers-by and also trying to fix whatever has gone wrong with the bike. This is not fair to him.
There's a second-floor outdoor terrace in that building, true, but it's kind of the territory of the people whose windows look out on it, and anyway I don't know if the desk clerk would allow a motorbike to be brought up there. And then presumably there would be hassles about oil drips and so on, as there have been when people tried to work on bikes in the courtyard at our building.
So, if SRO designers and managers understand the need to provide a kitchen for people to cook things in, then how about providing workshop for people to fix things in?
I mean to say this without any special disrespect to our particular local building's management, who work pretty well with the physical space and institutional culture they've inherited. My question is more, why have I never seen a workshop space in a subsidized SRO building? Where's the institutional culture to enable and nourish the often very high level of fix-it ingenuity that people develop through years of making do?
And, is this just me being sour, or does the lack of attention to self-help workshop space have to do with the level of physical control that it's thought appropriate for poor people to have over their environment?