Verbal abuse and loitering motivated ANC 7F to vote in favor of removing a bus shelter on Minnesota Avenue

In September, loitering at a bus shelter along a busy stretch of Minnesota Ave. NE prompted a local Advisory Neighborhood Commission to recommend that the shelter be removed from the bus stop. Neighbors are waiting for a response from the city and are encouraging the provision of more outreach services for individuals experiencing homelessness in their ward. 

Residents and customers of nearby businesses reported harassment from individuals experiencing homelessness who were camping at the bus shelter at 3801 Minnesota Ave. NE, according to Tyrell Holcomb, the commissioner who chairs ANC 7F01. Street Sense emailed the dentist’s office located behind the bus stop about these claims but has not received a response. 

He said the loitering grew worse during the summer, as some of those camped started fires and verbally harassed or threw things at passersby. 

“We felt that it’s incumbent upon the city, upon DDOT [District Department of Transportation] as an agency, to say ‘we were premature in placing benches down because we were only making an investment in aesthetics, and not in people,’” Holcomb said. 

Holcomb said that several years ago, the ANC asked the city, through the Department of Behavioral Health (DBH), to provide additional support and engagement for individuals experiencing homelessness, but they have yet to see an improvement in outreach or services.   

“Being homeless is not a crime,” Holcomb said. “We as a commission want to make it clear. We don’t believe it’s a crime to be homeless. But it is a crime for our city not to do all it can to provide the support and the services for those who need it.” 

The ANC sent a follow-up letter to DBH and the Department of Human Services.

“We want folks to understand that Minnesota Avenue matters as well,” Holcomb said. “We feel like we don’t get the same attention as other communities get, and it’s not fair. We pay the same amount of taxes as everybody else, and we contribute in meaningful ways as everybody else.”

Minnesota Ave. NE is a busy thoroughfare, and its sidewalks are often dense with people, so there are questions about whether removing one bus shelter will improve the loitering issue. 

Bus shelters are meant to provide waiting passengers with a place to sit and to protect them from severe weather.

“Situations where a shelter is required include the following: neighborhoods where buses run infrequently; commercial areas with frequent service and high levels of ridership; areas where security is a problem; neighborhoods where there are many older or infirm people; and areas where inclement weather is common,” according to Project for Public Spaces

Delia Houseal, a commissioner in nearby ANC 7E, believes in improving the number of bus shelters within the corridor because of their benefits in protecting residents from extreme weather and making public transit more suitable. 

“For many people, shelters are very important, particularly for our students, in which we have a large portion of them that go to school in other areas of the ward,” Houseal said.

Houseal began to get complaints from constituents when the D.C. The Department of Transportation attempted to remove a bus shelter in front of C.W. Harris Elementary School. DDOT wanted to remove the bus shelter because of new construction, but Houseal argued that they should work around the needs of people which they did. 

Houseal is aware that some bus shelters throughout the community are being misused. Still, instead of removing them, she favors enforcing their proper use.The idea of improving Minnesota Ave. is nothing new to ANC 7F. In 2020, the ANC created the Minnesota Ave. Improvement Summit Planning Committee, which held a meeting of more than 50 neighbors to discuss how to improve the corridor. 

The planning committee meeting was held in March. Community members recommended improvements such as organizing a neighborhood watch, having resources other than police respond to incidents, and creating safe spaces inside the ward. 

In May, the city announced a new project to redevelop the corridors along Benning Road and Minnesota Ave. to redevelop the Downtown Ward 7 area. The project includes construction of a new headquarters for the District’s Department of General Services and a new grocery store planned for 2022. 

Issues |Criminalization of Homelessness|Living Unsheltered

Region |Ward 7

information about New Signature, a Washington DC tech solutions and consulting firm


email updates

We believe ending homelessness begins with listening to the stories of those who have experienced it.