DC closes encampment near Judiciary Square 

A pile of belongings in front of a green fence after the encampment was closed.

On Jan. 31 shortly after 10 a.m., Michael's belongings were temporarily left outside the cleared encampment as he moved out. Photo by Margaret Hartigan

D.C. officials closed an encampment near Judiciary Square on Jan. 31. At least two residents lived there before the closure. 

The last resident to move out, Michael, told Street Sense he had lived in the area for about six years. He did not know exactly how many residents lived in the encampment, but he lived with several other people over the years. One woman moved out the night before, he said. 

At the intersection of 2nd and D Streets in Northwest, a metal sign notifying residents about the site’s closure was affixed to a nearby fence. The sticker declaring the date and time was placed on top of several others — D.C. previously closed the encampment in May 2022, July 2023 and Nov. 2023. 

D.C. removed Michael’s encampment so the city could conduct a full clean up, bio-hazard removal and “reinforcement of the no encamping ordinance for this space,” according to the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services’ (DMHHS) website. 

According to D.C.’s encampment protocol, D.C. must give residents written notice of an encampment closure at least 14 days in advance, unless the closure is considered an “immediate disposition.” An immediate disposition allows the city to clear encampments with between 24 hours and six days notice. 

Michael said the most recent clearing caught him by surprise. He hadn’t noticed that a new sticker had been added to the sign, which has been nailed to the fence since at least Oct. 18. “I didn’t see the sign, so I didn’t know,” he said. 

As part of enforcing a law that prohibits camping on public land, DMHHS has been conducting encampment clearings, trash clean-ups and biohazard removals with increasing frequency. Michael is one of many encampment residents who have been displaced by these clearings. 

On that January morning, as officials arrived and began to remove items from the encampment, Michael packed his belongings, including some large pillows and blankets, into two shopping carts. He told Street Sense that he planned to remain in the area. 

Andrea Ho contributed to reporting. 

Issues |Encampments

Region |Judiciary Square

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