Encampment Updates: Clearings in Brentwood, Benning, Deanwood, and Foggy Bottom

A white sign on a fence in front of trees.

A sign posted outside the encampment at 1899 9th St. NE. Photo by Margaret Hartigan

Editor’s Note: This is the third installment of a biweekly column “Encampment Updates.” Each edition, a Street Sense journalist will write about past and upcoming encampment clearings and closures in D.C. The government’s policies and schedule can be found at: dmhhs.dc.gov/page/encampments. 

DMHHS fully or partially cleared four encampments during the weeks of April 8 and April 15. 

D.C. police temporarily detained a pregnant Black woman during an encampment closure on April 17. The police held her in a police van for an hour while D.C.’s Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services (DMHHS) removed her encampment, throwing away her tent and the majority of her belongings. Read more about her story here.

On April 10, DMHHS conducted a “full clean up” of an encampment at the corner of 9th and T St. NE at 10 a.m. DMHHS disposed of many of the items at the encampment, including a suitcase and wooden structures that were being used as tables. However, the city left several large items intact, including a tent, some chairs, and a plastic cooler. 

During the encampment clearing on April 10, the resident was present, a DMHHS spokesperson said, but did not emerge from their tent. This clearing was not a site closure, like the other engagements discussed in this story, and as a result, only items that the encampment resident approved for disposal were discarded, according to the representative.

The following day, DMHHS closed another encampment, this one under a bridge at the corner of Minnesota Ave. and Benning Rd. NE. The resident was not present during the closure, but arrived at the scene after to speak with DMHHS. 

A DMHHS representative wrote to Street Sense that the resident of this encampment had just completed their “lease up” process that morning, and that DMHHS assisted the resident in moving his belongings into a new housing unit that same afternoon.

DMHHS closed this encampment at least in part due to a fire hazard, according to the D.C. government’s encampments website. Next to a pile of items, black soot on the brick walls of the underpass indicated someone had recently started a fire. 

The entire encampment was under a bridge, away from any sidewalks or roads. Before the clearing began on April 11, the resident had already organized many of the items into suitcases. DMHHS officials looked through the suitcases, and put them, including the clothes, shoes, and laptop inside, into garbage bags, which they held in a DMHHS-owned minivan to be stored for pickup. 

Other items, however, were disposed of — including blankets, a lawn chair, clothes, a metal crate, a tote bag, laundry detergent, and a hat bearing the logo of the fast food chain Wendy’s. The person who had been living at the encampment works at the Wendy’s in Union Station, where he was when the clearing began, according to an outreach worker from the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. The resident could not be reached for comment. 

DMHHS cleared a third encampment, located at 23rd and E St. NW in Foggy Bottom, on April 18 at 10 a.m. for safety reasons, according to a DMHHS representative.

Upcoming encampment engagements include: Tue., April 30 at 10 a.m. at 9th and Mt. Olivet Rd. NE, Wed., May 15 at 10 a.m. at 20th/21st and E St/Virginia Ave. NW, Wed., May 15 at 10 a.m. at 25th and Virginia Ave. NW, and Mon., May 20 at 10 a.m. at 27th and K St. NW. 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the print version to include DMHHS comment not received before the print deadline.

Issues |Encampments

Region |Washington DC

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