Neighbors discuss clean-ups of nearby homeless encampments

Commissioners of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neigbhorhood Commission discussed the city's process for removing homeless encampments at the meeting Wednesday night. Jack Borowiak | Hatchet Photographer
Commissioners of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neigbhorhood Commission discussed the city’s process for removing homeless encampments at the meeting Wednesday night. Jack Borowiak | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Brielle Powers.

D.C. officials removed homeless people living in tents near Washington Circle Tuesday, a liaison from Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office said at a neighborhood meeting Wednesday night.

During the crime report at the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission’s monthly meeting, community member Barbara Kahlow complained about the growing homeless encampment near Virginia Avenue, saying “it’s an entire city.”

“It’s a health and safety issue. I am sick of people following me and begging all the time. It is not safe for people to walk in the neighborhood anymore,” she said.

Richard Livingstone, the Ward 2 liaison for the mayor’s office and former member of the government and community relations office at GW, spoke about the city’s efforts to remove homeless encampments in public areas in the city.

“We are indeed getting individuals to get out of their tent and they either take it down, or the tent is removed,” he said. “However, what we are experiencing, is people coming back.”

He said the city posts signs about clean-ups in the encampment areas so that the homeless people expect when the clean-ups will take place. ANC Commissioner William Kennedy Smith asked if having tents in public areas is illegal.

“I have never seen any evidence of a clean-up,” Smith said.

Livingstone said officials have developed a protocol for removing the encampments and that the city is following it. He said the city does not forcibly remove homeless people from encampments, but that there is a high rate of compliance with clean-ups.

“We notify the individuals out there with signs,” Livingstone said. “We address behavior, we do not remove people.”

At-large D.C. Council member Elissa Silverman also attended the meeting in Funger Hall and spoke about her support for the Universal Paid Leave Act, proposed by the D.C. Council last year. The bill would provide up to 16 weeks of paid leave in situations like the birth or adoption of a child or caring for a seriously sick relative.

“This is a program that helps to maintain workers. I like to think of it like Social Security,” Silverman said. “We need a big pool of people to be helping everybody.”

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