Update on Homeless Encampments

An encampment at the 695 and Virginia Avenue, SE Underpass, (across from Whole Foods Market) existing alongside unregulated parking much of which appears to be used by construction workers from nearby projects.    
Jamal Weldon, Program Manager, Encampment Response Program, at ANC6A last Thursday night.

Update on Homeless Encampments

by Larry Janezich

Posted January 18, 2022

Last Thursday night, ANC6D got an update on homeless encampments from Jamal Weldon, Program Manager, Encampment Response Program under the Office of Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services.  During his presentation, he made the following points:

  • An encampment is any site where residents who are homeless set up a tent or structure with the intention of establishing residence.
  • Homeless residents of encampments are residents of the community.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services can’t force encampment residents to move unless the encampment impedes public access or the encampment is a danger to the community or the residents themselves.
  • Illegal actions on part of residents of encampments are not under the purview of DHHS.

DC has a strategic plan to end long term homelessness in DC by the end of 2025.  The plan – Homeward DC – has made substantial progress in housing homeless families, but housing for unaccompanied adults has been slower in coming.  Fully implementing Homeward DC will take time – meanwhile, the city has established a protocol for addressing encampments.

Protocols under The Encampment Pilot Program are triggered when a site presents a security, health, or safety risk, and/or interferes with community use of such places. 

The pilot program provides shelter, intensive case management, and pathways to housing as well as behavioral health services through DHS for residents at the targeted locations. Other city agencies are engaged to clean up the site. 

Three major encampments have been designated as falling within the criteria established for cleanup under the pilot program:

  • NoMa Underpasses, M/L Streets, NE
  • New Jersey & C Street Park, NW
  • 20th/21st and E Streets, NW

The first two are in the process of housing former encampment residents and Weldon said that out of 111 individuals, 89 have been housed or are in a hotel waiting processing.

Weldon engaged in a spirited discussion with Commissioner Sondra Phillips-Gilbert who pressed for better communication between Weldon’s office and individual ANC commissioners and residents with concerns about encampments.  Weldon said communication failures were due to the pandemic and assured greater cooperation. 

Regarding an encampment within ANC6D at 18th and D Streets, NE, near RFK – which he called a major concern – Weldon said there has been outreach and his office was working with residents to connect them with resources including housing navigation.   

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services has a website on encampments here:  https://dmhhs.dc.gov/page/encampments  There are several encampments in Ward 6 which are on the list of Upcoming Encampment Protocol Engagements.  Some of the on-or-near Capitol Hill sites scheduled for cleanup have not yet been addressed – likely because encampments are not dismantled during inclement weather. 

There are encampments at:

  • 11th Street, SE/695 Underpass – Scheduled for Full Clean Up
  • 3rd Street and Virginia Avenue, SE – Scheduled for Full Clean Up
  • 695 and Virginia Avenue, SE Underpass, (across from Whole Foods) – Scheduled for Full Clean Up

The large encampment on Columbus Circle in front of Union Station is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. 

To report an encampment, call (202) 727-7973. 

1 Comment

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One response to “Update on Homeless Encampments

  1. w

    The encampments don’t bother me beyond the humanitarian concerns for occupants, but the city could do a MUCH better job of sanitation. Trash removal, portable restrooms, etc. There’s a lot of gray area between outright dismantling and basic maintenance of public space. The city is not absolved of that responsibility simply because unhoused individuals are occupying the public space