Mayor Muriel Bowser told Foggy Bottom Association members last week the neighborhood “is dealing with the good and the bad” when it comes to homelessness in their neighborhood.
Homeless encampments, prevalent along the neighborhood’s western edge, “are against the law,” the mayor emphasized. Bowser said that the city does have shelter capacity for the individuals who currently live in these camps. For some, the answer is to go to permanently supported affordable housing, but to meet the need, the District needs to spend more than the $100 million a year that is currently allocated, she said.
Kristy Greenwalt, executive director of the Interagency Council on Homelessness, also spoke at the meeting. “There is a lot we can do locally” to help, she said, such as leveraging public and private dollars for projects around the city, even if the federal government doesn’t assist.
Several attendees complained about the piles of trash near the homeless encampment near the eastern terminus of the Whitehurst Freeway, saying that it is only 20 yards from a children’s playground. One resident asked Bowser for a specific schedule for cleaning it up.
Bowser replied that she would commit to getting the community a schedule, but that there are legal problems cleaning the site up if it affects the people in the encampment, who must be given 14 days’ notice to move.
Greenwalt pointed out that it is not illegal for people to sleep out in the open, but it is illegal to put up tents. She stressed the need to manage the issue humanely.