DC, National Park Service clear homeless encampment site in Northwest neighborhood

Homeless encampment cleared in DC

National Park Service and D.C. Department of Public Works employees dressed in hazmat suits flooded and cleared a homeless encampment at the corner of 20th and E Streets in Northwest D.C. on Thursday morning.

Pitchforks, rakes and shovels were used by the employees to remove tents and personal belongings from the park before loading them into garbage trucks.

Volunteers from local advocacy groups including Miriam’s Kitchen, a non-profit organization aimed at ending homelessness, were at the encampment site Thursday morning to assist residents in gathering their belongings before the city employees moved in.

Deputy Director Adam Rocap at Miriam’s Kitchen told WTOP: “It’s a closure that’s displacing up to 50 people.”

This encampment was on both National Park Service and D.C. property. The city claims public safety concerns are a reason for removal, saying that clearing the site will protect people from assaults, rodents, fires and getting hit by vehicles.

Rocap countered that the removal of the encampments won’t help, saying, “This doesn’t solve anything. People are just going to be on a tent on another patch of grass.”

There was no outward tension between the residents and the employees, according to WTOP’s Neal Augenstein, who was on the scene.

Six encampment sites on local and federal property will begin shutting down starting Thursday, according to NBC Washington:

  • San Martin Memorial Park
  • Rawlings/Wittman Parks
  • 26th and L streets NW
  • 20th/21st Street, E Street and Virginia Avenue
  • 25th Street and Virginia Avenue
  • 27th and K streets

According to a statement released by Miriam’s Kitchen, the annual census showed a 14% increase in homelessness from 2023 to 2024.

“Our community deserves better,” said Dana White, advocacy director at Miriam’s Kitchen in a statement. “With hundreds of housing vouchers sitting unused and no proposed investment in new vouchers from the mayor, we can’t excuse the lack of urgency. We demand that our leaders take immediate action to ensure these resources are deployed to provide stable housing for those who need it.”

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein contributed to this report.

people and a tent
Volunteers and residents clear out the encampment site before city employees move in. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein )
encampment site
Tents and belongings lay around the encampment site before D.C. Public Works and National Park Service employees cleared it. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein )
dumping tents into trash
National Park Service and D.C. Public Works employees dump tents and belongings into a dumpster. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein )
City employees stand on the encampment site. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein )
people and a tent
encampment site
dumping tents into trash

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Ana Golden

Ana Golden is an Associate Producer for WTOP. Ana attended Emerson College and studied Journalism and Political Communication. While at Emerson, she worked as an associate producer for her school’s TV station, interned on senate and gubernatorial campaigns, and worked as a news anchor on 88.9 WER.

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