Homeless Camp Near Kennedy Center Being Cleared by D.C. Officials

Homeless people who live in tents near Rock Creek Parkway in Northwest D.C. were told Friday evening to leave the area immediately.

Crews shoved mattresses into garbage trucks and outreach teams offered services to residents, including help finding housing.

The tent city just north of the Watergate Hotel and the Kennedy Center will be cleared to protect homeless people from freezing temperatures and make way for a water department project, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Brenda Donald said.

Also, it was was "determined to be hazardous and unsafe," she said.

"This coming weekend, temperatures are expected to dip below freezing, and we need to intensify our outreach to those living on the streets," Donald said in a letter to residents.

Resident Owen Makel said he prefers living outdoors to living in a shelter, where residents report bedbugs, thefts and violence.

He said he'll stay on the street, just in another location.

Another resident, Lovenia Evans, said she was happy to leave because outreach teams helped her find housing.

"I feel really good because I'm going to school. I couldn't do both," she said.

The D.C. Department of Behavioral Health and Department of Human Services have helped 14 residents of the homeless encampment move into housing, the letter from Donald said.

Once residents are moved off the land, D.C. Water will clean a 78-inch sewer line that runs near the Kennedy Center, a spokesman said. The project will last about six months.

Chaplain Tim Buffaloe was working on Friday evening to connect residents with social services. He once was homeless himself.

"When you've been chronically homeless like this, you're in survival mode," he said. "You're not living like the rest of us."

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