(PresidentialInsider.com)- An intense battle is brewing between Washington DC residents and community activists over a number of homeless encampments in federal parks that cropped up near the infamous Watergate complex during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Much to the residents’ chagrin, these encampments aren’t going anywhere in the near future.
Neighbors in the northwest section of the city have demanded that the US Park Police clear the camps from Burke Park, Gompers Park, and 9th and Massachusetts. Citing public safety concerns, they requested Park Police enforce the rules which prevent camps from growing on federal property.
In a letter sent to the US Park Police, the residents of the area cited the excess refuse, human feces and bodily fluids, violence, drug abuse, as well as their inability to “enjoy resources and green space under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.”
CDC COVID guidelines recommend, however, that people be allowed to stay in encampments if no other housing is available to them. The residents, however, argue that this CDC guidance is being used as a pretense for not addressing the homeless problem in the area, pointing out that if the same kind of encampments were set up at the National Mall, they have no doubt the encampments would be removed “without hesitation or delay.”
They’re probably right.
Community advocates, however, have taken the side of the homeless over the community. Amid fears that the US Park Police would evict the homeless encamped in the parks, these activists fought back, arguing that removing the encampments would not address the problem of homelessness.
Alexandria Bailey, the advisory neighborhood commissioner for the area contacted the National Park Service demanding a two-month extension to allow for time to find housing for the homeless within the camps.
So the National Park Service backed off, saying after engaging in conversations with “city and community partners” they have “no imminent plans to remove existing encampments.”
Meanwhile, Remora House DC, an organization that works with the homeless, has been keeping the homeless encamped in these federal parks stocked with food, water and other supplies. The organization is also planning to keep an eye on the encampments in order to protect them from future eviction.
Washington DC residents vote overwhelmingly Democrat. In 2020, Joe Biden won DC with 92.15 percent of the vote. And you get what you vote for.