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DC Housing Initiative Targeted E Street Camp – GW Hatchet

DC Housing Initiative Targeted E Street Camp – GW Hatchet

A local government body asked district officials about a new initiative for homeless camps that tried to connect residents with housing options during its monthly meeting Tuesday.

Members of Foggy Bottom and the West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission pressured district officials for more information about the program, which they estimate could accommodate 25 to 50 percent of residents living in three of the district’s largest camps, including the E Street camp near campus. Commissioners also voted to distribute humanitarian grants to two local nonprofits and received an update from a university official on last week’s evacuation of Townhouse Row.

Here are some of the highlights of the meeting:

DC reveals camp initiative
Wayne Turnage, deputy mayor for health and human services, Jamal Weldon, the city’s camp program manager, said the new program would run at three camps throughout the district – those located on E Street, NoMa Falls and New Jersey and O Street Park. They said the program would work to provide housing for campers through increased outreach work and support behavioral health care and drug use.

Officials will also minimize garbage and bio-hazards at the camps to maintain their “general cleanliness,” according to the pilot information sheet. The sheet says the initiative should indicate whether a camp will lose some of its health and safety risks or gain an increase in “service connectivity and stable housing.”

“This particular program has identified three of the largest campgrounds in all of DC, as well as three locations that have unfortunately had the most vulnerable consumers and the highest level of health and safety risk factors,” Weldon said.

They said the harmless residents of the E Street camp are currently not in danger of being evicted because the district shares their property with the National Park Service, adding that discussions between the city and the NPS are underway so officials can decide a way forward, which may result in any evictions. Turnage said campers receiving help will receive “intensive” case processing and assistance with the housing process with tasks such as obtaining IDs and vital documents.

“This is not something that offends anyone at the front of a list or beats others from a list or whatever it is,” Turnage said. “This allows us to directly address this situation for our harmless campers.”

Students have rallied to defend residents of the E Street camp and ward off evictions for years.

GW official explains evacuation
Kevin Days, GW’s director of community relations, updated commissioners on the evacuation of Townhouse Row, saying the university has not identified additional spaces on campus that need “comprehensive redevelopment.” Days said the university still expects the relocation of students to last only two to three weeks, but he declined to comment further on the remedying of the buildings and offered to provide information only to commissioners offline.

“There is a detailed scope of work that describes what this remedy is,” he said. “The end result is that we want students to be able to return to their townhouses and feel safe and not have their health affected in a negative way.”

More than 70 students and faculties said mold growth and water leaks have caused cold- and flu-like symptoms since the beginning of the fall semester. Days said the university is in touch with the relevant DC agencies, like the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, about the cleaning process on Townhouse Row.

Commissioners hand out humanitarian grants
The ANC unanimously approved sending funds to Serve Your City and Ward 2 Mutual Aid, two local non-profit organizations, each of which will receive a portion of the $ 12,000 that the ANC awarded grants earlier this year. Commissioners Yannik Omictin and Trupti Patel, who set up the special committee on humanitarian aid in March to help local residents struggling financially due to the pandemic, said the committee chose these two charities because they had no overhead costs and all the money would go directly to the community.

The ANC allocated $ 8,400 to Serve Your City, which provides opportunities for high-risk students in DC, and $ 3,600 to Department 2 mutual assistance, which provides meals and assistance to families and harmless individuals. Patel said the two organizations had well-thought-out and thorough plans for their grant packages, which gave them the edge over several other grant applicants.

“They were very thoughtful in how they were going to spend the money and were very diligent in making sure they would report the feedback to the Humanitarian Aid Committee,” Patel said. “So it was an absolute pleasure to donate that money.”

The university announces bikentennic block party
Days also announced that GW will be hosting a block party to celebrate its second anniversary early next month. The event takes place on F Street between 21st and 22nd streets on Saturday, October 2, and officials shut down F Street for about six hours that night.

Days did not say what activities or attractions would be available at the block party, but he invited commissioners and neighbors to attend. Online registration is required, he added.

“I hope you will sign up and come and help celebrate the 200th anniversary of GW in the Washington area and hope we can celebrate it with our neighbors,” he said.

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