WASHINGTON - Dozens of homeless people living in an area filled with tents along the Potomac River said they are being forced by the city to move out from the makeshift encampment site.
D.C. police, city officials and a dump truck were seen in the area along Virginia Avenue and Rock Creek Parkway on Monday.
The people who live here told FOX 5 they are being forced to leave, and if they didn't, the city would throw out their belongings and their tents.
“From 11 o’clock this morning, it was a scene of their dump trucks and city officials out here, and their whole goal was to take down the tents,” said one homeless man. “We host a lot of protests and the reason why we host a lot of protests is to stop them from moving us. We are already homeless. We don't have nothing as it is.”
FOX 5’s Alexandra Limon reached out to Mayor Muriel Bowser who confirmed that this encampment is being cleared along with others around the city.
“We posted for 14 days a notice of a cleanup of the site so that it is compliant with District codes,” said Bowser. “We have had our teams out to make sure people have an appropriate place to stay."
The mayor's office said they would try to store people's belongings for a short time to give them a chance to collect them.
“There will be shelter space and I think that some people have already been placed and some of them may be in permanent supportive units," Bowser said.
Despite offers from the city to give them a place to stay, some here have refused.
"We have nowhere else to go," said Stephanie Abbott. "The reason we don't want to go to shelters is because they're not safe and they split you and your husband up. It's not what we prefer. We prefer to have privacy."
“There are issues of violence and there are issues of bed bugs,” said Mehdi Asadi, a homeless advocate. “There are issues of hygiene, so you have to worry about other people’s hygiene. You can't force anybody to take a shower, so that's why these people as adults choose to live in tents rather than live in a shelter.”
Mayor Bowser said she wants to get all of these people off the streets before the cold winter weather hits. She said if anyone has an issue or concern about safety at the shelters, they should speak to people working in her office to see if there is a different option available for them as each person is evaluated individually to see what type of housing they can qualify for.