D.C. Homeless Sweeps Contradict White House Policy

After fed­er­al and of Colum­bia offi­cials dis­placed the res­i­dents of a home­less encamp­ment locat­ed just blocks from the White House, crit­ics are accus­ing the Biden of going against its own stat­ed pol­i­cy, which, on , “equi­ty, inclu­sion, and ‘per­son-cen­tered, trau­ma-informed, and evi­dence-based solu­tions to home­less­ness’.” Writ­ing in Bloomberg City­Lab, Kris­ton Capps describes the sweep of McPher­son Square, which hap­pened before the Dis­trict orig­i­nal­ly said it would.

The plan to fight home­less­ness released by the White House two months ago strong­ly denounces police sweeps of home­less encamp­ments. “The White House urged offi­cials to instead tap into the resources made pos­si­ble by pan­dem­ic relief to con­nect those in need with per­ma­nent sup­port­ive hous­ing.”

Advo­cates for unhoused peo­ple point to the hypocrisy of the actions under­tak­en by the Nation­al Ser­vice and D.C. offi­cials. “The tent in DC’s McPher­son Square had grown in recent weeks fol­low­ing a wave of evic­tions in oth­er Wash­ing­ton parks, includ­ing sev­er­al on the arch­i­pel­ago of small cir­cles and tri­an­gle plots con­trolled by NPS through­out the city.” 

D.C. May­or Muriel Bows­er blamed safe­ty con­cerns for the , but crit­ics reject that rea­son­ing. “The dan­gers faced by peo­ple sleep­ing out­doors, advo­cates say, makes an urgent case for find­ing them sup­port­ive hous­ing solu­tions — but not for remov­ing them.” The fed­er­al plan itself cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly states that sweeps don’t work. “Asked about the dis­crep­an­cy, USICH said in a state­ment that ‘the fed­er­al strate­gic plan to pre­vent and end home­less­ness encour­ages com­mu­ni­ties to close encamp­ments in a coor­di­nat­ed, humane, and solu­tions-ori­ent­ed way that treats home­less­ness like a hous­ing and health cri­sis.’”

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