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The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Officials to clear homeless encampment near campus in May

Daniel Heuer | Staff Photographer
A notice taped to a trash receptacle notifies residents of an incoming encampment cleanup.

National Park Service officials will conduct a cleanup of a homeless encampment that borders campus in May, according to a notice posted at the site.

NPS officials will clear residents and their belongings out of the encampment in Triangle Park along Virginia Avenue between 20th and 21st streets May 15. The notice states that officials will temporarily fence off the portion of the park along Virginia Avenue until fall 2024 for “park improvement” and renovations in preparation for the 250th anniversary of the United States’ independence July 4, 2026.

The NPS notice near 20th Street and Virginia Avenue states that officials will resume enforcement of a federal regulation that prohibits camping in park areas of the National Capital Region — which includes D.C. and certain Maryland and Virginia counties bordering the District. The notice states that officials will place unattended property into storage during the May 15 cleanup and that residents can retrieve these belongings by contacting the U.S. Park Police Property Office within 60 days.

A separate D.C. government notice at 21st Street and Virginia Avenue posted Jan. 11 states that District officials were supposed to clear the encampment Feb. 14 at 10 a.m. It is unclear whether officials are still planning the removal.

The National Park Service was unavailable for comment. The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, which oversees encampment clearings, didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

District law states that officials must give encampment residents at least two weeks of notice before a cleanup. If a cleanup date is rescheduled, officials must give at least 48 hours notice of the new cleanup date and time.

Lucy Medaglia — who has lived in Triangle Park since March 2023 after living in the McPherson Square encampment, the largest encampment in the District before officials cleared it last February — said she believes officials will only clear tents and belongings on the side of Triangle Park closest to Virginia Avenue, with her tent in an unaffected area.

She said she feels officials have “neglected” aspects of Triangle Park, like the trees, and they want to revitalize the park before the 250th anniversary of the U.S.

“That takes more power than anything,” Medaglia said about the 250th anniversary of the U.S.

David Beatty, who has lived in Triangle Park for about seven months after being evicted from his home in Kansas City, Missouri, around June, said he hopes officials will change their mind about clearing the encampment if he and his neighbors clean up Triangle Park on their own before the 250th anniversary.

“I don’t know if we can get it done before they come in and want to chase us all off,” Beatty said.

About 4,922 unhoused people are living in D.C., according to the District’s 2023 point-in-time count, an 11.6 percent increase from 2022.

Beatty said he is unsure if officials will clear all of Triangle Park or just the side closest to Virginia Avenue, where his tent is located. He added that he doesn’t know if he will be in Triangle Park by the cleanup and may hike the Appalachian Trail with another resident.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Beatty said.

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