An Increase in those experiencing homelessness downtown?

via google maps

“Dear PoPville,

I work on the 1100 block of Connecticut Ave, NW. Lately, I’ve noticed a significant uptick in the number of homeless people camped out on this block. Have they been pushed out of other areas or is something else going on?”

Anyone else seeing an increase?

41 Comment

  • I’ve seen an increase over the last year of homeless folks, now with tents, under the K St./Whitehurst Freeway Bridge just off of Rock Creek Pkwy. I was wondering the same thing…

  • Same here. I’ve also noticed an increase in homeless women, and that in general the population seems to be more desperate. One woman came within an inch of hitting me in the face with her cup of change while asking me for money.

    • Same experience. A woman asked me for money on my way to work this morning, and I told her I didn’t have any cash, sorry — and she followed me across the street and kept asking and then asked why people like me ignore her. I wasn’t ignoring her originally — but I don’t like aggressive panhandling.

      • I had a similar experience with a man who yelled at me “Don’t give me that shit” and then began following me. Now, I ignore them, which I used to go out of my way not to do.

        • In September a guy asked me if I could give him change on the way out of a cvs, then he confronted me afterwards and was like, “Can I get that change?!” and I had to tell him I wasn’t carrying money and paid with an ATM card. He looked at me but I think he knew I was telling him the truth. I used to be able to drop $0.35 or $0.50 in someone’s cup- now I NEVER carry smaller than a $20 bill and I NEVER have any change.

          And the hell if I’m giving someone a $20.

          Panhandling is about to change big time when no one carries cash.

  • There are a lot of people at 14th and K. The park has basically 50 homeless people camping in it. Sad to see when I walk to the metro each morning and doesn’t appear to be getting better.

  • Same here. Especially near Metro Center and along E street in front of the old ESPN Zone and as always, in front of the Hard Rock Cafe.

  • Somehow I think this speaks to a deeper -not so talked about and yet uncomfortable subject of human ness that seems either to be missing or lacking in a city that really wasn’t so all about developers and the almighty dollar, that long ago. Mental illness, the unpopular much bashed churches and the ever so stretched community outreach that goes on and on. Face it or not we are our brother’s keeper and the difference between those with and without is more clear than water…I miss the old ‘D.C.’

    • Ashy Oldlady

      Compared to 15 or 20 years ago, it definitely feels like there are a lot more people in DC who don’t care about anybody but themselves.

      • couldn’t agree more! i’ve lived in dc my entire life, and the general sense of community seems to have disappeared.

      • justinbc

        There are also a lot less people shooting their fellow citizens, which could be viewed as not caring much about others.

      • Dissolution of a greater sense of community has been well-noted across the US for decades now (across nearly all demographic groups). This is not something localized to DC.

        • Really? Can you please cite some sources? My experience, dating back to when the Verizon Center just opened, aligns more to what JustinBC is saying. We are no longer the US’ murder capital and I’m pretty sure we average under a murder a day. On a personal level, I think most of the new residents I’ve met – a non-scientific sample- tend to be more of the granola, save the whales kind of idealistic millennials.

          I couldn’t care less about the “old DC.” I’ll take overpriced small plates and a bad metro over crack, Marion Barry, and murder epidemic any day.

      • I want to be open to people who approach me on the street or ask for help, but after several scary experiences, it’s just easier to duck my head and keep walking. It’s hard to feel neighborly when you are always on guard and feel like you could get attacked at any moment. I never used to feel like that, at all.

    • Not to be difficult or challenging, but what do you suggest? I have lived in DC for more than 15 years and there is a significant increase in the number of homeless and when you read comments here about the aggressiveness of some people, it doesn’t make folks want to approach or help individuals on the street. Regarding a sense of community – what do you mean? Streetsense is still out there in force, I see churches and other organizations providing food at the major parks on days and plenty of people still volunteer their time. There comes a point when the scale of the problem becomes bigger than the community of people available to help.

      • It’s also worth noting that from a strictly monetary perspective, a lot of the middle class who is more likely to relate to and help the homeless, were hit by the recession and are probably unable to help as much as they may have been able to 15 or 20 years ago, as you mention. It’s hard for people to help when many of us struggle (unbeknownst by appearance alone) to keep our own heads above water.

      • None of this will help because this is treatment of the symptoms and not the disease. The disease is mental illness. No sandwich will fix it and putting someone in an apartment won’t fix it.

        • Fix, no, but stability most definitely mitigates the effects of mental illness. For many psychiatric illnesses, routine is absolutely crucial, and you can’t follow a routine if you’re going to be moved on by the cops, or be turned away from shelters that filled up before you got there, or have your meds stolen, or not be able to get your meds in the first place.
          Putting a person with a mental illness in an apartment would stabilize a great number of them, to the point that they’d actually have a chance. And as countless municipalities have shown, it’s much less costly than all the emergency services we give to people living on the streets.

    • Not talked about? Jeez, let me send you to some blogs Trevor, it’s all I hear anyone yapping about.

  • Oh yes. A noticeable increase over the last year or so, and a big jump just in the last week or two. I don’t know what’s causing it, but the individuals seem to be habitually homeless, instead of lucid and down on their luck. So I expect it’s something to do with some service somewhere being cut.

    • +1. Agreed with this. I’ve noticed the jump in the last few weeks as well. I’m wondering about construction as noted below and perhaps the sealing-off of vacant properties where people used to sleep on the stoops.

    • Not quite. The numbers go up in DC as homeless persons come into the District from VA and MD and sometime from other locales to take advantage of DC’s law that guarantees them shelter and service if the temp reaches 32 or below.

      • This is a huge part of the story.

        Before I knew how the law worked a coworker told me her niece was living in her basement in PG County but moved out when she could get placed in DC, and then moved back when that fell through. The key part of the story is that the niece was pretty much refusing to do anything productive with her life and wanted to get taken care of, regardless of how humiliating it was for her kids, but that’s for another story.

        • Part of my point is that the niece is a Maryland resident using up our tax dollars by claiming to be a DC resident when it suits her.

  • There used to be an area near the Clean and Sober Streets shelter on 2nd D NW where families would assemble, but since the construction, they’ve been forced to moved. Its been a while since that happen though (a few months) but it may have contributed to the uptick.

  • I wonder if the outreach organizations that provide food have moved where they set up. They typically offer food next to the major parks, but it’s possible that they’ve stopped going to certain areas. I also wonder if we’re seeing more homeless people from the drop in the price of some drugs. Those who are at risk of falling into full-on addiction would be negatively impacted by that.

  • Same number as there always are in Georgetown. And it’s been the same people camping out in the same places making the same pitches for years. Pretty depressing.

    • I’ve lived in DC for 23 years, and have always crossed the M Street bridge on my walk to work. The same guy has been at the end of the bridge for the entire time I’ve lived here. He used to go by “Breezy.” He’s lucid and funny, clearly committed to being there day after day, and it is remarkable to me that he couldn’t put his time to more productive use. Anybody know his story?

  • SouthwestDC

    I’ve noticed a lot more in Crystal City also.

  • I feel like I’ve noticed more, too, in every quadrant of the city.

    That, coupled with the robberies, isn’t painting a pretty picture these days.

    We’re still better off than what I’ve read about and (to a lesser extent) seen in West Coast cities like Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco, where the homeless seem to have taken over downtown areas and parks, and become increasingly aggressive in a more permissive environment.

    • I would agree with this. It is not that we lost “a sense of community” that has increased the number of homeless in the city, but rather the opposite, that we have given them too many incentive to be in the city.

  • I have not seen a considerable uptick, same homeless folks I am seeing around, I have always seen around. Really for years at this point. Kind of making me think that revitalizing rural homes to care for them would be a huge improvement. Many of these people are very old, and in need of serious health care.

  • I haven’t seen any increase in homeless people downtown. I’ve seen the same individuals years after year since I started working downtown in 2008. I even have conversations with a few. I don’t give them money because I’d be doing it every day then. They tend to rotate from post to post every so often. We need better mental health care.

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