District of Columbia authorities started ripping down tent camps across the city over the past several weeks and homeless advocates are threatening to sue.
On Nov. 20, city officials swept a homeless encampment located on D.C.-owned land near the Whitehurst Freeway.
District Department of Transportation taped infraction notices on the fronts of tents the people were living in, before forcing them to put their belongings in storage bins controlled by the city, The Washington Post reports.
After collecting tents and belongings from the homeless, representatives from District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority fenced off the area for use in a future construction project.
Now, after several other tent camps across the District have been raided by city crews, advocates say they might file a lawsuit.
Ann Marie Staudenmaier, an attorney with the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, told local radio station WAMU the city mishandled the eviction of these homeless camps and the former residents are owed restitution.
“The people whose belongings have been destroyed by the city have a legal claim against the city for the loss of those belongings and for the pain and suffering caused by the fact that they are now going to have to be sleeping on the streets with none of their belongings with them,” she said.
Since the initial raid at the Whitehurst camp, seven of the homeless people were moved into private dwellings by the District, the Washington City Paper reports.
“The Department of Human Services has worked with each individual at the site to assess what services they are eligible for—and a number of additional folks will move into housing in the coming days,” Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Brenda Donald said in a statement following another sweep of the camp last week.
The secondary sweep cleared out about 10 additional homeless people who stayed at the camp after the initial clearing. They, too, were offered help storing their belongings by the city.
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