Get local news delivered straight to your phone

It’s game day—GO NATS! But don’t let scammers take advantage of your excitement. If someone is trying to sell you Game 3 tickets at Nats Park for $750, be very skeptical. Check the Office of the Attorney General’s website for more information on how to avoid and report scams. Also, the roads are going to be a nightmare so here are some tips for that

THE NEWS: 

When the NoMa Business Improvement District wrote an open letter complaining about the underpass encampments, residents who agreed would not go on the record and say so. They said so privately in online forums and emailed city officials, but many declined to be named in an August City Paperstory detailing efforts to get residents who are homeless and live in the underpasses to leave. 

City Paper’s Chelsea Cirruzzo asked for those emails through A Freedom of Information Act request and wrote about them this week. The emails, some of which were harsh, got plenty of pushback on Twitter; readers called them “dehumanizing” and “infuriating.” 

I spoke with Cirruzzo about those emails, with the hopes of elevating solutions happening offline.  

You read about 100 pages of emails from residents about the NoMa underpass encampments. Summarize the overall sentiment.   

A lot of the emails started pretty similarly. People say things like, “I feel bad for the people in the encampments,” or “I know there is no easy solution,” followed by a hard “but.” After that, a lot of them seem to echo the same complaints in the NoMa BID letter.

Have any of the residents that complained about the encampments emailed you since the story came out?

Yes, some people have been upset that they were included in the FOIA. Emails to public officials are public documents, like speaking up in a public forum. The city redacts email addresses and regular addresses, though. 

Unsheltered residents are also frustrated with the city, specifically how it handles clean-ups. How does the city’s existing relationship with this community perpetuate the narrative that people experiencing homelessness are “service resistant,” or do not want help?   

I think it’s two-fold: There’s frustration with the city and also the rate at which services are available, which can cause further frustration. Eric Tars with NLCHP said it best: People aren’t service-resistant; services are people-resistant. They take a long time. Shelters might not allow everyone and that can be hard for some people. Rick McNeil, who I spoke with in August in an encampment, had been waiting for three months at that point for housing. So, that’s frustrating. 

Meanwhile, the sense I got from the unsheltered residents and advocates in the city was that while the clean-ups are appreciated, they’re inconvenient. They force people to move their things and things get stolen or lost. And according to the attorneys who go there, sometimes people have their stuff thrown out because it looks like it’s abandoned but they’re just at work.

So, when outsiders from the community, like the NoMa residents who haven’t spent much time interacting with people, say people don’t want these services, they’re not really considering that there are multiple steps to receiving those services: being able to trust the people you’re receiving them from (which is difficult given fears of losing items or the presence of police during clean-ups, unless officers already have a good relationship), and then waiting for services that are not yet available. 

There are a lot of feelings, but are there any solutions to bridge the divide between neighbors?   

There’s a lot to be done and there are clearly a lot of relationships to mend and foster. The relationship right now is pretty bad, clearly, from the emails. City Paper’s Mitch Ryals helped me with my reporting and spoke with some folks in the encampments and they talked about how painful it is to have people stare at them. Aaron Howe, an advocate who is often visiting the encampments, says people hold their noses. Rick said sometimes kids will touch or hit their tents—which someone actually says they witnessed in the emails I got. 

Ravynn Li, who lives on M Street in an encampment, told Mitch that just having a conversation with someone can save a life. 

What do unsheltered residents and advocates think about the NoMa BID president’s quick fix—that is, bar tents in specific areas for people to pass through?   

Advocates and unsheltered residents have told me that it creates an us vs. them mentality. One of the conversations that was happening from all parties was about safety. The NoMa BID letter starts up on this question of safety, that residents passing through the underpasses don’t feel safe, and that’s why they proposed the zones. But unsheltered residents ask: What about our safety? Who gets to be safe in NoMa? Just one group? The sense I got is that the pedestrian safe passages will limit space, and also widen this divide where sheltered residents walk one way, unsheltered residents, another way. —Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? Email agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com

MORE NEWS YOU CAN USE:

Support City Paper!

$
$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

  • Civil rights groups file suit against D.C. for violating patients’ rights at St. Elizabeths hospital during the water stoppage. Their allegations include everything from treatment interruptions to “human waste” flowing onto bathroom floors. [WCP]

  • D.C. Health Department confirms first vaping-associated death. [Twitter]

  • Council holds hearing on making streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists two hours before 15-year old Amoni Richardson was killed in a hit-and-run. [Post]

  • Why the Nats game isn’t a cash cow for D.C. [WAMU

LOOSE LIPS LINKS, by Mitch Ryals (tips? mryals@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • Mayor Muriel Bowser is on Kojo’s Politics Hour today at noon. [WAMU]

  • Maryland Senate President Mike Miller stepping down due to health reasons. [CBS]

  • House committee subpoenas lease documents for Trump International Hotel in D.C., which stands on federal property. [CNN]

  • POTUS tells federal agencies to end New York Times and Washington Post subscriptions. [Post, NYT]

YOUNG & HUNGRY LINKS, by Laura Hayes (tips? lhayes@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • Ward 8’s only grocery store has an in-house dietician who helps shoppers stretch their budgets to build healthy meals. [WCP]

  • Congress Heights’ new restaurant River East Café specializes in “Crankin Cajun” pasta. [WCP]

  • Taco and Piña to open in Shirlington in 2020. [Washingtonian]

  • For the first time in D.C., baseball fans can legally drink at the World Series. [WCP]

ARTS LINKS, by Kayla Randall (tips? krandall@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Three local poets discuss their riveting new collections. [WCP]

  • A D.C. lawyer was consulted for HBO’s Silicon Valley. [Washingtonian]

  • You can now play with kittens in Georgetown indefinitely. [DCist]

  • WAMU introduces Unprecedented, a new podcast about the history of free speech. [WAMU]

SPORTS LINKS, by Kelyn Soong (tips? ksoong@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Nats Park will be hosting Game 3 of the World Series tonight, and the Nats are coming home with a 2-0 series lead. Chad Cordero and Brian Schneider of the inaugural 2005 Nats team will throw out the first pitch. A Nationals Youth Academy player will throw the first pitch for Game 4 on Saturday, and if we see a Game 5, Chef José Andrés gets the honors on Sunday (the same night a certain White House occupant is planning to attend). Tickets for the games this weekend are selling for over $1,000, but there are a number of ways to watch on TV around Nats Park. [NBC4]

  • Rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins struggled in his relief appearance in the Washington football team’s 19-9 loss to Kirk Cousins and the Vikings. He completed 3 of 5 passes for 33 yards and an interception. [ESPN]

  • Around 20,000 runners will line up for what will likely be a rainy Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday morning. There will also be a 50K race for the first time this year. [WJLA, RunWashington]

MAKE PLANS, by Emma Sarappo (Love this section? Get the full To Do This Week newsletter here. Tips? esarappo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

Sign up: To get District Line Daily—or any of our other email newsletters—sent straight to your mailbox, click here. Send tips, ideas, and comments to newsletters@washingtoncitypaper.com.