This weekend’s inauguration will displace hundreds of homeless people along the National Mall and within a downtown security perimeter, according to D.C.’s Department of Human Services. Officials will begin to relocate people overnight as authorities launch security sweeps to prepare for Friday.
DHS and nonprofit organizations like Pathways to Housing DC have been conducting outreach in recent days to tell the homeless how they can access services and housing during the event. Along with Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington, the inauguration is to bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to the District.
The city is expanding capacity at shelters to meet the need caused by the inauguration’s disruption. Based on figures recorded during last January’s “Snowzilla” blizzard, it projects that around 600 people could be temporarily displaced from a “red” zone that wraps around the White House and U.S. Capitol, as far north as I Street NW to as far south as D Street SW. Vehicles will have limited access even farther out from the core security perimeter, shown on the map below.
Several day-time programs that provide food and activities for the homeless will remain open Friday despite the D.C. government’s general closure that day. Meanwhile, hypothermia shelters will stay open from Friday at 7 a.m. through Saturday at 7 a.m., even while forecasts show moderate temperatures over that period. Certain recreation centers will likewise keep their doors open beginning Thursday at 7 p.m. D.C.’s low-barrier shelters opened this morning at 7 a.m.
A DHS spokeswoman says the agency has been distributing materials to those experiencing homelessness downtown that explain the services that will be available over the coming days. The District and the United Planning Organization are offering free transportation to shelters and day-time programs, although they note in literature that “traffic and street closures may make it difficult for vans to reach” destinations on Friday. D.C. is providing “limited temporary storage” for homeless individuals’ belongings, too. Case managers have been working around the clock to ensure safe relocations.
Last year, officials counted approximately 8,350 homeless people, including individuals, families, and veterans, in D.C.