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Dozens of homeless forced to leave DC's NoMa tent encampment at the K Street underpass

As of 10 a.m. Thursday, the city has declared the K street underpass a 'no tent zone.'

WASHINGTON — Nearly 40 homeless tenants will be displaced Thursday, following the district's decision to shut down the tent encampment at the K Street underpass.

The homeless will now be forced to find a new place to sleep in the city.

The Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services said the move is for public safety, not to push the homeless out. They said the encampment is causing a safety hazard and blocking the already narrow sidewalk.

The Deputy Mayor said they don't want anyone living on the street, and the city is renovating shelters to try to make them more appealing. 

Michael Harris is wheelchair-bound and has been nicknamed "Mayor of tent city." He's been living in the underpass for years.

"I had to deal with mental illness, and the drug addiction that goes on down here," he explained, "But it still beats being at the shelter sometimes, because you have violence that goes on there, you have communicable diseases."

Just 48 hours before the homeless were called to move from the space, students at Washington Metropolitan High School decided to bring them a hot meal. 

They unloaded a portable table and set up outside the R.E.I. store at M and Second Streets and gave food to the tenants in the underpass.

According to city records, there are about 6,500 homeless persons in D.C., and 600 of them live on the streets. Advocates report that 81 people died on the streets in 2019.

It's unclear where the people who camp in NoMa are going to move to.

Two other nearby encampments on L and M Streets in Northeast will still remain open.

RELATED: Kids who came to feed DC's homeless bonded over one sad fact: the city is displacing both of them

RELATED: DC is shutting down a NOMA tent encampment at the K Street underpass

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