Statement of the National Homelessness Law Center on Planned Eviction of McPherson Square Encampment  

(February 13, 2023) On February 2, the DC government announced that the McPherson Square encampment community in downtown D.C. will be forcibly evicted on February 15, two months earlier than previously announced and in the midst of hypothermia season. The planned eviction of more than 70 unsheltered D.C. residents comes after the D.C. Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Wayne Turnage requested the National Park Service expedite the clearing. The planned eviction directly conflicts with the federal Plan to End Homelessness. The Law Center urges a halt to all encampment destruction plans and housing, which the DC Government has available, be provided to every encampment resident. 

The National Homelessness Law Center stands in solidarity with our unsheltered neighbors in McPherson Square, and the many local and national advocates and service providers who have called on the Mayor’s Office, DC City Council, and the National Park Service to stop the forced eviction, and instead prioritize connecting McPherson Square residents to permanent housing, thus ending the encampment by ending the need to self-shelter in tents.  

Encampment evictions are bad public policy and do not solve homelessness. These evictions exacerbate and prolong homelessness by displacing people, separating them from their belongings, communities, services, and providers. The encampment destruction at McPherson Square is particularly egregious because the DC Government has enough housing for every encampment resident, but inefficiency and bureaucratic delays have prevented the city from housing the encampment residents. Many residents of the McPherson Square encampment have been evicted from other encampments. The Mayor’s office cannot deviate from its promise to provide services to unhoused residents and connect them to the housing choice vouchers and housing programs for which the City Council has allocated funding by citing a barrier that they themselves created.

The National Park Service’s participation in this eviction is in direct conflict with the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, which states “unless encampment closures are conducted in a coordinated, humane, and solutions-oriented way that makes housing and supports adequately available, these ‘out of sight, out of mind’ policies can lead to. . . significant traumatization— . . . which can set people back in their pathway to housing and disrupt the work of ending homelessness.” The planned eviction places residents in direct harm by disconnecting them from services and community and separating them from survival materials and facilities they need to maintain dignity and conduct life sustaining activities, such as using the restroom, maintaining hygiene, storing belongings, eating, sleeping, and resting.

The National Homelessness Law Center urges the National Park Service to halt the planned encampment destruction and work with national and local service providers and advocates to expedite housing and other resources for all encampment residents. The Law Center stands ready to work with the Mayor’s office, in coordination with national and local partners and people with lived experiences of homelessness, to explore best practices and alternatives to the current approach.


The National Homelessness Law Center is a national organization dedicated to using the power of the law to prevent and end homelessness. With the support of a large network of pro bono lawyers, we address the immediate and long-term needs of people who are homeless or at risk through outreach and training, advocacy, impact litigation, and public education.

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