COVID-19: Homeless Tent Cities Left Susceptible And Lacking Info

The Humanities Truck works with diverse populations to collect, create, interpret, and curate stories that can return to the communities they originated from and circulate throughout the DMV. As we confront a global pandemic, we aim to record social responses to COVID-19 by asking how individuals and communities across the metropolitan region are responding to the crisis by building and sustaining community networks. This platform serves as a space to share, document, and reflect upon our stories.

In partnership with the Humanities Truck Project, Eric Sheptock will offer regular reports and reflections on the impact that Covid-19 is having on those experiencing homelessness in Washington, DC.

Sheptock is a longtime activist dedicated to ending homelessness in Washington, DC.  He has been unhoused in the city since 2005 and is a long-time resident of the Federal City Shelter (the Community for Creative Nonviolence).  He co-founded the Homeless Voices Amplification Coop, whose interviews can be found in the truck project’s Community Archive. In that collection, you can find oral history interviews of Sheptock from 2012 and 2015.  He also co-created the Whose Downtown and Whose Town exhibits.

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I visited the NOMA tent city recently — the one under the train bridge just south of the NOMA-Gallaudet Station on L and M sts ne. People said that they used to receive sanitizer and COVID-19 updates from the city; but, that hasn’t been happening lately. I’d have to assume that this is the case with other tent cities like the one I was told is at 10th and RI Ave nw (having never been there myself).

I will go by the NOMA TC today to tell folk about the 4/1 curfew. I wonder how it will play out for homeless people. If you have any info for me to share with them, please call me at 240-305-5255 (my cell).

As for the sanitizer and getting info to other tent cities, there needs to be a dependable process that the TC dwellers can count on. Hopefully DHS, a recipient of this message, will take appropriate action.

The NOMA TC dwellers also explained that, with less foot traffic, they have less opportunities to panhandle and buy food. They have km legitimate reasons for not going to nearby locations that feed the homeless. That said, you can expect the natives to get restless.

If you bring food, either it should be hot when you hand it out or it should be food that is normally eaten cold. During COVID-19, the homeless have been given scrambled eggs, pancakes and sausage that were cold by the time they got the platter in hand. SOME food is hard to eat cold.

I’ve yet to hear of a homeless person contracting COVID-19; and, I’m certain that a shelter or TC being shut down because of it would’ve been big news. Some theorize that the homeless dealing with more filth than most people has made their immune systems stronger; but, don’t quote me on that. EVEN SO, be prepared to socially distance when you visit tent cities. Hopefully you’ll be able to provide hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol or the like.

Thank you.

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