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Permanently Temporary: Homeless Encampments and Encampment Removal in Washington, DC Open Access

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Since 2015 the government of the District of Columbia has repeatedly pursued a policy of conducting homeless encampment cleanups. In the year 2018 alone, 100 cleanups were carried out under the direction of the District’s Protocol for the Disposition of Property Found on Public Space and Outreach to Displaced Persons. This paper seeks to better understand these cleanups by first analyzing the spatial factors that impact the location of homeless encampments in Washington, D.C. and then by examining the role that cleanups play in the governance of public space. To do so, I adopt a mixed-methods approach combining qualitative data gained through in-person observation, interviews with encampment residents, and discourse analysis of policy documents with quantitative and spatial data pertaining to the location of encampments, emergency shelters, and other homeless services.

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