"Unfortunately, I still don't know what happens now," Carloni told CNA. He said that over the last eight months, he had noticed a "significant increase" in the number of people living under the bridge.
"I think that more people are getting priced out of DC," said Carloni. "I mean, we see another element of it where more people are coming looking for emergency rental assistance because they can no longer afford the rents and they are on the verge of becoming homeless."
Carloni said there is no "typical" resident of the homeless encampments, and that they ranged in age, health, and reasons for homelessness. Many suffer from mental illness. He said that while there was a reputation for danger and crime in the encampment, Carloni said he'd "never felt threatened" or been mistreated.
As a pastor, Fr. Carloni said that he worries about the people he ministers to on the streets, and when the encampments are cleaned out, he has to work hard to track everyone down to ensure they are doing okay. While Carloni was concerned that there would be conflict due to the melding of the various encampments, Harris said that there was none of that thus far.
"I've found [the homeless population on K Street] to be amicable and kind of community oriented, like I know a lot of them, that they care for each other," Carloni said.
"They like to eat together as a community and they like to share."
Harris confirmed this. As he spoke to CNA, other residents of L Street were helping him to move his belongings into his tent. He said there were plans to construct a community table on the street, where the residents would gather for meals and fellowship.
There are imminent plans to install a generator on the street corner to provide electricity to charge phones--something that Harris said is crucial in the job search that might lead to getting off the street. This generator was purchased with money that was crowdfunded.
Harris said that he had been homeless for about a year, and had lived in the city's homeless shelters before making the move to K Street. He told CNA that he much preferred life on the streets to life in the shelters.
Life in the shelters, said Harris, was over-regulated and no safer than living in a tent.
"[The shelters] are nothing to write home about," he said. "There's violence, there's germs, there's disease, physical altercations, and a lot of stuff that you have to deal with living in such close proximity."
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On the street, he said, there are no set times to check in or leave, and there is more privacy and divided up space amongst residents. In the DC shelters, people sleep on cots or bunk beds.
"There are benefits of being out here. There's some shortfalls, too," he said, noting that he recently had a tent stolen from him when it was packed up. "And I've had a backpack stolen too, but I've had stuff stolen at shelters too."
"Yeah, it's bearable. It's much more bearable than an institutionalized shelter-type situation," said Harris.
Harris will not be spending much more time on the streets. He received a housing voucher, and had there not been a "signature snafu," he would already have moved into an apartment by now. He told CNA that he has a "great support team," and that he regularly attends Bible study, church services, and a men's group.
It was these influences which helped him to keep his faith during his time being homeless, and he hopes to one day to help others in his situation, as "some of the people out here who are chronically homeless, they lose hope, drive, motivation, courage and faith."
"I've got a network of positive-minded individuals that's helping me weather the storm, and I'm going to try to encourage other people who are currently homeless to do the same thing," he said.