Fasanelli said the city has made vague commitments about its intent to transition the homeless living in the encampment to permanent housing, but that's not good enough. Her organization also provides outreach to the individuals at the encampment as well as legal services.
"Our fear is that the city will move them into congregate emergency shelters, which is absurd at many levels," Fasanelli said. "Many of the homeless in the city left the congregate shelter to sleep outside. … Taking away what little housing structure someone has in favor of less housing like an emergency shelter is an abomination."
Fasanelli said the city should follow the "housing first" strategy adopted in its 10-year plan to end homelessness, the Journey Home, now at the halfway mark. The plan: Put a roof over a person's head and then work to stabilize their lives.
Providing hotel rooms in the past didn't work as intended, said Gabby Knighton, outreach coordinator for the city's homeless services program. The individuals living in the encampment bring to the hotel whatever trouble they're experiencing, including violence, she said.
In addition, she said, money spent on hotel stays takes away from cash the city has to transition people to individual housing. And providing the rooms to those in the encampments isn't fair to the other 4,000 men, women and children who are homeless in Baltimore every night, Knighton said.
Police trained to work with such populations will be on site when the encampment is cleared to de-escalate any tensions that might arise. If the residents of the encampment don't remove their personal belongings, they will be able to contact their case managers to retrieve the items.
On a recent day at the encampment, Kevin Gipson, 43, swiped a few pieces of fruit from a bag outside the tent that Gipson loaned a friend when he found a room in an assisted living facility.
Out of the tent poured a pit bull, two men and a woman who clasped hands with Gipson to say hello. Gipson said he missed the camaraderie at the encampment.
"You might live in the dirt … but at least you have peace," Gipson said.
He shook his head at the city's decision to tear it down.
"That's a raw deal," Gipson said. "I don't understand that. We ain't never had no trouble."
Baltimore Sun reporter Carrie Wells contributed to this article.