The District of Columbia is citing danger to pedestrians as the reason for removing tents pitched by homeless residents in the underpass below the lobbyist-famed K Street in the nation’s capital.

The local CBS affiliate reported that the move means 40 people will no longer be able to camp on the sidewalk that runs under the city street:

The Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services said the move is for public safety, not to push the homeless out. They said the encampment is causing a safety hazard and blocking the already narrow sidewalk.

The Deputy Mayor said they don’t want anyone living on the street, and the city is renovating shelters to try to make them more appealing.

The news outlet spoke to Michael Harris, a homeless man in a wheelchair who said he had been living there “for years” and that he is known at the “mayor of tent city.” He said:

I had to deal with mental illness, and the drug addiction that goes on down here. But it still beats being at the shelter sometimes, because you have violence that goes on there, you have communicable diseases.

The news outlet reported that city records show a population of about 6,500 homeless people in D.C., and 600 of those live on the streets.

In 2019, 81 people living on the streets died, homeless advocates told the news outlet.

Two other homeless camps on L and M Streets in Northeast Washington, DC, will be allowed to remain for now.

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