Tattering of Tent City Begins in Lakewood
A dwindling population of about 50 denizens of Lakewood's Tent City today watched giant swaths of their encampment meet bulldozers as the township ramps up its push to place roofs over their heads.
The Lakewood Scoop today reports the razing of dozens of makeshift living quarters in the zone near Cedarbridge Avenue where a constantly-shifting mass of people have sought refuge from homelessness for many years.
People in the targeted tents had been given a week to clear away their personal effects, Deputy Mayor Al Akerman said.
Lakewood's commitment to relocating the homeless dwellers stems from a consent order in court proceedings aimed at resolving a longstanding struggle involving land ownership, human rights, environmental concerns and public safety issues.
According to Minister Stephen Brigham, who has advocated for people in the enclave for more than a decade, the housing situation lasts a year. He expresses confidence that the remaining dwellers will be given living quarters, but is quick to add that the real problem is to place them back in productive lives.
Brigham chastised officials who create "an economic climate where people can't afford to live." He still advocates for an Ocean County homeless shelter, but also seeks avenues to allow homeless dwellers access to gainful employment.
Several months ago, while still in the Mayor's seat, Akerman had told WOBM News that the township also paid travel expenses of Tent City dwellers who would rather simply leave town.
Akerman estimated that roughly half of those in the encampment had been placed in available living spaces.