‘Tent City Movement’ forms to Advocate for the Homeless
The shut down of Tent City in Lakewood earlier this month is spurring greater advocacy for the homeless through the newly formed 'Tent City Movement.'
One of the group's organizers and former Tent City volunteer, Lisa Ferrara, is now the Coordinator of the Monmouth County Chapter of the 'Tent City Movement.' She said they want to obtain land to build a solution to homelessness. "Tent City was not a perfect solution by any stretch, but we did learn a lot from it and what we're trying to do is help the homeless in a more sustainable and more comprehensive fashion," Ferrara said.
The group is hoping to do that by gathering signatures to petition County Freeholders to provide government land for so-called "Tiny homes" or "Micro Housing" to be built as emergency and affording housing for the poor. "For the people that 'graduate through the emergency housing,' we want to get them hooked up with the proper resources like job training, or if they need it, mental health counseling, addiction services, so that they can live in a more permanent situation," Ferrara said.
Ferrara called Lakewood's solution to removing the homeless from Tent City, by offering them money to leave the state or providing temporary paid housing for one year, a "band-aid" to the problem. "The problem is just throwing money at them is not going to be enough. There's a lot more to it than that. It's multifaceted. They need access to the proper resources," Ferrara said, after revealing some of those who accepted the money went impulse shopping. She also noted that those who were relocated to temporary housing will be back on the street again when it runs out. "It would have been great had the Township just commissioned Tent City, legalized it, let the people stay there and worked with us and maybe brought in people from social services and brought in different organizations that could help us with the people that were having issues with addiction or mental illness or whatever is was."
Ferrara said "Tent City Movement" wants to approach politicians with a plan in its quest to secure government land. She added the group is in the process of building a model of the micro-houses with the help of a Point Pleasant Beach architect, who wants to remain anonymous.