Homeless In Tent City: A Frightening, Sad World.

Homeless.  A frightening, sad word.  Where would one go, to whom would one turn, finding oneself in such a situation?

Written by OSNJ/ Volunteer

In Ocean County, there is really no formal answer to this question: then county has no rehabilitation facility where homeless individuals can stay while they try to navigate a complex social-services system, not even a shelter for sleeping.  So folks have gone to the informal system—Tent City in Lakewood.  In existence since , Tent City is in almost every way a true community—it has had a resident minister for 4 years; it has infrastructure services, though not nearly as many as a “real city”—bathrooms of a sort, a cook tent—people living in Tent City are neighbors in the best sense of the word.

Many in Lakewood who have homes, are employed, and are fully participating members of mainstream society have been upset with Tent City’s existence, and the Lakewood government recently started putting into practice a consent agreement worked out between the government and Tent City residents to close down that community.  It was a negotiated agreement: Lakewood is achieving its aim of closing down Tent City, and the residents avoided immediate bulldozing and got—well, assurance of a roof for 12 months.  Sounds good, right?  Maybe.  Then again, maybe not.

As the consent agreement goes into effect, we are seeing the reality of how it is working.  A resident is given a voucher for an apartment, which might rent for $800/month (that is the figure for at least one individual).  That same resident is given $140 in general assistance and $181 in food stamps.  That is it; end of story.  Furniture?  Utilities?  Cleaning supplies?  On your own.  Your belongings in Tent City?  Up to you to move them—yeah, we know you have no car.  You’ll think of something.  Most important, what will happen when the 12 months is up and $322 will not cover utilities, food, and rent?  Well, Lakewood says, not our problem—we were obligated to put a roof over your head for 12 months, ad we did that.  Oh, and by the way, Tent City is gone now.  Good luck!

So one year from now, will we find newly re-homeless folks who once had a community, including a support system of minister, sanitation facilities, donated food to be cooked communally, and neighbors, instead scattered around the area, disconnected, not knowing where to turn?  It seems likely.  In whose back yard will they be looking for shelter?  And who would blame them if they feel at least a little bit cheated?

Ocean County can, and must, do better. 

If you would like to assist these good people as they go through this transition, contact Beat the Streets Ministry at 386/315.0168; Beat the Streets is advocating, along with Occupy Sandy N.J., H.E.L.P., and others, for the construction of a rehabilitation facility—so that what is in our back yard is a resource-filled home where those down on their luck can get a start back up the ladder to a better life; a place of hope and promise, not a group of ragged tents filled with despair.  Beat the Streets is teamed up with Ocean County Hunger Relief, a 501 (c)3 organization (phone, 732/505.4357), which is accepting all donations for our movement for a transitional Housing

Lisa Scalley April 12, 2014 at 07:19 AM
Wow!! Just another day. Just wow. I have a one bedroom apartment that I struggle to pay the ever rising rent on monthly. Where am I going to put all the homeless "drug addicts, mental cases and others" you so affectionately speak about? You are absolutely correct in saying charity begins at home. So since you seem so judgemental and entitled why don't YOU help?? Again, I say Ocean county NEEDS to do something about this problem besides ship ppl to shelters in Asbury park. Ocean county needs a shelter and since that land over by Forge pond has been dormant for a decade why don't we do something good with it. Something useful instead of another bank or resturant??
grace April 12, 2014 at 08:10 AM
@ lisa scalley you are right ocean county needs a shelter or two!! its time ..no one tho will want it by them. just like the salvation army on 37. people there didnt want it either..i dont think there are problems there. more problems at the hotels around there
suz April 12, 2014 at 09:03 AM
It is such a catch 22 situation. It is a fact that homeless shelters bring in the drug addicts and thugs, but some out there really do need honest to goodness help.
Paul J Hulse April 18, 2014 at 10:16 AM
First of all thank you all for commenting. Last year 115 people DIED in Ocean County From HEROIN 2013. They where not all homeless. Ocean County will have one shelter located in Lakewood. A shelter only offers a little resources. It is not like Kaswick where people go to be rehabilitated. Homeless people should be offered the same opportunity as all AMERICAN people. Not in your back yard does not exists anymore. Tent city Homeless are moving into your town for the next 12 months. We have developed a team to try and help rehabilitate these PEOPLE they got a second chance at a life. We first get the newly housed homeless the luxuries we take for granted furniture dishware pots and pans turning there houses into a home first. Then we offer services from Monmouth University Social Workers interns to help assist each person and find how we can help each person get back on track so they are not homeless again in 12 months. If you want to volunteer or you have a heart to help people who are homeless. This is your Class. Long time Director of Monmouth university Ellen Bloom will be giving you the tools you need along with education. The testimony by Stan Rosenthal and Paul Hulse will give you hard nose insight of what to except is going to happen. To register call 908-902-0769 or call 386-315-0168 100% FREE
Paul J Hulse April 18, 2014 at 10:35 AM
Also I forgot to add there has been roughly 45 deaths in Ocean County from Heroin and Homelessness in 2014. Ocean County needs a affordable Detox Rehabilitation Center. Not one that costs 2100.00 a day and only helps a selected few. Maybe some of the people that are homeless who are found totally intoxicated that need the detox center actually be put in detox and given a chance. A rehabilitation center is so critical to Ocean County. So we can help people and intakes will be screened and back ground checked by the local police force. Where the facility is placed.. This task will not come easy and it will come with great responsibility as we can only change lives one person at a time. We have to be teachers with compassion and understanding.


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