Lakewood will not be closing down Tent City -- at least for now.
Mayor Al Akerman said the violations issued to the tent encampment's leadership were "just a formality," according to this report from 101.5, and that the goal is to get the judge presiding in the ongoing litigation between the township and the homeless to order a census. He said the township's goal is to see who is eligible for programs within the county.
Advocates for the homeless have pointed out that Ocean County has traditionally been slow to address homelessness within the county, a problem that has been exacerbated by the failure of neighboring counties to address their own homeless populations. Tent City -- along with Atlantic City and Camden -- have become dumping grounds for the rest of the state's homeless. If the mayor is serious about connecting the homeless with available services and not focused on shutting the tent encampment until other alternatives can be found, then good for him. But given the state of existing services in the southern half of the state, advocates and the homeless should be wary -- especially when the state's police and regulatory powers are being used.
The Tent City Project is an artistic look at human rights issues facing residents of a homeless camp in Lakewood, NJ and its connection to the growing number of tent cities across the country. See our Facebook page for more information -- and don't forget to "Like" us.