Tent City plight shows need to better help the homeless
As another winter looms ahead, the residents of Tent City – about 80 diverse souls – will have to muster all possible strength, with the help of their community partners, to weather whatever challenges nature thrusts upon them again.
The appeal from the community – more than 150 of whom showed up for the Ocean County freeholders meeting on Oct. 19 and shared a trove of ideas for more permanent solutions – seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
And now Lakewood is seeking a court order to close Tent City and turn out the residents to the street, just as winter rounds the corner.
Tent City is the alternative that people desperate for some shelter have put together. It is not the perfect solution, but one that ensures the residents will have some roof over their heads, a warm meal, a warm-enough bed and a community to support them when none other is available.
As newly elected representatives take office in Lakewood and Ocean County, it is imperative that they take a more compelling position on the homeless.
Instead of continuing to waste taxpayer money on stop-gap solutions such as motels, they need to work with those in the community who have been advocating for more permanent ways to house the homeless and work out a plan that is both humane and fiscally responsible as soon as possible.
The eyes of the world are on Tent City, and this is Lakewood’s and Ocean County’s opportunity to show that here in this community each person matters, no matter how disadvantaged they are.
(Rumu DasGupta is a professor of sociology at Georgian Court University.)