Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Report on Court Hearing: Possible Break-Through With Lakewood

For years, our Coalition has stood side by side with the homeless men and women forced to live in the woods of Lakewood’s Tent City.  Together, we have stood up for some basic principles.  For example, we believe that the homeless have a right to survive on public land until the government gives them a better place to go -- that is, the safe indoor housing that everyone deserves.  Now, we are on the verge of a break-through.

Late Friday, after years of trying -- unsuccessfully -- to eject the homeless, Lakewood finally agreed with what our Coalition has been saying all along.  Under a settlement-in-principle announced by the Court, Lakewood would be barred from ejecting any of Tent City’s current residents unless and until those residents are given housing -- not just a motel room for a night or two, but safe and adequate housing for at least a full year.  Below is a link to one of the many news reports about this major development:

As a first step, the parties would cooperate in a census of Tent City’s residents -- approximately 100 men and women by some estimates -- as well as a screening of the residents for possible governmental benefits.   At the same time, the litigation against Ocean County and its Board of Social Services (the “County”) will continue -- that is, at least until the County stops turning away large numbers of homeless men, women and children, and finally makes emergency shelter available in the County.   In addition, the County continues to face a claim for more than $2 million in damages alleged by the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, to which the County for years has “exported” large numbers of its homeless without fair reimbursement.

Much work remains to be done, including finalization of the settlement-in-principle with Lakewood.  However, thanks to you and the Coalition, we are making tremendous progress.  The residents of Tent City are safe from ejectment -- and, finally, moving closer to the housing that this case has always been about.

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