City Evicts Elderly Man from His Tent in the Woods – by Ruthlessly Demolishing it in Front of His Eyes

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Top Tier Gear USA


Sam is a 70-year-old man who lived in Tent City, an encampment site in the forest in Lakewood Township, NJ.

He lived in a home he constructed out of a wood frame and tarps.

Last month, the camp, which housed 80-120 people over the last ten years or so, was closed by local authorities. Housing structures in the camp were demolished.

Police State USA reported that Sam was one of the unfortunate souls who lost his home when the government decided to come in and destroy the camp:

An impoverished man learned the true nature of government as he watched tearfully as bureaucrats demolished his ramshackle home in the woods.  He was bothering no one except the government.

After years of threats, the local authorities of Lakewood Township finally had Tent City closed down, and all residents evicted from the forest.  The homes that existed there — some for years — were ripped to the ground using heavy machinery.

“Can I watch?” asked Sam, when his home — a wood-framed shelter covered with tarps — was destroyed.  Sam’s lip trembled as he stood next to the public servants overseeing the demolition. It was an emotional sight.

The Huffington Post, in their 2012 coverage of Tent City’s impending closure, described how the camp operated:

They live with little electricity and without a modern sewage system. Instead, they use propane tanks for heat and a pump that sends water to a generator-powered washing machine and shower housed in a shack.

The camp is funded by donations from churches and temples whose members visit daily, and has survived on a budget of around $1,000 a month. In this thriving community, complete with a chapel, a TV room and bi-monthly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, new residents arrive every few weeks.

Residents of Tent City were making the best of a tough situation, and didn’t want government intervention or assistance. Of course, the authorities just can’t leave people alone, and had to intervene.

In fact, Lakewood set aside nearly $400,000 in municipal and federal tax dollars for Tent City’s closure. Officials expect the final tally will top $600,000.

Wouldn’t it have been cheaper to leave them in peace?

In addition to spending approximately half a million dollars to close the camp, the government is paying to relocate the displaced residents – at an estimated cost of $750,000:

Under a consent agreement reached last March, the township agreed to pay the rent, capped at $1,050 per month, for Tent City residents for a year while they got back on their feet.

Deputy Mayor Albert Akerman said Lakewood is paying more than one million dollars to relocate the homeless who agreed to be counted in the census, as per court order. “People are very, very upset because their taxes are going up this year and they felt like year after year we were spending a lot on Tent City and they felt like it’s one place to cut.” (source)

Tent City residents who were counted in last year’s census will receive those relocation benefits. Fifteen residents were not counted and will only be covered for a two-week stay in a local motel.

Tent City’s coordinator, Minister Steve Brigham, said that creates a disturbing situation:

“They’ve got no place to go in Ocean County. They’re extremely nervous and upset because they don’t know what the future holds for them. This is the only place they know to call home.”

Brigham added that although various nonprofit groups have offered help in relocating the residents, providing transportation to a shelter in Atlantic County isn’t the type of help they need. He said Tent City appears to be their best option:

“Food, clothing, shelter.  I’m sure they’ve looked around. They’ve assessed the situation. They see what Atlantic City Mission looks like and what it runs like. You have to leave during the day and wander the streets and you’re just another number. There’s no community.”

Government zoning laws and inhumane policies only make life harder for the homeless, explains Brigham:

“The townships have created ordinances that say you have to have so much property before you can build a house. And what that does, is that chases out the poor person.”

They can’t win, can they? The government essentially makes it illegal to BE homeless, yet their policies are often the REASON people end up without anywhere to go.

A lot of the people who lived in Tent City don’t have the skills, resources, or support system to get jobs and be able to afford housing in Ocean County, according to Brigham.

But some of the camp’s former residents were once gainfully employed and are victims of the dire economic situation in the US.

Marilyn Berenzweig was one of those people. She shared her story with The Huffington Post:

A textile designer, she earned $100,000 a year and lived a comfortable New York City life with her husband, a former radio producer. They paid $2,000 month for their apartment, kept a vegan diet, and had had a soft spot for pet birds — ultimately collecting so many that they devoted a room to housing them.

But her world came crumbling two years ago when she lost her job in the recession. Like many of the jobless, Berenzweig couldn’t fund her old lifestyle with meager unemployment payments. She downsized. She moved from place to place.

Today, Berenzweig eats, sleeps and entertains in a two-person tent in the middle of the woods. On her recent 61st birthday, she was one of dozens of people, from the chronically homeless to former professionals like herself, who have come to call such places home.

“We’re too young for Social Security and too old to to be trained for another job,” she said recently, standing by a makeshift kitchen table under a tarp outside her tent. “So here we are.”

As Joshua Krause explains in his article It’s Official: Being Poor in America Has Been Outlawed, we’ve become “a nation that discards our poor like they are trash.” Homeless people are being fined for arbitrary offenses and are being prohibited from sleeping in public. Some cities have even made it illegal or ridiculously expensive to feed the homeless. Krause suggests that there really isn’t a point in having a government in the first place if they are going to mistreat the poor – in fact, he says, “I’m not asking the government to step in and help. I’m not asking for them to provide free housing or increase welfare entitlements. I’m asking them to stay out of the way. How could you make it so difficult for private citizens to help each other out?”

Indeed – why can’t the government just let us take care of each other? Americans are known for being generous – in fact, we donate billions on an annual basis:

Every year, American individuals donate more than $200 billion to charities. Tens of billions of dollars more reach US charities through foundations and other family- and individual-giving vehicles. This giving, far more in volume than any other country in the world, has engendered much praise for the generosity of the American public. Politicians, commentators, and public officials all frequently congratulate Americans for being the most generous people on earth. (source)

Tent City was operating on donations, and was mostly left undisturbed by the local authorities for nearly a decade  – why the sudden push to close it and force its residents to suffer further?

Deputy Mayor Akerman said Lakewood plans to plant 15,000 trees on the site – funded by a grant from the NJ Turnpike Authority.

Could it be that the city has bigger plans for the area formerly occupied by Tent City?

That remains to be seen.

In the meantime, an upcoming documentary about Tent City is in the final stages of production. The film, called Destiny’s Bridge, “questions the human rights of the poor while exploring new ideas for housing the homeless.”

(H/T to Police State USA)

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  • Undecider

    They were likely shutdown because they were noticeable. A smelly and unsightly mob. For people who want to do this, be neat about it. Be deep enough into the weeds that regular people won’t spot you. Don’t have so many people that it turns into a circus.

    Basically, live in a manner so as to NOT attract attention.

    • PJ London

      They have been there for 10 years, there is a video of the city on youtube (used to be).

      They were doing their best, had a laundry and outlawed alcohol and drugs.
      They were deep in the woods, no-one complained about them, and there were no sanitary or health violations. The police had no problem with the camp.

      What you missed was “Once Tent City is completely dismantled, Akerman said Lakewood plans on replanting about 15,000 trees with a grant from the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.”

      At only $100.00 per tree that puts $1.5m into the pockets of the politicians of Lakewood, and 10:1 some relative gets the contract.

  • Notgotany

    I have much sympathy for these individuals and since they appear to be strong and able I hope they can make new arrangements in spite of the petty tyrants who have their egos inflated and a will to hurt others.
    Also I would like to address another aspect of these laws and ordinances that are being passed in various locales. There are people and I do not have the percentages, anyway there are people who have some money, a job and though they could pay someone to rent a place or burden themselves with a mortgage that is inflated and once paid does not give you actual ownership of a home. But they choose to keep their money and the land they were born into to live as they choose. Isn’t that the most basic part of freedom? If you cannot live on the land you were born into, happen to be a full citizen of without the burden of paying your wealth into someone else’s pocket then how could you be free?
    Sure some will argue that it is not right to sleep here or there, but why? If they are not hurting anyone or damaging anything why bother them? There is no good reason just petty bureaucratic meddling and some local resident arrogance.
    So far as quality of life laws, what about their quality of life? It is a subjective measure anyway, no one can say what constitutes a quality of life for everyone. And it is being taken from those who do not have homes. Why? Who does this impress? Are we out to win an award for the worst country in the history of the world? Maybe they are just paid not to think how insane their actions really are.
    Most are homeless because of other policies and actions by petty bureaucrats which made housing too expensive and companies that allowed greed to make them send jobs away and invite an invasion of cheap labor, which will only worsen the homeless issue not improve it.
    So what we have are laws that strip the basic freedom to live from people they feel are powerless to fight back. It is unlawful to lie down or consume food in some areas. these are basic human activities so it follows that being human is not allowed. This is not progressive, this is regressive.
    When people say they are progressive I always inquire what they are progressing toward and they always struggle to answer. I can see why.
    America is occupied and it will become clearer as the months progress. Illegal invaders are being given money, housing, food stamps, health care and everything they want. Americans who were victimized by out of control greed and corruption are being made into criminals. If you suffer from being robbed and cheated then you are a criminal. If you choose to be free of leases and mortgages and property taxes and lies you are a criminal.
    However if you are a crony and steal, lie, cheat, and murder then you are golden. Also if you are an illegal you get a free pass.
    How much longer can this be tolerated?

  • Reverend Draco

    Since it’s now been made illegal to demonize, harass, or otherwise violate blacks, Mexicans, gays. . . the last bastion of the terminally ignorant anti-human bigots is, resorting to Domicilism.

    This is a Prime Example of Ringo’s Law in action.

  • Rick E.

    It’s so easy to kick a dog when he’s down, isn’t it? And it’s just as cowardly!
    God forbid that one is visibly poor! (THIS IS the crux of the matter-being poor in public)

    It makes most folks uncomfortable, as it reminds them of how close one can be from living in the streets. And it reminds them that for many, the American dream is a nightmare-not roses, puppies, and 2 cars in the driveway. And THAT reality also makes folks uncomfortable.

    We send money to foreign countries literally by the billions, and welcome the illegals, while many of our OWN folks are starving and living in almost subhuman conditions!

  • robert j mcgregor

    THE REASON WHY HE STAYED IN THAT AREA WAS THE LOCAL FOOD BANK if he moved to a farm area and worked on a farm he could find cheap housing

    • L O

      Not true, I live smack dab in the middle of farm country. Housing is provided only during harvest season i.. after the fruits picked, you are on your own. thats why they are called migrant workers.

      • robert j mcgregor

        i lived in the woods for one summer, i washed dishes at a truck stop, i hid my camp and never told anyone where i lived, if you hire on as a farm/ranch hand you can get free housing, the apple orchards in wash state have year round people living in their migrant housing just to ensure enough pickers at harvest. i met a guy at a restraraunt in missoulia montana, he said he was a ranch hand, he made $1,500 a month plus room and food plus a pickup with a gas credit card

      • robert j mcgregor

        this guy is just lazy, if you are willing to work you can always find something

  • paw

    This is why changeable law is corrupt law. This is why government fails…because government can never take care of its poorest people. Unchangeable law, however is not corrupt. Self-Sustained Protectorate can safeguard freedoms and will never allow for the ability of corrupt politicians to boot the poor people out of their county, or out of their state.

  • dan

    This is what GOVERNMENTS …DO….lord over others….ALL the time….by force….till they are removced….imho

  • L O

    Interesting.. every post I read is against this sort of treatment, yet we are powerless to do anything about it

  • blackhawk132

    Fire the mayor and anyone who voted for this travesty and every job they look for in the future. Then maybe they will understand homelessness. What a sham and a shame on you people.

  • Jakob Stagg

    Where does he go from there? To a FEMA camp and the “final solution”? They will becoming for you, and nobody will be left to stand up for you.

  • robert rogers

    It is illegal to be homeless in the Land of the Free. It is also illegal in many places to feed the poor and hungry – doing so can land you in a cage (jail) in the Land of the Free.

    Is this truly the Land of the Free? You be the judge.

  • joe