Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"Tent City" residents in New Jersey may be ousted

It's a big problem for the homeless. Not only can they not afford to rent or buy a place to live, some areas don't have enough shelter space to bunk in. So in some areas of the U.S. the homeless have taken it upon themselves to create "tent cities" to live in.

The tent cities are little pockets of land where the homeless bring their own tents to sleep in. These areas are usually safer than sleeping in the streets, for the residents take shifts to keep watch. Most tent cities share communal meals and have their own leadership structures.

One such tent city in Camden, New Jersey may come to an end. City officials want to out the residents to empty the public land. From this Associated Press article that we found at the Las Vegas Sun, we find out more about the possible "evictions".

Marvin Tomlinson has lived in Tent City on and off since the homeless enclave was founded about four years ago in a patch of woods between railroad tracks and a highway off-ramp.

Fighting crack and alcohol addictions, he has found life a struggle since leaving prison in 2002 after serving 16 years for manslaughter.

But he has also found a purpose as he saws logs and throws them into a fire pit which camp cooks will use to make supper from donated potatoes and canned beans.

Tomlinson, 43, looks over the tents in the community he helped build. "This right here," he said, "is an accomplishment."

But it might go away.

The Camden County Community Development Program wants to shut down the self-governing society by Thursday, saying its residents need to find new places to live _ a cold turkey approach to reducing homelessness.

The eviction notice is startling for the people who make homes in Tent City, a place officials have tolerated, even as it grew from a few people to at least 100 last summer. It's on the brink of closure partly because the founder asked officials to help its residents.

Social service agencies say they're not sure there are enough spaces for the diaspora that could follow after kicking everyone out. And while some of the residents say they would be grateful to have roofs over their heads, others just want to be left alone.

Glenn Neil works, when he can get it, unloading chocolate from ships at a Camden port. He doesn't like the curfews at shelters, and sleeping on the streets is unsafe, he said.

Tent City _ or Transitional Park, as its leaders have been calling it lately _ is better for someone who can't afford an apartment, Neil said. He's been there about five months and isn't sure what he'll do if it closes.

"The government's plan is starting to bite me in the butt," he said.

1 comment:

bon said...

We're part of the midwest exodus. We're currently residing in a corrupt little city in Oklahoma whose utility rates are three times the nat'l average. No jobs. No work. Insufficient subsidies to help pay for these dictatorial fees and charges. We don't even have a house payment! We just cannot afford the utilities. We must leave. We're headed to a community in the hills. I can't believe it!