Fringe: Tent City, Lakewood, New Jersey
Tent City, located in Lakewood, NJ, has been home to up to 100 residents for the past 7 years. Local residents have been calling for the closure of the camp since it began. The town was successful in moving out most of the residents by August 2014. Some were offered 1 year of rent free housing in neighboring towns. Others were given $3000 in cash to agree to leave town. The remainder were unable to accept either offer because of outstanding arrest warrants.
The aim of my work was to provide an honest look at life inside the camp and thus better inform policy. I wanted to make a document that can be used as a reference for people wanting to address the issue of homelessness. For those critical of the town, they may better understand why they wanted the camp closed. For those who decided to relocate the camp residents to residential neighborhoods without substance abuse or psychotherapeutic services, they may better understand that any solution is flawed unless it addresses the deeper psychological issues the camp residents are dealing with. For those who donated food and clothes to the residents, I hope they question wether or not they may be enabling the residents' addictions. While raising such questions, I wanted the work to emphasize the residents' humanity and encourages people to become active in advocating for the homeless in a non-cliche, mindful manner.