After seven years of legal battles, Lakewood’s Tent City was declared officially closed on Friday, with recalcitrant occupants dragged off the site by police.
With the site of the former Tent City vacated from Cedarbridge Ave., the township intends to preserve the property as open space, Deputy Mayor Albert Akerman told TheLakewoodScoop.com.
“Based on the discussions that I just had … today, June 26, 2014, is the Closure Date,” Jeff Wild, an attorney for the homeless, wrote in the letter to the township.
The site engendered hundreds of complaints of crime and filth by neighbors. Residents claimed that they were homeless and were seeking housing. But they refused to move when offered suitable replacements.
At one point, the site was home to more than 100 homeless people.
Akerman welcomed the closing, but noted it came with a tremendous amount of work.
“For more than a year [the township] has been working tirelessly to close down tent city by placing those who were living there in permanent housing,” Akerman said.
“We have accommodated all those who were interested in obtaining housing or alternative arrangements. No other municipality in the United States has shut down a tent city in this fashion. Homelessness is a federal issue — not a local one.”