This is the old Web-site for the "Dillville" Tent City of Lakewood, NJ. Our camp was bulldozed by the Lakewood Township government in June 2014! This Web-site is preserved for historical reasons.
Tent City is a community of otherwise homeless and/or low-income individuals who live in low-cost shanties or tents. It is a makeshift village that exists in relative harmony with nature and is situated on unused forested "public land" in Lakewood Township, NJ, USA. As of a count conducted on June 19th, we have 29 residents living in Tent City, down from the peak population of 122 one year ago. About a third of the remaining residents are female, half are over 50 years old, and two are over 70. We also have dozens of former residents coming by to pick up food and other donations.
It all started in 2005 with a handful of homeless people from this area trying to find shelter. But thanks to the assistance from Minister Steve Brigham (of the Lakewood Outreach Ministries Church as well as other local supporters and through mutual aid, they were able to put up tents and gradually work toward attaining a better way of life. Many residents have since been able to find stable employment and move out of Tent City.
In these hard economic times, the need for a community like Tent City is now greater than ever. Tent City residents are being provided with basic shelter, heat, food, water, access to sanitation, and various other essential needs, thanks to our network of wonderful supporters and volunteers. In addition, there is a Church service provided daily for the residents of the camp by Minister Steve. Tent City's residents and supporters come from many different backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, religious beliefs, and countries of origin, but together, we are one community united by circumstance and common human values.
The municipal government of Lakewood has often been a hindrance to our efforts, despite the fact that Tent City is saving local taxpayers millions of dollars! Lakewood is a much cleaner, safer and more hopeful place than it would have been if a community like Tent City was not existence and everyone was left to fend for themselves in isolation. Repeated attempts have been made to destroy Tent City, even though its residents have no other alternatives. Now, more than 8 years later, the battle for Tent City's survival seems more perilous than ever...
Please LIKE us on Facebook for all the latest news, media, and discussion. If you wish to learn more, you are very welcome to visit the campsite in person. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or comments. Minister Steve Brigham can be reached at 732-364-0340.
Please send us even a very small online donation - to show your support, and help us continue on our mission of helping the area's homeless, both inside and outside of the current Tent City...
PO Box 326
Lakewood, NJ 08701
Please check out our Facebook Page for the most recent and complete coverage of news & opinion about Tent City. Please LIKE us on Facebook to show your support, and/or (optionally) get the latest news and media coverage of Tent City.
The Tent City Chapel is being dismantled by volunteers. Former residents stopping by to pick up donations. Jack Ballo, Sherry Rubel, and Alex Libman walking around taking pictures. Minister Steve Brigham and Sam Dill are working on converting an old RV.
Angelo's house has been demolished. Angelo has worked his way out and graduated from Tent City months ago, but his house has passed on to other people in need - until just today... This house is immortalized in the documentary film Destiny's Bridge, and it appears on the film poster and DVD/BluRay cover.
(More photos to be added shortly.)
"Save Tent City" and "Love Thy Neighbor" signs torn asunder by heartless metallic beasts. Walt's shanty demolished. About a dozen residents of "Mexico City" (a sub-neighborhood of our Tent City), having no place to go, move to camp in the woods somewhere else...
Is this the final weekend in the 8+ year history of our Tent City? We're trying to carry on as before... Saturday donations at Lakewood Town Square (1:30 PM). Sunday sermon (12:30 PM).
The smaller of the two crosses once built by Bert Haut, attached to a tree by the eastern-most Cedar Bridge Ave entrance to Tent City, has been knocked down earlier. The last remaining residents of Tent City have brought it to a place near the chapel, and built a shrine, praying for a place where they would leave us alone...
Dodging bulldozers, Minister Steve Brigham drives his frazzled school bus out of Tent City and to Lakewood Town Square (as he does every Tue and Fri at 10:30am, and Sat at 2:00pm). With help from other donors and volunteers, he sets up tables and gives away surplus donations of clothing, hygiene supplies, etc.
Upon returning back to Tent City, we see more continued police and bulldozer presence. Same again the next day. Tent City is gradually withering away. The problems of extreme poverty in Lakewood are increasing. Without a Tent City to go to, more and more poor people end up living on the streets...
Cindy Lanouette is a superhero volunteer from South Carolina! She originally came to New Jersey to help with the relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy, and learned about Tent City of Lakewood, NJ. Since then she returned to Tent City numerous times, spending about 50 weeks living with us in a tent, providing vital help for Minister Steve and other Tent City residents and volunteers.
Cindy has truly made a positive difference in the lives of the hundreds of people who have been through Tent City over the past two years! Words cannot describe how immensely grateful we are to Cindy for all her help!
When a tree falls in the woods, or when a homeless person is evicted from her home, do we make a sound? If we remain silent, such actions will continue and escalate.
June 3, 2014 - Minister Steve Brigham - On Today's Demolition of Dale's Shanty:
June 2 - Protest Coverage on NJTV News:
June 2 - Tent City - Rise Up - NO WAR ON THE POOR!!!:
June 1 - The Final Chapel Service at Tent City:
May 28 - Police blocking entrance to Tent City:
May 26 - InTentCity: The History and Importance of Lakewood's Homeless Camp:
Sitting here with a female resident in tears spilling her heart out to me terrified about what is going down on 6/1. She is on the census and has not received housing yet per the agreement that was made last year. She said: "I am not going to lie, I am scared." My heart is broken for her. She has been a resident of TC for two years. Please pray for all the homeless in Lakewood and nationwide.
In preparation for the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany, all homeless folks were picked up off the streets. They were labeled with a black triangle, and became some of the earliest prisoners in the Dachau concentration camp. In 2013, the city of Colombia, in good ol USA, also passed legislation to exile the homeless. Some say they were given a choice: FEMA Camps or jail. Many other cities, including... In preparation for the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany, all homeless folks were picked up off the streets. They were labeled with a black triangle, and became some of the earliest prisoners in the Dachau concentration camp.
In 2013, the city of Colombia, in good ol USA, also passed legislation to exile the homeless. Some say they were given a choice: FEMA Camps or jail. Many other cities, including Lakewood Township, NJ, are now following in the same path...
Times and circumstances are very different, but the homeless are still the "canary in the coal-mine", detecting the ever-greater encroachment of the Police State!
We are powerless. We don't have any way of defending ourselves. We have no money, no special talents, no political or media connections. Many of us don't even have our full physical or emotional health. The Internet is our new and only chance to break through the communications gap and have our voices heard! The only hope we have depends on the support of people like YOU!
Getting the word out is the most important thing for helping us to confront these unconstitutional and inhumane anti-homeless laws, and to create an economically sustainable and effective solution for helping and rehabilitating the homeless!
You don't have to like us to "like" us - many people in Tent City are very flawed human beings. No one owes us a penny - all support for Tent City is 100% voluntary. But our Natural and Constitutional Rights, yours and ours, are all linked - though some ticket classes are better off than others, we are still all in the same boat - what they do to us today can be a sign of what will be done to others tomorrow!
During its 8+ year history, our Tent City has had some positive effect on countless lives, and saved the taxpayers millions of dollars. Mistakes were made, and lessons learned. In many ways we were sabotaged from doing A LOT better... The withering and the anticipated death of this Tent City is a tremendous setback to the Life and Liberty of the poor, but the struggle is only just beginning!
Please invite your friends to the "Tent City of Lakewood, NJ" Facebook Page - it is the best place to get all the news pertaining to not just to our current Tent City, but increasingly the Bigger Picture as well. Our organization will persist helping the homeless and pursuing justice even if/when the Powers That Be finish eradicating the much-needed camp that exists today!
For many years, Rev Steve Brigham of Lakewood Outreach was visiting over a DOZEN different tent cities in and just around Lakewood Township, NJ, to bring them propane and other survival essentials. He was also helping homeless people living in the streets, sleeping in alleyways and under bridges, etc. Then things centralized on the Cedar Bridge Ave / S Clover St location, which was a good thing -... For many years, Rev Steve Brigham of Lakewood Outreach was visiting over a DOZEN different tent cities in and just around Lakewood Township, NJ, to bring them propane and other survival essentials. He was also helping homeless people living in the streets, sleeping in alleyways and under bridges, etc.
Then things centralized on the Cedar Bridge Ave / S Clover St location, which was a good thing - safety and efficiency in numbers. Quality of life, medical safety, and fire safety improved. Relations with the police improved (for a time, before the deliberate campaign of harassment started). The location was perfect - out of the way, but with easy access to social services as well as the Lakewood Industrial Park, where many of our residents work. It was good for everybody.
The Township gov't could have cooperated with us, removed the stigma of illegality hindering our fundraising, helped us evict bad people instead of deliberately sabotaging us, etc. This could have resulted in safe smokeless heating during the winter, more volunteers helping people clean up and rejoin the workforce, etc. Compared to placing people in motels, Tent City has been saving the taxpayers millions of dollars a year!
Instead, the Lakewood politicians wasted millions of our taxpayer money to sabotage, shrink, and eventually demolish our Tent City. We're down from 122 residents a year ago to about 35 now. Lots of people who want to be here are turned away...
So we're returning to the bad old days of having lots of small chaotic Tent Cities popping up all over the place, with no shower, no portajohns, no garbage pickup, no safe easy access for volunteers, no fire extinguishers, no chickens for tick control, no stove / fireplace safety oversight, no one to try to kick out the drug-dealers, etc, etc, etc.
This is bad for everybody - the poor and the taxpayers too.
Just as we've built Tent City ourselves from scratch, with a lot of elbow grease and determination, this Web-site was also designed "in house", by an otherwise-homeless resident of Tent City. We apologize if it's a little rough around the edges...
The content of this Web-site is automatically generated from an independently-hosted Wiki Site, where anybody can collaboratively suggest edits and submit content. Our original ambition was to follow the example of the San Francisco Homeless Resource Wiki, but to accomplish this we'll need a lot of "citizen journalist" volunteers from all over New Jersey to help us...
If/when this Tent City is shut down, other Tent Cities in New Jersey will continue to grow - and so should this Web-site / Wiki. There are well over 12,000 homeless people in New Jersey, and many more are "just one paycheck away" from homelessness. A lot of these homeless people are falling through the cracks and would be much better off in a well-organized Tent City, located out of the way on "public land"...
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