Lakewood Tent City Being Dismantled [AUDIO]
Heavy equipment and construction crews are on hand to permanently tear down Tent City in Lakewood, as the encampment enters its final stages.
A judge's order made last summer called for the encampment's residents to receive temporary housing from the township for at least a year, on the condition the camp is not allowed to expand.
Deputy Mayor Albert Akerman said to ensure the camp isn't repopulated, as soon as a person is found in residence, their makeshift shelter is demolished within seven days.
"Every time we find someone housing, more people move in," Akerman said, "so we marked the tents and let them know that people will be coming to take their belongings and will be tearing down the tents."
Akerman said the roughly 40 or so individuals still waiting to be placed in housing are allowed to live in their tents; however they will all soon be placed in apartments.
The deputy mayor also said that most of the residents living in Tent City have no ties to the township, and when given the option for other housing elsewhere, they chose to move.
"People went to Bayville, Asbury Park, Camden, I mean you name it," Akerman said. "I think there were two people who stayed in Lakewood."
Once the encampment has been cleared it will remain that way, though rumors have swirled around the land being used for development.
"Nothing could be done because it's environmentally sensitive," Akerman said. "Some of it is a tree-save area and some of it is wetlands, so we couldn't build there even if we wanted to. Nobody could."