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Jobless turn to "tent city" in New Jersey for refuge

Friday, Mar 22, 2013 - 02:33

March 22 - More than four years after the global economic meltdown, millions around the world are still suffering. Across America, tent cities have sprung up, and while they're the product of economic hardship, they've developed a unique community atmosphere which means many of their residents don't want to leave. Mana Rabiee reports.

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EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: RESENDING STORY WITH CORRECTED LOCATION OF TENT CITY TO LAKEWOOD, NEW JERSEY (NOT OCEAN CITY) It's something you see too often in developing countries. But this tent encampment is in Lakewood, New Jersey -- an hour's drive from Manhattan. They call it Tent City. Pastor Steven Brigham founded it when he realized homeless people in his area have no other options. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PASTOR STEVEN BRIGHAM, FOUNDER OF "TENT CITY", SAYING: "There is no homeless shelter in Ocean County, in this area, and so people realize that they have to protect the only place that they can call home and that's Tent City." Some 80 people live here. Some of them simply because they fell on hard times during the recession. Like construction worker Angelo Villanueva. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HOMELESS RESIDENT OF "TENT CITY", ANGELO VILLANUEVA, SAYING: "You know, I'm not going to think that this is going to be forever because I don't want to live like this, you know. I want to have eventually...go in an apartment, I want to have...back to what I had: a car, an apartment. You know, this should be temporary." By one estimate, over 100 tent cities spouted across America during the economic downturn, sheltering some 5,000 people. Many became homeless because of mental illness, or drug abuse. But many others were living middle class lives. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PASTOR STEVEN BRIGHAM, FOUNDER OF "TENT CITY", SAYING: "We've got a situation on our hands, that there's more people becoming homeless and we've got to really deal with this situation in a very aggressive manner to head it off." For some, Tent City is more than a refuge -- it's home. The recession hit Michael and Marylyn Berenzweig hard. They moved here three years ago. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HOMELESS RESIDENT OF "TENT CITY", MARILYN BERENZWEIG, SAYING: "We haven't regretted it at all. We've liked it here. It's not perfect, but nothing's perfect." (SOUNDBITE) (English) HOMELESS RESIDENT OF "TENT CITY", MICHAEL BERENZWEIG, SAYING: "It's hard for me to think in conventional terms, if you know what I mean. What is homeless? Is your soul homeless or is your body in a nice, comfortable place, you know? Like I said, in a way, you know, being out here with the trees and having a haven for the chickens and we take care of birds too, that's a home." But this community won't last forever. Neighbors have long complained ... and now a deal's been reached with local officials to find residents proper housing. Soon this refuge in the woods will disappear. Michael and Marylyn plan to move to another Tent City, and make THAT their new home.

Jobless turn to "tent city" in New Jersey for refuge

Friday, Mar 22, 2013 - 02:33

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