Reverend Steve Brigham discusses the state of Tent City, which he founded outside of Lakewood, N.J. The county does not provide shelter for the homeless. Brigham's attorney from Lowenstein and Sandler, Jeff Wild, joins the conversation.
I was there today and impressed by the way they help each other, a real community. Some of them have jobs but not enough income to pay rent. There is something wrong when someone can work at above minimum wage and still can't afford shelter. All they are asking for is to be able stay in their makeshifts home till they get back on their feet.
What's fascinating, as this story plays out in the courts, is whether or not NJ will decide that shelter is a basic human right, and whether that right should be protected by the government for the public good, as it is in New York (Article XVII of the NYS Constitution: "the aid, care and support of the needy are public concerns and shall be provided by the state and by such of its subdivisions"). The fact is there is NO traditional homeless shelter in Ocean County. They're camped on public land, and they've claimed the right to organize and camp there as the public, as the safest alternative to any other arrangement.
Parks or other public areas closing at night is more of an issue of safety and maintenance, and as such is completely arbitrary in design.
Since so much of our legal system is inherited from the British Poor Laws, it's worth noting that the Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest were established long ago in part as a response to the enclosure of public lands and the commodification of open space.
We all recognize that there are certain rights that must be ensured by the government without fail, so don't believe NJ's politicians or anyone else that says safe shelter isn't one of them.
I was under the impression that these unfortunate folks were offered a place yet turned it down. Anyone in a park has to leave at dusk.The Holocaust can't be the term you use for every perceived injustice. It's not right to the people who were in the holocaust.
when you think about the unfortunate and tragic circumstances, including poverty, in real life history, such as the HOLOCAUST, that mayor and his ilk, in their ambition to deny THE TENTERS a residence, are HOLOCAUSTING those people. I thought burning Jews was over with NAZI GERMANY, but is freezing people to death less messy? Who has the right, the power to distinguish the deserving from the unworthy and do the "unworthy" deserve to wither away if they are not guilty criminals, or will they be put in prison, yet haven't they suffered enough? one per centers, open your wallets to let some air in !
1. INCREDIBLE segment, and I'm surprised there are only two listener comments so far.
2. Shawn from NJ's comment at #1 is unbelievable. It's like complaining that the Jews who were crucified by the Romans were unnfairly burdening the metalsmiths who had to produce the nails. Really, Shawn's "concern" for local businesses is touching. But let's be honest, Shawn: there is no shouldering of the burden for sanitation by local business, since local business can simply refuse to let the homeless use their restrooms. Duh!
What do these people do for plumbing and sanitation? Just because they don't have it doesn't mean the don't USE it. Who is shouldering that need? The local businesses?
I am a rabbi serving a Reform Jewish congregation in Lakewood, New Jersey. Beth Am Shalom is located just a few miles from Tent City. We have become active in this cause, first in collecting food and other necessities, and more recently in advocacy by joining with the Coalition that Mr. Wild and others founded. Jewish teaching instructs to take up this cause: "There will never cease to be needy ones in your land, which is why I command you: open your hand to the poor and needy kinsman in your land" (Deut. 15:11); "...the stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself..." (Lev. 19:33-34); "No this is the fast I desire: ... It is to share your bread with the hungry, and to take the homeless poor into your home; when you see the naked to clothe him, and not to ignore your own kin" (Isaiah 58: 6-7).
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