Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Friday, September 16, 2011

The jobless in New Jersey find refuge in Tent City



Cars and trucks cruise along Cedar Bridge Avenue, drivers listening to radio anchors reporting the headline that a record 46 million Americans are living in poverty, while 50 feet from the bustling boulevard, hidden by the woods that border the road, lies a shocking example of that shameful statistic.

Behind the trees, six dozen homeless Americans have set up camp, in tents, teepees and huts, residents of what they call Tent City. It's a place where those out of work and out of luck can drop out of society while living as cheaply as possible.

"It's a community here," said the Rev. Steven Brigham, who founded Tent City in 2006 as part of his Lakewood Outreach Ministry Church. "They have a sense of belonging."

In the past year Brigham has seen Tent City's population nearly double as the jobs recession drags on.

Angelo Villanueva jabs at a homemade punching bag he hung from a tree -- a plastic bag filled with dirt wrapped with tape. It's a "stress reliever," said Villanueva. He's a skilled mason who worked construction jobs for nearly two decades, then fell victim to a sucker punch from the housing collapse. Villanueva, also an artist who has been drawing sketches of Tent City, never dreamed that he'd be among the nation's homeless. more