An upsetting video posted online earlier this year shows a homeless man’s makeshift shelter being destroyed by authorities.
Sam’s home, part of an entire group of homeless shelters called Tent City in Lakewood Township, New Jersey, was destroyed after a lengthy legal battle between the city and the homeless.
Tent City, which was home to approximately 80-100 people, was sued by Lakewood Township five years ago. The township declared the wooded area an endangered wetland, and stated the trees and environment had to be protected.
According to the DailyMail, there are suspicions that area where Tent City once stood is slated for development.
Following the intervention of a powerful, Manhattan litigation attorney, Jeff Wild, the homeless community counter-sued the township.
They reasoned that their camp needed to exist because there was no homeless shelter in Ocean County, New Jersey.
After a long-running battle, the case was finally settled last year. Each person in the camp was offered temporary housing for a year to leave Tent City or a cash settlement of $3,500.
Sam was one of the last people to leave the site. He neither drinks, nor takes drugs. He was a victim of the foster care system. He would often run away and hide in the woods—a place he felt at home.
Jack Ballo, who made film Destiny’s Bridge about Sam and the community at Tent City’s battle to save their homes, told MailOnline today: ‘Sam had lived off the land before. He’s a friendly, intelligent and hard-working guy.
‘He doesn’t drink and he doesn’t do drugs. He just wanted to live in the way that he liked. It’s sad because he belonged out there.’
Mr. Ballo spent a year with the community of Tent City, documenting their lives and what brought them to live in the woods.
When the police came to tear down his home, Sam asked if he could watch. They agreed.
Sam will live in a motel for the next year until he decides what his next move is.
America is the richest nation on Earth, yet still treats the least among us like dirt. Instead of creating a network for job training, and mental health, authorities believe they can criminalize homelessness.
Earlier this week, homeless rights advocate Arnold Abbot and two pastors were arrested in Ft. Lauderdale for handing out warm meals to the hungry.
While the Lakewood Township council was more than generous in finding the residents of Tent City shelter, the sense of community found in the camp was lost forever.
Mr. Ballo said of the homeless in America,
‘It didn’t take me long to realize that the answer to poverty in the United States is no different then it is in the poorest areas around the world. Maybe this country needs to provide the opportunity for the poor to live a simple life with basic necessities. Isn’t it the American way to allow a person to build a house that they can afford? Our society has become accustomed to creating laws and regulations that forbid people from living a simple life.’
Watch the video below