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New Jersey’s Tent City Homeless Encampment Closes

A homeless encampment near the Jersey shore that came to be known as Tent City and shined an uncomfortable spotlight on homelessness in the suburbs was declared closed after the last of its 120 occupants was placed in temporary housing.

Lakewood town officials and a lawyer who represented the camp's occupants announced its closing on Monday, although the last occupant left last Thursday.

Tent City's former residents have been provided apartments for at least 10 months and motels for another two as part of a court-sanctioned agreement worked out between them and town officials.

The Rev. Steve Brigham, an advocate who lived at the camp, said the first residents began camping out in the woods of what would become Tent City in 2003.

"Without a doubt, we brought awareness to the fact that there's homelessness in the suburbs, and a great need for a shelter, and for affordable housing — smaller houses on smaller pieces of land that people can afford on a low-wage job," Brigham said. "There still is no shelter in Ocean County; this is a Band-Aid. It's better than getting kicked to the curb with nothing, but it's still a Band-Aid."

The camp began in 2003.

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—The Associated Press