Tent City

Tent City

2014, Society  -   26 Comments
Ratings: 8.40/10 from 120 users.

This documentary takes viewers inside one of the largest tent cities in the country. Profiling several members of the tent community and calling into question societal attitudes towards homelessness, Tent City provides a humanizing perspective on the plight of those living nomadically in an elaborate homeless community within the woods of Lakewood, NJ.

The Lakewood compound is an impressive feat of organization and cooperation. Tents range from slap-dash lean-tos to elaborate, personalized shelters. Camp amenities include showers, numerous grills, stoves, picnic tables, a piano, domestic pets and chickens. One resident even administers a web page dedicated to the Lakewood community, working from a laptop set up within a small trailer on-site. It is common for local restaurants and warehouses to donate food supplies that are too close to their expiry date to sell, but still fresh enough to consume.

The community itself is comprised of people from all walks of life - some with mental health issues or addictions, others who are just trying to make a living in a world they've been priced out of. Residents include artists, veterans and even a minister. New arrivals are accepted with no questions asked. Those who need a place to stay are welcome in tent city where the fundamental rule is "respect your neighbors."

The residents of the Lakewood camp are aware of the way they are perceived by outsiders. One interviewee cites the common "Get a job!" rejoinder lobbed at the homeless. But, as he explains, most Lakewood residents work full time jobs and still can't afford a traditional living situation. The same interview subject works the night shift at a local drug store, claiming he makes too little to buy or rent, yet too much to qualify for government assistance outside of food stamps (a benefit that totals less than $50/month). Despite the considerable amount of work and coordination devoted to running the Lakewood tent city, the external world continues to view it's inhabitants as a nuisance.

Tent City shares a heartening perspective of life outside of traditional home comforts, exposing the realities of homelessness beyond the stereotypes and rampant misconceptions towards the working poor.

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2 years ago

if someone wants to save their paychecks and live in a tent, more power to them...but don't turn around say "i'm too wealthy to get government handouts" and expect me to feel sorry for you...

4 years ago

WTF is up with that "minister" LMFAO ........ I would rather just about anything than this kind of life. I know, I know...."there but by the grace of God...." STILL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

4 years ago

they can afford wi-fi, ciggs, booze......quite interesting lol

urban dweller
5 years ago

I turned off after the guy said he and his wife lost their "nest egg" (retirement) after saving animal's lives. So now their homeless. That makes no sense at all. I'm guessing having lost his teeth he might have lost those 10s of thousands of dollars from drugs and alcohol. Even though they're "vegans."

5 years ago

If your homeless, stop having kids. Also, a Jew on a unicycle OmegaLUL

5 years ago

Nurse is smug

5 years ago

How many energizers you need ?

5 years ago

No one living in America should ever be under such circumstances, there's no excuse for this. Now many would say that these people could find jobs, get themselves out of such places live out the American dream because well "I did it" is unfair. America gives so much to other countries but yet ignores its' obligations owed to its' own. Wake up American, stop ignoring your obligations you owe to your people...

Barbara in Tucson
6 years ago

As a vet who was a nurse in Vietnam in 62/63, I feel blessed to have my deceased husband's benefits in my old age, he passed from Agent Orange related lung Cancer in the third year of our retirement together, I follow my kids and grand kids for the past 12 years enjoying their charge into adulthood, I get physically ill when I think of what their future might be like with the world "crazies" out there now and in the future... when my husband passed here in Tucson, his last comments were that he would be back to help straighten out the mess the world was in then.....and tell us all what we can look forward to in the future! How is that for being an eternal optimist!! !!!!!

6 years ago

Does a squirrel pay to live in a tree? No one should have to pay rent. We are born on the land..and whatever we find to live in..is ours..free to live in. If we build it from natural, land materials..is ours to live in. Simple. It's simple laws of God, nature..or Natural Law. But, man made laws have set this corrupt world in motion..and this is what you see.

7 years ago

Do a search on "Hoovervilles" for a better idea of how history repeats.
The American "social contract" is written on toilet paper.

7 years ago

All of the people here have talent; all they have to do is put their heads together and sell an intentional community on donation for travelers. They can show people how to paint, play the piano, someone can do yoga...and they already have a web designer....invite tourists who would ordinarily stay at hostels.

Horst Manure
8 years ago

In a country were Apple is at present the worlds biggest company and worth more than the all the Russian companies together...????

Richard Neva
8 years ago

But for the grace of God go I. Living as a retired on a fixed income makes it rough, real rough. Each month I go further into a hole and it is only a matter of time until I wind up in a tent city somewhere.

8 years ago

I really enjoyed seeing this doc.
Amazing to think that this homeless community reached out to the poor people of Lakewood and provided them with clothing and food.
Tent City had it's problems, namely having to carry the lazy slobs, trying to care for the mentally ill, and sheltering untreated addicts. But this unique place also housed some really wonderful community members, be they unemployed or hard-working. There were generous, intelligent, and artistic individuals, who'd give you the shirt off their backs.
I wish the deserving ones all the best, but things don't look so good.

Eric Lawson
8 years ago

I was really surprised at the older couple with their music and art they were the most attractive couple. I was glad to see how they ended up at the end with a nice home good food and wonderful spirits. I wondered where their children were.Great doc.The minister is one in a million.Peace!!

Vera Gottlieb
8 years ago

What an extremely poor reflection on the 'greatest nation on Earth'. Yeah...

8 years ago

Tim at 15min-odd — a true hero, legend etc. ALL those superlatives.

8 years ago

Interesting doc. Two comments:
1) I am always impressed by the attitude of people at the bottom of the American society - they seem to have a strong spirit in spite of all. People living at the bottom of European societies would probably do a lot more complaining if they were interviewed in a similar situation.

2) Another thing - from what I can understand the mayor/minister of Tent city is criticizing the American Jews for basically cheating with public funds and thus obtaining the houses in the area and being partly responsible for people having to live in the woods? That is a strong statement!?