Lakewood, New Jersey, has found an amusing method to keep the homeless away.
The Ocean County Township pulled down many trees that were purportedly providing refuge for a homeless population, causing problems for local residents and businesses.
Lakewood Mayor Ray Coles told USA Today that the Police Department’s Quality of Life Unit had received reports that unhoused people “were pestering people,” urinating in public, and “defecating between automobiles” near the township’s Town Square, where trees provided enough cover for loiterers.
Those trees were cut down to make the town center less appealing to vagrants.
While the township declined to comment on how many complaints it had received, one woman who works for a tax preparation firm reportedly filed a claim after discovering human feces on the sidewalk outside her business.
Minister and homeless advocate Steven Brigham described removing trees as “very harsh” and advised the municipality to provide shelter for people in need instead.
He stated that the trees that adorned Town Square vanished on August 8. A few days later, trees that shaded a neighboring parking lot were removed.
He claims that “public parks” are for everyone, even those who do not own or rent a property.
Former WNBA president Val Ackerman, NBA players J.R. Smith and Mookie Wilson, designer Marc Ecko, and industrialist John D. Rockefeller were honored.
The city reportedly made 1,000 housing vouchers available to the homeless last month.
However, the president of one New Jersey nonprofit group said displaced individuals frequently lack the documentation required to apply for state programs, in addition to dealing with health care issues that may be contributing to their predicament.
According to the mayor, Lakewood Township intends to make the town square more family-friendly.