Howell landowner agrees to pay homeless camp residents to leave
HOWELL — The owner of a formerly public land where about a dozen people have camped out for years has agreed to pay the residents six months of rent for them to clear out by Monday.
The agreement was announced Thursday after months of negotiations between Lakewood businessman Richard Roberts, who purchased the property at auction in June, and the NJ Coalition to End Homelessness.
In July, Steven Brigham — a minister who founded Destiny’s Bridge, which provides supplies to the people at the camp, where he also has lived — told New Jersey 101.5 that the residents had been offered $1,000 a piece to leave. The offer was turned down because advocates countered that six months’ rent is the standard amount offered to people who are being forced to relocate.
The tent city is located near Route 9 and the Lakewood border. The property was purchased for $1.6 million.
According to the liberal Economic Policy Institute, a single adult in Ocean County needs about $42,190 a year to be able to afford the cost of living, including just under $1,000 a month for a studio apartment based on Department of Housing and Urban Development’s fair market rents.
“Once again, the Coalition has stood by New Jersey’s homeless and their right to have a safe place to live – not have to struggle to survive outdoors,” Coalition President Jeff Wild said Friday in a prepared statement.
“Anyone could end up homeless at some point in their life,” Brigham said in a statement. “Thankfully, there are non-profits like the Coalition and Destiny’s Bridge that will continue to be there when the homeless need a voice – and a hand up, not a hand out.”
Under the agreement, Roberts will pay 12 residents enough money to rent apartments for at least half a year “so they can get their lives back on track, including continuing with the low-pay jobs many of them have,” the Coalition said.