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Atlantic City Rescue Mission Files A Lawsuit Against Ocean County [AUDIO]

Spencer Platt, Getty Images

The Atlantic City Rescue Mission Files a Lawsuit against the Ocean County Government seeking reimbursement for the over $2 million dollars it claims it shelled out so far in taking care of Ocean County’s homeless.

Attorney Jeff Wild, who also represents the homeless in Lakewood’s Tent City, says the ACRM receives money each month but claims that it’s just a token payment. He says “the Atlantic City Rescue Mission has incurred cost of approximately $2 million dollars over the last six years taking care of people from Ocean County and Lakewood. They have been paid $17,500 per year.”

During the interview, Wild would not review what steps, if any, the ACRM has taken previously to collect what they believe is a fair compensation for taking care of Ocean County’s homeless residents prior to the lawsuit.

Wild says the ACRM is not looking to go after Ocean County, however he says they are looking for what he calls “a just solution” in following 300-year-old poor laws. Wild says “the Law says that Lakewood and Ocean County are responsible for providing emergency shelter to the most desperate people. They can’t give them a bus ticket and send these people out of the county.”

However, the members of the County Board of Freeholders and the County Office of Social Services say they provide emergency shelter for hundreds of homeless Ocean County residents every night. Commonly, they’re sheltered in beach resort motels during the off season temporarily. They’re also housed in privately run women’s shelters, a Salvation Army shelter, a shelter for at-risk youth, faith-based shelters, Veteran’s shelters as well as money to prevent homelessness. Unfortunately, many of Ocean County’s homeless have fallen through the cracks.

Wild says “not only the homeless but a coalition of nonprofits, both faith-based and secular organizations, have been trying to get Ocean County to sit down and agree to meet and solve the problem.” He says, “the Freeholders have so far declined to sit down and meet to discuss this problem, as have the people in Lakewood.”

In previous news stories, Lakewood has held off on a court order last year to evict the homeless off public land indefinitely as part of an agreement arranged with a State Superior Court Judge in Ocean County so action could be taken in finding permanent solutions for the Tent City Residents. A number of Tent City resident have been placed in permanent housing through the efforts of the nonprofit group STEPS (Solutions to End Poverty Soon).

Homeless Advocate Minister Steven Brigham also admits to violating the agreement by building wooden structures on the land, structures that have been dismantled after receiving complaints from Township officials.

Lakewood has reactivated its plans to evict the homeless off public land.

The two sides are scheduled to meet in court November 15th.

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