Lakewood's Tent City is Ocean County's most sensitive social issue. A new documentary, Destiny's Bridge, making it's debut in Red Bank tonight, hopes to bring new awareness. Filmmaker Jack Ballo spent about six months at the homeless encampment site following the residents around through their day to day struggles. Tent City leader Minister Stephen Brigham hopes Destiny's Bridge will help bring about positive change and put a face on the issue.

"We constantly hear statistics and figures in regards to homeless people. However, many forget that they are people! We believe this documentary will help shed some light on the issues and bring more of an emotional element to the table," said Ballo.

Lakewood's Tent City as seen in the movie "Destiny's Bridge" (YouTube)
Lakewood's Tent City as seen in the movie "Destiny's Bridge" (YouTube)

In the past few years, there have been several issues with the site. Both the Township of Lakewood and Ocean County have been trying to get them off the property for several reasons, including the possibility of being a danger to themselves and others. There have been drug busts, fires and other issues. However, the courts are allowing them on the site for now. The issue will be back in court soon.

"I am not an advocate for Tent City staying open, nor do I believe that people should be allowed to take over property that they do not own. What I do believe is that there is a lot that we can learn from Tent City and the concept of low cost housing for people who want to be close to nature and live without the luxuries common to most people," said Ballo in a written press release.

He added, "I remember my first day at Tent City. It was liberating to see so many people living in a community without using any government housing assistance. There are an estimated 80 people living in Tent City and if you do the math it would cost a million dollars a year to house them through government agencies. When you think about the seven years this camp has been housing the homeless, under the direction of a full time unpaid coordinator, you soon realize that Tent City has saved taxpayers millions of dollars."

Tonight's premiere at the Two River Theater in Red Bank is already sold out. Additional screenings in the near future are expected to be scheduled.

For more information on the film and to stay up to date with additional screenings, click here.

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