News outlets ranging from the AP to the Lakewood Scoop have covered the ongoing saga of Lakewood’s Tent City, an encampment of about 80 homeless people, which the town has been trying to shut down for years. This spring a deal was struck: Tent City residents will leave within a year if a homeless shelter is opened in Ocean County. But the story of the tent community has proved more indelible than a series of fleeting headlines. The makeshift village in the woods, complete with its own upright piano, is now the subject of a book-length poem, a documentary and a series of black-and-white photo portraits.
Copyright 2013 Sherry Rubel
Hank Kalet, an economic needs reporter for NJ Spotlight, was a regional editor for Patch in early 2012 when photographer Sherry Rubel sent over a press release about her Kickstarter campaign to fund a photo project on Tent City. Although the campaign didn’t reach its funding goal, it set an idea in motion for Kalet, who was also working on his MFA in poetry at Fairleigh Dickinson, and in search of a project.
“I was looking for something to sink my teeth into,” Kalet recalls. “Looking for a project to use both parts of my writing self.”