Camden’s tent city abandon; residents get spa treatment

    The flimsy tents that some called home for five years were dragged to a large dumpster by the road. For many residents, like Melissa Pacifico, it was the sound of a fresh start.

    Camden’s Tent City, which sits amidst the trees along the I-676 exit ramp, has finally shut down. After five years, residents of the homeless haven have been given a surprising opportunity.

    The flimsy tents that some called home for five years were dragged to a large dumpster by the road. For many residents, like Melissa Pacifico, it was the sound of a fresh start.

    “This is a big step,”she said. “These people are giving us an opportunity to make a life and to get on our feet finally.”

    She’s talking about the Nehemiah Group, which is a South Jersey based non-profit that raised 250-thousand dollars to shut down Tent City and place the more than 50-residents in temporary homes.

    Lorenzo “Jamaica” Banks is the self-proclaimed mayor of Tent City. He says after many broken promises from the community, his dream of getting out is finally coming true.

    “It’s a city that I built and it’s a city that I have to tear down because my job is done,” Banks said. “My job is done.”

    But the work has just begun for Amir Khan, president of the Nehemiah Group.

    “Believe it or not, this is the easy part. coming in and throwing money and picking somebody up and moving them is the easy part. Now, the real work begins.”

    After a day at the spa and a night in an upscale hotel, all Tent City residents will spend three weeks in a 50-bed facility in Bridgeton, New Jersey where they will be assessed for drug addiction and mental health conditions.

    They will then be placed in rent-free housing for one full year.

    Kahn says the funds for this transition came from members of the Solid Rock Worship Center in Clementown, local businesses and his own personal money.

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