Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Does a county have a constitutional obligation
to operate a homeless shelter?

A county in New Jersey insists it has no constitutional obligation to operate a homeless shelter.

Lawyers for Ocean County made that assertion in response to a lawsuit filed by homeless advocates. The county government is being petitioned to open a shelter as an alternative to the encampments such as Tent City in Lakewood that have popped up in the woods off main highways.

"Quite frankly, we feel the programs we currently provide through the Department of Human Services and the Board of Social Services more than satisfies all the requirements to assist the poor and needy," said in Ocean County," Ocean County general counsel John C. Sahradnik.

Jeffrey Wild, a Roseland attorney representing some of the homeless residents in Tent City, argues Ocean County is in violation of the state constitution, which states: "Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of the people, and they have a right at all times to alter or reform the same, whenever the public good may require it."

Read the Asbury Park Press report here.


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