In an effort to discourage homeless people from gathering and sleeping under the trees in Lakewood‘s Red (Town) Square, the Township has gotten rid of all the trees and cleaned up the area.
Lakewood Mayor Ray Coles tells TLS many residents have been avoiding the downtown area due to the activities going on in red Square.
The Mayor says some of the homeless have been defecating and urinating inside the square and between vehicles, and many people – especially females – have been harassed while walking near the square.
In conjunction with the Lakewood Police Department, the Township came up with the plan to help rectify the situation.
“All the homeless people living in town Square are eligible for section 8 vouchers,” Mayor Coles told TLS. “They just don’t fill out the forms.”
Coles says Mike McNiel of the STEPS organization has been working on trying to get these people permanent housing, but they refuse.
“Nobody should be uncomfortable walking downtown, or have to worry about stepping into something,” Coles said. “We want a family friendly environment.”
The Township will be replacing the trees with other plantings.