Trusted Local News

Local News to Your Inbox
Enter your email address below

Homeless encampment found in Atlantic City Marina District

  • News

Atlantic City leaders had no idea there was a makeshift town set up in a wooded area in the city's Marina District.

Then a resident came knocking on Councilwoman LaToya Dunston's door.

A motorbike had been stolen. It wasn't the first thing to disappear.

Some residents have had their Walmart grocery deliveries taken right from their front doors.

The Second Ward councilwoman learned of a homeless encampment set up just off Absecon Boulevard.

One of the women living there helped track down the bike. She was upset that someone taking refuge in one of the tents set up along the winding foot-worn path had committed such a crime, and brought this kind of attention.

"This is how we survive," she said as she walked through the area with Dunston and Lt. Will Santiago on Tuesday. "You're going to (mess) that up?"

"Lindsey" is among several homeless who relocated to this spot after the city moved them out from behind the Golden Nugget on land owned by MGM.

"I want to get them help," Dunston said.

But that seems to be a path littered with more obstacles than the twig-and-weed-covered one leading to at least a dozen tents housing those in need.

"Grace" has been here waiting on help to get housing, she told officers.

"I usually stay in Galloway (Township)," she told them.

The tent she said she shares with "Ed" provides her some protection, with the Golden Nugget still visible in the skyline in front of them.

She is two weeks in to what Jewish Family Services told her would be a three-week wait for general assistance money.

That will give her an income that makes her eligible to apply for housing.

But that could be another 30 days, according to Councilman George Tibbitt who also visited the area Tuesday.

The plan now is to bring all of those here back into the city to see if they get benefits, said Kenneth Mitchem, the recently hired director of Community Relations and Social Services for the city.

He if one of about 10 "reinforcements" the city plans to hire to address the issue and help with the homeless problem, Mayor Marty Small said.

It is not clear what powers those workers would have, however.

One of the main problems is a lot of people here do not have identification.

"That's a non-city issue, when it comes to identification," the mayor said.

"We are working with a plethora of social service agencies to get them much-needed help," Small added. "We’re trying to find a solution."

The Department of Community Affairs is also working with the city to bring in a "homeless czar," he said, adding that the state controls that.

A DCA spokeswoman said she was looking into details on that hiring, and what it would entail.

Santiago, who heads the outreach from the police side, told his officers that they are not immediately removing people. Instead, they are to offer help, while warning the inhabitants that their time on this property is limited.

Walking along yet another path, Dunston worries that there have been children living back here, after noticing a stroller and some other baby supplies.

"No, no children," Lindsey tells her.

"She's a dumpster diver," she explains of the woman who collected the pile the group just passed.

One man who was cooking up a meal told officers he did not want help.

"It's very hard," Mitchem said of those who refuse help. "We can only help those who want to be helped."

"Robert" is one of those who will take what is offered.

He said he has been living in this area for about two months, after being removed from the MGM property.

He's originally from Ocean County, where he said there are no services available.

After working for years, he lost his job and then lost his home.

"I need some sort of housing," he said. "I tried up there (in Ocean County) but it always seemed to come to a dead end."

Time will tell if Atlantic City can help him find a clear path.


Lynda Cohen

Lynda Cohen founded BreakingAC after working as a local newspaper reporter for more than two decades. She is an NJPA award-winner and was a Stories of Atlantic City fellow.

Sunday, May 19, 2024
Local News to Your inbox
Enter your email address below
Real Estate Widget Fragment




28 29 30 1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31 1

To Submit an Event Sign in first

Today's Events

No calendar events have been scheduled for today.