Saturday, August 30, 2014

Destiny's Bridge—a new documentary on tent cities

I'd like to highlight this powerful documentary about a Tent City in Lakewood, New Jersey.  The film overlaps with the ideas presents in my new book by covering life in an informal tent city, the ordered demolition by formal actors, and the demand for simple, grassroots housing options like the tiny house village.

The clip below captures the wrecking of Tent City. Here we see the human consequences of the narrow definition of "home" held by city officials and professionals, in their stubborn unwillingness to accept citizen-led solutions.

"DESTINY'S BRIDGE is about a homeless minister living in the woods who doesn't believe in the shelter system that has become the standard for housing the homeless in America.  Minister Steve Brigham, the founder and resident of this homeless community in the woods, known as Tent City, has dedicated his life to changing the way we house homeless people. He believes that addressing the emotional needs is the first step to returning a homeless person back to society...

...Minister Steve advocates that owning a home, even if it's only a tent, is important to moving a homeless person forward, especially when the only other option is sleeping on a park bench, at a bus station or even in a city shelter that kicks you out to the street every morning. This concept of ownership and community leads us to the Destiny's Bridge model of building tiny homes that are affordable to people who work for minimum wage and prefer a simple lifestyle without all the luxuries that most people depend on. The film questions our human rights as American citizens.  Zoning laws make it illegal to build a house that you can afford in most areas of the country.  Township ordinances that are designed to keep poor people out of their communities have made it virtually impossible to build small, affordable, energy efficient and eco-friendly houses in America...

...Over an 8 year period, there have been between 80-120 people living in Tent City at any given time without any government subsidies, effectively saving tax payers millions of dollars.  In the film, we hear the lawyer for Tent City state that over six million dollars was spent in one year on hotels for homeless people in Ocean County, a Jersey Shore resort area that refuses to create a homeless shelter.  Not only does the documentary explore new ideas for housing the homeless, it also challenges us to see what we can learn from the people living in Tent City and to use it to improve our broken housing system."

This documentary is complete, but finishing costs have held back the distribution of this important film that explores similar ideas for housing the homeless to those presented in Tent City Urbanism and exemplified by Opportunity Village Eugene.

You can help this documentary reach a wider audience by contributing to their Indiegogo Fundraing Campaign that is running until September 14.

Here's the official trailer for Destiny's Bridge:


  1. Mr. Heben, thank you for this article. I am a former Lakewood Tent City volunteer, and I am also working with Jack to promote Destiny's Bridge. To date, Ocean County still does not have a homeless shelter, but I am hopeful that we will be able to develop a comprehensive, sustainable solution that will address the real needs of the homeless. Again, thank you for this article and for being a voice for those who have none.

  2. I wonder what happened to the founder of Tent City? This is a wonderful concept made wonderful because it didn't cost a cent from the city government. Clearly, there must be some alternative way of housing. Although this has occured many years back, and lots of other inexpensive housing materials can be used, tents must be considered as alternative houses. Most tents nowadays are very sturdy and equipped with the latest materials for safety and warmth. For basic tips on how one adapt to camp life, see

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  4. Clearly, there must be some alternative way of housing. Although this has occurred many years back, and lots of other inexpensive housing materials can be used, tents must be considered as alternative houses. Dr Andrew Unterweger is a very professional man which is working in real estate field from many years.