Lawyer Advocates For Relocation Of Howell’s Homeless

Jeffrey J. Wild, Partner at Lowenstein Sandler LLP Law Firm. (Photo courtesy Lowenstein Sandler LLP)

HOWELL – A New Jersey lawyer has offered a helping hand to the homeless community in Howell Township. Offering his services pro-bono, Jeffrey J. Wild of Lowenstein Sandler LLP will be advocating on behalf on the homeless community in negotiations with the township for relocation.

Howell’s homeless community has recently faced some obstacles with the sale of the land at 5998 Route 9, where Destiny’s Bridge homeless encampment resides. Since the official sale of the property to Dr. Richard Roberts by the township on July 17, the community has been arranging for departure, with nowhere to go.

Wild is a partner at Lowenstein Sandler LLP, a corporate law firm with locations all over the country, including Roseland, NJ. He is also the President of the NJ Coalition to End Homelessness, a “501(c)(3) non-profit with one goal: to eradicate homelessness in New Jersey,” according to their website. “Toward that end, the Coalition will advocate, educate, organize and, if necessary, litigate for emergency and permanent solutions to homelessness,” it adds.

Wild’s connection to Howell’s homeless community also runs deeper than just Howell itself.

“My father often was homeless during the Great Depression, during which he was raised by a single mother,” said Wild.

The Destiny’s Bridge homeless encampment, located on the property at 5998 Route 9, is made up of tents in occupied by its now 9 residents. (Photo by Kimberly Bosco)

He also has experience with litigation for solutions to homelessness. In the past, Wild was involved in a New York court case that led to emergency shelter being recognized in New York City. His firm also helped to secure housing for nearly 120 residents in what used to be known as Tent City in Lakewood Township. Minister Steve Brigham, leader of Destiny’s Bridge, was Tent City’s leader.

“After prolonged litigation, Lowenstein Sandler secured a victory for the residents of “Tent City,” a homeless camp in the woods, when the township that owned the land agreed to allow them to stay there until it had provided safe and adequate indoor housing for each resident for at least one year,” according to Lowenstein Sandler’s website. “In accordance with the settlement agreement, every resident who cooperated with the process received permanent housing, subsidized by the township for a year, and the camp was closed.”

Now assisting Howell’s homeless community, Wild said that he and his firm are working with township officials and the new property owner, Dr. Richard Roberts, to come to an agreement “to secure substitute housing for the members of the Howell Community now living in the woods.”

An agreement has not yet been signed.

“I have tremendous respect for all the residents of the Howell Community, whom I have met with, who include vets from Iraq and Afghanistan, firefighters, craftspeople, and other men and women who work hard at jobs when they can, but who can’t manage to afford an apartment in New Jersey,” said Wild.

As Brigham has vocalized in the past, he believes New Jersey’s minimum wage provides insufficient funds for everyday life. The cost of living in NJ is far too high to be affordable on a minimum wage income, according to Brigham.

Minister Steve Brigham shows solar panels that can power a tiny house. (Photo courtesy Destiny’s Bridge)

Wild, too, is a proponent for a higher minimum wage, stating that the current $8.60 per hour wage is not enough, “but $28.17 an hour is needed to afford even the most modest apartment.” he said.

Wild’s firm has done work in the past to advocate for better affordable housing options as part of their pro-bono cases.

According to their website, “Lowenstein Sandler has sought to ensure that municipalities abide by the state constitutional obligation to provide a realistic opportunity for housing for people at all income levels, including families with low or moderate incomes.”

The firm has represented the New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association, New Jersey Future, and the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey in past affordable housing cases.