While Rome wasn’t built in a day, this cardboard city will be built and taken down in one.
Beginning at 6 p.m. today and ending at 6 a.m. Saturday, Somerset County will be home to this cardboard city, which will be located at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Somerset.
Roofs Over Our Families (R.O.O.F) will host the event as part of a series of activities for National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week.
Amanda Allen, spokesperson for the Community Action Partnership for Somerset County, said the event will start with each person getting a single cardboard box.
They will be sleeping in that [Box] overnight,” she said. “We also have a soup kitchen that will be set up that night as well, so any participants will be going through a soup kitchen simulation, so they’ll have to walk through, get their food, and after an hour get kicked out and go back to their box.”
Sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, and extra clothes are permitted but participants cannot order food, and will not be allowed to bring computers, iPhones, or anything similar.
This is the first time Somerset County has held an event like this, and Allen said the community reaction has been positive.
“We’ve had an overwhelming response,” Allen said. “We’ve had youth groups, some volunteers, some agency members, staff, and also some of the schools have also brought some of their students into this as well.”
R.O.O.F. will host the overnight stay even in inclement weather as a reality check.
Allen expects this simulation to be an eye-opening experience.
“The homeless individuals that are staying outside, that are unsheltered, are dealing with extreme issues,” she said. “A lot of time, you know, they’re battling other things—not only the weather, not only the environment, but they don’t have the resources.”