"Tent Man" gaining a lot of attention by the toll road
St. Joseph County, IN - A tent popped up near the Toll Road off Juniper road four weeks ago. Neighbors weren't really sure what to think. Was it a student project? A protester? or a homeless man?
The tent was just the beginning. It started with a port-a-potty, then came the tent, followed by a couple chairs and a table, the latest addition was a fire pit.
Neighbors were starting to wonder if the person was going to stay a while. After complaints to the St. Joseph Sheriff's Office and the Indiana Health Department we decided to get answers.
Turned out, "tent man" is a 26-year-old named John, he didn't want to share his last name and was hesitant to go on TV.
"I went to move into an apartment and it wasn't ready on time and I had no place to go," he said. "It kinda sucks just because it is really boring. There isn't much to do out here and I try to stay busy and I'm out looking for work."
The land he has set up a tent on belongs to his step-father, therefore no laws are being broken. The sheriff's office said they have been called there at least three times but there is nothing that they can do.
A neighbor also called the health department but John wasn't there when they came by, they left a card inside his tent.
"I don't want to be out here and you know the neighborhood doesn't want me out here. I wouldn't want me out here, it looks bad you know."
The tent is set up below the toll road and off Juniper. There are a lot of cars that drive through the area.
"I don't like how people go by and stare at me and they look at me like I'm homeless, or like this is something I did to myself, it's just bad luck," John added.
Not everyone is upset, some neighbors I spoke with said they have actually found it entertaining--actually starting their own monologue to what is going on. They said they came up with a conclusion that he was having trouble with his wife and was literally sent out to the dog house.
The guess was close, John is separated from his girlfriend. He is the father of a 5-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter. He is an Ivy Tech grad who studied video and film. He didn't go into detail into how he ended up living out of a tent and wouldn't say why he wasn't staying with family members.
He is working right now doing lawn care. When I met John Thursday evening he was walking down the street back to his tent with diapers in his hands, those diapers are for his daughter. Even with little money to his name he still finds it important to care for her.
"Times are hard, right now people are going through tough times," DeAndre Davidson who lives nearby said. "If he feels pretty comfortable, ah, leave him alone," he added.
John said he hopes to be able to pack up and move within the next two weeks right now he is just focused on getting a job.
"Anyone that has work available to me I'd really appreciate having a full steady job, whatever it is, whatever the hours, I'll do whatever is expected and required of me."