Old mobile home parks being demolished leave tenants with few options for low-income residents

PHOENIX (AP) — Alondra Ruiz Vazquez and her husband were comfortable in Periwinkle Mobile Home Park for a decade, feeling lucky to own their mobile home and pay about $450 a month for their lot in a city with spiraling rents.

They and dozens more families now have until the 28th of May to leave this Phoenix park that Grand Canyon University, located nearby, purchased seven years earlier to build student housing. This spring, two more mobile home communities will be cleared to make way for new developments.

“I’m here, well, because I have nowhere to go,” said Isabel Ramos, who lives at Periwinkle with her 11-year-old daughter. “I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Advocates are concerned about the demolition of mobile home parks in the United States. They say that by razing them, they will permanently remove some of the limited housing available to the poorest. They warn that residents may be forced to live with their relatives or in cars due to the increase in evictions.

“Mobile homes are a much bigger part of our affordable housing stock than people know,” said Mark Stapp, who directs Arizona State University’s master’s degree program in real estate development. “Once it’s gone, a lot of people will have no place to go.”

The National Low Income Housing Coalition conducted a survey that revealed a U.S. wide trend. shortage of 7.3 million affordable rental Renters who earn less than $28,850 per year can rent a home in Arizona.

Industry groups estimate that over 20 million people in the United States live in mobile home parks.

“We are in the deepest affordable housing crisis we’ve ever experienced,” said Joanna Carr, acting head of the Arizona Housing Coalition. “Housing for many people is getting completely out of reach. It’s very dire.”

Ken Anderson, President of the Manufactured House Industry of Arizona said that bringing an older park up to current standards can be expensive for owners. This requires replacing electrical and sewer infrastructure with newer homes.

At least six such communities have been torn down in Arizona in the last 18 months, he said, adding that Grand Canyon University “bent over backwards” to help residents more than other park owners.

“A lot of these parks are 70 years old,” said Anderson, noting an uptick in demolitions of older communities for redevelopment. “It’s going to be a big problem down the line.”

There are limits to the efforts being made to revitalize older mobile homes. The majority of mobile homes are not truly mobile and can be costly to move. Most older homes are too old to be moved.

Recently, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a new initiative. $225 million in grants To governments, tribes and non-profits to preserve mobile home, but the money cannot be used for anything else. replace, not repair The older park homes are usually built before 1976.

Vermont in early 2018 announced A mobile home improvement programme will be funded with $4 million of federal money. It is designed to help park owners prepare abandoned or vacant lots for new homes, as well as help mobile home homeowners install new foundations.

In Riverdale (Utah), the last 50 families of Lesley’s Mobile Home Park will have to move out by the end May in order for new apartments and townhouses to be built.

“The state laws don’t protect us,” said Jason Williams, who sold his mobile home for half what he asked for and will now live in a motorhome.

Some of the old parks were not originally intended to be permanent housing.

Florida City Campsite & RV Camp was constructed decades ago to accommodate vacationers heading to the Florida Keys and Everglades.

The dilapidated park was eventually home to retired people on fixed incomes, and young families receiving government assistance. Florida City, Miami-Dade County’s southernmost municipality, sold it to a new development two years back.

The older parks can be a nuisance to cities, as they do not pay property taxes. The condition of rundown parks can devalue nearby properties, even though the value of the land on which the mobile homes are located has risen exponentially.

Grand Canyon University is located in Phoenix said in a statement it “waited as long as it could” to build new student housing after buying Periwinkle in 2016. ”Now, with the need to expand, the University has raised funds to provide multiple layers of assistance to tenants at Periwinkle.”

The university stated that initially it gave residents six months notice to leave and then extended this to thirteen months. The university provided free rent for the five first months of this calendar year, as well early departure compensation, relocation aid and some household items.

Most park residents are Spanish speakers who work as restaurant or landscapers for minimum wage. Social Security also supports retirees.

“We haven’t found anything under $1,800. That’s way above what we can afford,” Ruiz Vazquez said of apartment rents. She said the couple’s mobile home is too old to move and must be abandoned.

“It’s really taken a toll on our health, mental state of mind.”

Maricopa County is home to Phoenix. housing shortfall of more than 74,000 units. Zillow.com is currently listing the median monthly rental price For all types of property and bedrooms in Phoenix, the price is $2,095.

In the last few months, more than 20 families have left Periwinkle. They left behind weed-strewn plots. The remains of several mobile homes, including rotting wooden steps and rusting hulks, were left.

Residents wanted a further 18-month eviction ban or zoning changes to prevent their departure for good.

Phoenix City Council decided this spring to allow the eviction to proceed but put aside $2.5 million in federal funds Helping residents of mobile home parks who may be evicted in the future.

Mike Trailor, CEO of Trellis and former Arizona Department of Housing Director, says the organization works with the university to find apartments for Periwinkle’s families, as well as to arrange the moving of mobile homes.

Still, Phoenix activist Salvador Reza said most families face uncertain futures.

“Some of them might move in with another family, with an uncle or aunt,” said Reza. “Some might go out into the streets and become part of the homeless.”

A new law in Arizona Recently, the state increased its funds to owners who are forced to relocate their mobile homes due to redevelopment. The amount is now $12,500 for single-section housing and $20,000 for multi-section.

For those who have to abandon their homes due to precarious conditions, they can get up $8,000 for multi-sections and $5,000 for single-sections.

Periwinkle resident Graciela Beltran said it’s not enough.

“They want my house?” she asked, her voice cracking. “Give me a house that is equal to mine. I am not asking for anything more.”


This version corrects a mistake that was made by previous versions. The nonprofit Trellis, which works with Periwinkle University to help residents of Periwinkle, did not receive any funds from the $2.5 Million General Fund established by Periwinkle.

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