PHOENIX — More than three hundred Valley residents are on the verge of being displaced from their homes.
Three mobile home parks in Phoenix are closing and getting redeveloped and the residents who live there fear they are on the verge of homelessness.
A Phoenix city council committee passed recommendations Monday night to go before the full city council that, if passed, would initiate a zoning overlay on the three mobile home parks and institute an 18-month moratorium on all development at the three parks.
Few residents have anywhere else to go when displaced
“29 years,” said Gerald Suter. “It's a nice community. Everybody knows everybody, everybody waves.”
Air Force veteran Gerald Suter owns his mobile home at the Periwinkle Mobile Home Park near 27th Avenue and Colter. However, after nearly three decades years, he’s being forced to leave.
“It is greed,” Suter said.
It’s owned by Grand Canyon University and the mobile home park is being redeveloped into an expanded campus.
GCU purchased the land about seven years ago. To ease the burden, GCU didn’t raise rent since the purchase. It has offered tenants money, household goods and early departure bonuses.
Residents say they have nowhere to go.
“By June, I'll be dead laying on the street like a piece of trash,” Suter said.
It’s not just Periwinkle.
“Go live somewhere in apartment and pay $1,800? I couldn't do it. There's no way,” said Carmen Pietro, a resident at Weldon Court.
Las Casitas near 19th Avenue and Buckeye and Weldon Court near 16th Street and Osborn are also closing.
“Everybody's panicking. Everybody keeps on knocking on my door asking, ‘Have you heard anything?’” Pietro said.
Average Phoenix apartments are three to four times more expensive than residents' current payments
Most residents own their mobile homes and pay around $500 a month to rent the land they are parked on.
According to a recent report by the Maricopa Association of Governments, most apartments available in the Phoenix area are between $1,500 and $2,000 a month.
“I only get $1,400,” Suter said.
For months, Phoenix council members and a team of experts have been looking into the problem and trying to find solutions. They discussed their findings Monday night during a special meeting.
“Is there another price point similar to this that’s not another trailer park where folks can go?” asked councilmember Carlos Garcia.
“The short answer is no,” said Michael Trailor of Trellis, a company contracted by GCU to assist the residents of Periwinkle in their relocation process.
Few mobile home residents have found a new place to live
Of the 46 households at Periwinkle, nine have found stable housing. At Las Casitas, of the 34 homes, eight are stabilized. At Weldon Court, where residents have to be out by April 1st, of 43 homes, zero have a place to go.
Lawyers are working with the mobile homeowners. At Weldon Court, lawyers are planning to meet with residents Tuesday night and are in the process of negotiating with the property owner to extend the move-out deadline.
What about moving the mobile homes?
The state has a relocation fund created for mobile home closures and will offer mobile homeowners between $7,500 and $12,500 to help move their home to a new park. The problem many residents and housing experts point out is it often costs far more than that to move, some homes are too old to move, and space in parks is hard to find.
If an owner elects to abandon their mobile home, they qualify for somewhere between $1,875 and $3,125.
The clock is ticking.
By the end of May, residents of all three parks have to be out.
Fearful of ending up homeless, residents hope the full city council will approve the measures discussed Monday night to buy them more time and prevent the redevelopment.
Legislation in the works to help mobile homeowners
There is a bill before the legislature, HB2381, that would increase the amount mobile homeowners could receive from the relocation fund in the future. It has passed the House and is transmitted to the Senate and will be heard Wednesday at 9 a.m.
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