Northwest NEWS

March 8, 1999

Editorial

Future of mobile home park is uncertain

   We desperately need your help! The owners of the mobile home park we live in have decided to close our park. Many of us are low-income and/or elderly families, and we do not have the resources to move elsewhere. We have been working with a non-profit organization to save the park by purchasing it, but our efforts have been thwarted by the owner's refusal to sell.

   They informed us that he was considering selling the park last summer. In mid-August, after we had formed a homeowners' association and begun to investigate our financial options and legal rights, he issued a closure notice giving the 25 families living here 12 months to move out.

   We are finding that moving out is not an easy thing to do, primarily due to a lack of vacant spots in local mobile home parks. The closest spots some residents have found are in Smokey Point and Auburn. Even if they find a spot, they are not home free. Many mobile home parks refuse to accept mobile homes that are over 10 years old. Many of the homes in Depot Village Mobile Home Park were moved in over 17 years ago. Some are still occupied by their original owners.

   Finding a park that will take such a home may be nigh well impossible. For others, moving out of the area is simply not an option. Some have jobs in the Duvall area, and some elderly residents have children who live in Duvall, which prompted them to move here in the first place. Others who have considered trading in their mobile home or selling it for whatever they can get, find that they will receive much less than the market value, often much less than the amount of their mortgage. For some, the only option now is to walk away from their homes and declare bankruptcy.

   Many of us are particularly incensed that the owners have refused what we consider to be a reasonable offer. They are asking $1,400,000 for the property. Two non-profit organizations that specialize in rescuing mobile home parks believe it is worth between $750,000 and $1,000,000. Taking their best shot at saving the park, the Low-Income Housing Institute offered the full $1,000,000 to the owners, who rejected the offer immediately.

   Some of us felt quite secure when we moved into Depot Village, as the City of Duvall had zoned it as a mobile home park. What could go wrong if the park was zoned as a mobile home park? Unfortunately, during a comprehensive land use plan update, the City of Duvall re-zoned the land to a mixed commercial/residential use.

   The personal stories of tragedy abound. One elderly woman suffers from a heart condition and worries daily about how she and her husband will find a place to live other than the streets. Another elderly woman had carefully planned her retirement and felt secure that she had made the right choices. Her future is now uncertain. An elderly man was quite surprised when he received the closure notice two weeks after moving into the park. A young couple, with one small child, and another on the way, doesn't know what they will do next.

   Who can help us? As Duvall grows bigger and bigger, with so many luxurious homes being built, how will the low-income people who have lived here for years find affordable housing? Does anyone care? We hope that you do, and that you will help us find a way to save our homes.

Dennis Hanson, vice president, The Village Homeowners Association