Sunday, September 11, 2016

Over 300 Residents In Virginia Trailer Park To Get The Boot Over Failed Water & Sewer System, Forcing Lot-Leasing Homeowners To Walk Away From Their 'Piece Of The American Dream'; City: Despite Uncorrected Health Code Violations, No Immediate Shutdown Forthcoming - Everyone Gets Six Months Notice To Relocate

In Manassas, Virginia, reports:
  • Manassas City officials agreed to pay $1.9 million for a property that is now home to a trailer park with a failed water and sewer system.

    The water and sewer system at the East End Mobile Home Park, located 9021 and 9021A Centreville Road failed. The current owner of the property did not make the needed repairs to the water and sewer system and agreed to sell the property to the city.

    More than 300 people who make up the families who live in the 58 trailers at the park will lose their homes. Notices posted today on doors at the trailer park by the current property owner East End Mobile Home Park, LLC give the residents six months to vacate their trailers.
    The trailer park is home to multiple Hispanic families who came to speak about the issue at the Aug. 22 Manassas City Council meeting. With the help of an English-speaking 10-year-old boy, residents told City Council members they were scared and confused about what was going to happen to their homes, and that they had not been given any information about the sale from the trailer park owner.

    Residents of the trailer park had been represented by Maryland-based CASA, an organization tasked with “improving the quality of life in low-income immigrant communities,” according to its website. Organization spokeswoman Fernanda Durand on Thursday, Aug. 25 told that the organization, nor the residents of the trailer park wish to speak to the press.

    In an about-face, the organization held a late-afternoon news conference at the trailer park on Monday. learned of the press conference only moments before it was to begin and was not able to attend.

    The water and sewer issues at the East End Trailer Park date back to 2008.

    “The sewer system is failing, and has failed, the property owner was told to fix the system for years and did not,” said Manassas City Economic Development Director Patrick Small.

    City officials retain the authority to go to the trailer park and close it immediately due to health code violations, but will not.

    “If the city went in and shut down the trailer park and enforced the laws and ordinances we have on the books, it would immediately displace 60 families,” said Small. “What is important now is that we have an orderly transition of residents moving our and finding new homes rather than turning the water sewer off.”

    At the August 22 Manassas City Council meeting, a representative from CASA told residents were working with the city to receive up to $1,200 of financial assistance per family, for each displaced family. That claim was incorrect, said Small, because there is, to date, no city assistance fund for displaced families.

    Once the families move away [...], the trailers will be removed, and the city will clean up the failed water and sewer system. Afterward, the city may choose to develop the properly or sell the land.

    Currently, the failed sewer system collects hundreds of thousands of gallons of rainwater each time it rains. That water is then mixed with sewage and then sent to the Upper Occoquan Service Authority for treatment.

    “Instead of sending only sewage, were also sending stormwater and that can overwhelm the system,” added Small.
Source: Manassas to pay $1.9 million for failed trailer park, families displaced.

See also, The Washington Post: Nowhere to go: Manassas trailer park residents face eviction:
  • [R]esidents said there are no other mobile home parks in the area that will accept their older-model trailers. They also said they lack the thousands of dollars it would take to move the structures elsewhere.
    [Housing advocate] Fernanda Durand said it will be difficult for people who live at the park to find a new site for their mobile homes or an affordable apartment in increasingly expensive Prince William County.

    “Mobile homes are an inexpensive alternative for people living paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “The little money these people have managed to save will be wiped out in one fell swoop. . . The city really needs to do something to help housing for low-income people.”

    Alejandra Tovar, a restaurant worker, said she has sought answers from the city and the property manager, to no avail.

    “I’m worried that I’ve invested a lot of money in my home, all my savings,” she said of the mobile home where she has lived for the past two years. “The owners, the city are taking no responsibility.”

    She and other residents said they want the city to fix the sewer lines and allow the mobile trailers to remain.

    Mike Watson, who has lived at the park for almost 14 years, said he owes $25,000 on his mobile home. He estimated that it would cost him about $20,000 to move the trailer, if he could find a place to put it.
See also, WUSA-TV Channel 9: Va. families struggle to save homes: ‘We're losing our piece of the American Dream':
  • Scores of families in Manassas are struggling to save their homes.

    The company that owns the land under their mobile homes is selling out to the city for nearly $2 million. But many of the families are likely to lose all the money they've spent buying their trailers at the East End Mobile Home Park.
    To move a double wide trailer, you'd have to cut it in half, remove water, sewer and electrical hook-ups, and then haul it down the road. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars, if it's structurally sound and you can find a place to put it.

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