Friday, March 10, 2017

Town Buys Tax-Delinquent Mobile Home Park Out From Under 16 Lot-Leasing Homeowners, Then Flips Premises To Private Company While Giving The Mostly Poverty-Level Residents The Boot; Aging Structures Make Physical Relocation Costly, Prohibitive

In Hampton, South Carolina, The Hampton County Guardian reports:
  • In a society where the procurement of money often trumps compassion and empathy, it may not come as a surprise that a group of 16 Hampton homeowners will be forced out of their homes due to a legitimate land purchase by the Town of Hampton.

    According to Hampton Mayor John Rhoden, the town obtained the deed to the L & L property, in Hampton, in December of 2016 through the Forfeited Land Commission. The property was purchased by the town during a delinquent tax sale for $16,928. According to several L & L residents, a plan to come together as a group and purchase the land was thwarted after the interested L & L homeowners were informed the land was no longer available for purchase around a year ago by officials handling the sale of the property.

    During recent town council meetings, council members have discussed the plight of the homeowners and voted to give the residents of the property an additional 30 days, in addition to the legally required 30 days, to vacate the property.
    When asked whether or not the town could or would assist the residents with their relocation, Mayor John Rhoden stated, “There has got to be an agency out there somewhere that can help them.” [...] Although he is empathetic to the unfortunate situation the residents have been placed, the sale of the property is strictly “business” and will end up being a positive project for the town, both financially and esthetically.

    Rhoden stated the L & L property has been an “eyesore” to nearby residents for many years and that “it’s an area that needs to be cleaned up.” He added that there have been more than 80 police calls in that area over the past three years.

    “We weren’t getting any taxes off of it,” Rhoden added.

    Residents of L & L acknowledge Hampton was not required to give them an additional 30 days to vacate the property, but wish the town would acknowledge a majority of the homeowners live at or below the poverty level and cannot afford to move their trailers, especially under what they see as extremely short notice.

    “I think that we should have been given at least six months to have them moved,” said resident Albert Housey. “I understand that a year might be unreasonable, but I think that the town should have given us at least six months to leave.”

    “They could have at least given us until tax time to leave,” said Natasha Thomas. “Most of us depend on our tax refund check to purchase big ticket items anyway and it is going to cost over $3,500 to move the trailer I paid $1,800 for a year ago.”

    The residents have been put in a difficult situation by the sale of the land. Several of the residents, including Thomas, spent their entire life savings to purchase their homes. Several L & L homeowners say the trailers might not seem valuable to some individuals, but to these homeowners, however, the homes meant freedom and hope for the future. For many, their dreams of independence will soon be toppled, just like their homes, when town-funded land clearing operations begin in the near future.

    Many stated they feel hopeless they have paid for their homes and have paid the taxes on the homes, but will now be forced to, in many cases, leave it all behind and take a loss on their purchases.

    “I was looking forward to being able to raise my [multiple] grandchildren right next door,” said Thomas. “We are more than just a trailer park. We are more than a community. We are a family.”
For more, see L & L residents seek compassion, new homes (16 homeowners and their children will be forced to leave their homes in the coming weeks if they cannot legally or monetarily afford to move their mobile homes to a new location).

See also:

Hampton reaches out to L & L residents:
  • The Town of Hampton obtained the property, which was home to 16 households, for $16,928 from the Forfeited Land Commission during a December delinquent tax sale. The town then turned around and sold the property to a potential industry to be used to generate solar power. The residents there were then given a legally required 30 days to relocate.
Mobile home park residents in Hampton Co. could end up homeless after sale:
  • “The only option for me right now is I have to start all over. Trying to get a mobile home, it’s like paying money. You're going to have to have rent, lights, water, food. It’s like starting all over," [one homeowner] said.
    One reason residents are having problems moving their mobile home is that in order to get a permit at a new lot, the home can not be more than 10 years old. Most of the mobile homes in question were built in the 80s..

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