Friday, September 01, 2017

Mobile Home Park Tenants Struggle With Homelessness After Being Rented Condemned Trailers, Then Getting Booted By Local Code Enforcement Without Notice Soon After Moving In

In Tucson, Arizona, the Arizona Daily Star reports:
  • Seeking the desert climate, Donna and Derek Wilson moved their five children from southeast Texas to Tucson this summer.

    The dilapidated mobile home they rented at 110 E. Prince Road needed serious work, the couple admits. But it was walking distance to public schools and it seemed to have the makings of a home.

    “I cringed a little bit, but I was happy we had our own place,” Donna Wilson said. “We were gonna fix it up.”

    They quickly realized the trailer’s problems were more than cosmetic when monsoon rains streamed through leaks in the roof throughout July.

    Now the family is fighting to avoid homelessness, after city code enforcement on July 31 informed them and two other families that their rented trailers had been condemned as uninhabitable — months before they moved in.

    The three families were forced to vacate their homes by the end of the day. Two other tenants whose trailers were condemned during the July 31 code inspection also had to leave immediately.
    Since they were displaced, the Wilsons have stayed in four different hotels as they scramble to find a permanent place to stay. For more than two weeks, the seven-member family, plus a scrawny kitten named Spooky, was crammed into a single room at the Travel Inn motel on South Freeway Road, rotating who had to sleep on the floor.

    “I hate to see anyone else go through this,” Wilson said. “We have no money right now. I’m scared. ”
    Prince Road Park has been on code enforcement’s radar, especially after faulty electrical wiring caused a trailer fire a few years ago, said Martin Romero, supervisor with the city’s code enforcement department. A call from police investigating criminal activity at the property prompted the July 31 code inspection, he said.

    Problems in the condemned trailers included hazardous wiring, broken toilets falling through the floor, roaches, broken cooling systems and roof leaks, Romero said.

    “The property owners should be aware of the type of units they are renting out,” he said. “We expect the property owners to be in compliance with all of our city codes.”
    [The out-of-state landlord] blames one of the park’s tenants for renting out the condemned trailers without his knowledge.

    “Whoever that woman is, she rented those out on her own,” he said. “I don’t even know how she got the keys. She was not the manager.”

    On a recent afternoon at Prince Road Park, that woman, Elizabeth Keith, said she was the latest in a series of tenants who were acting as the park’s property manager, with Kroepel’s consent.

    She maintains that Kroepel asked her to be his “point of contact” and to get more tenants moved into the vacant, money-draining trailers. She said Kroepel refused to pay for any repairs and she did not know which trailers were condemned.

    He “refuses to do anything for his tenants and refuses to do anything for his managers,” Keith said.

    Kroepel said he was unaware so many trailers had been condemned at his property, which was featured in a December Star article on dangerous conditions in Tucson’s trailer parks.