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Its like a bomb hit us

Mobile home park residents search for answers as they look for other places to live
by: Jaime Valdez, Carolyn Boulden, left, and her friend Sharon Miller, both residents of Beaverton Mobilodge, try to figure out paperwork that was distributed at a tenant relocation fair held Monday night at Meadow Park Middle School. ”I don’t understand any of it,” said Boulden. “I got to find a place by February.”

When Barbara Hart heard that the mobile park where she has lived for the last 3½ years was closing, she was devastated.

'It's like a bomb hit us,' said Hart.

For Hart and her daughter, Catherine, who lives with her, it's going to be hard or impossible to find a place to match what they've been paying in rent.

'We can't find a place for $400,' said Hart. 'We've looked for some in that price range and there's just nothing open.'

Hart was one of at least 150 residents of three mobile home parks who attended a tenant relocation fair at Meadow Park Middle School Monday, hoping to find answers to where they'll be living at this time next year.

Earlier this month, 218 residents who live in Beaverton Mobilodge, Nut Tree Estates or Young's Mobile Estates were told they would need to move out by Aug. 4, 2007, to make room for new commercial and residential development that will include town homes, condos and single-family homes.

Monday's fair was a chance for 10 organizations - everyone from Oregon Department of Housing and Community Development to manufactured housing moving companies - to dispense information about what comes next.

Like many of the parks' residents, Hart says she has no choice when it comes to whether or not to take an early termination payment of $5,250.

'We have to,' she said. 'We have to leave our trailer. It's too old to move.'

By her estimates, it could cost around $8,000 to move her home.

Ruining lives

Alisa Pyszka, a design planning project manager for WRG Design, Inc., the company that's working with property owners Sawara Property Group on the relocation information, said residents seem to have two questions: 'What are our options and how does the termination agreement work?'

Residents who move by Feb. 17, will receive $5,250 from the developer, an amount that manufactured home advocates say is one of the most generous they have heard of. Also, Rep. Jerry Krummel, a Wilsonville Republican, helped pass a bill last year that allows those forced to move from mobile parks a tax credit.

Dawn Phillips, Krummel's chief of staff, who was at the Monday meeting, said everyone she talked to qualified for the refundable tax credit.

Still, that was little consolation for many who attended the event.

Steve Madore, a Nut Tree Estates tenant, dismissed the relocation fair as 'people just putting on a face to make things look good.'

'I'm tired of development ruining people's lives,' he said.

For Madore and his wife, news that they will have to vacate their home is a case of déjà vu.

About a year ago, he was given notice he would have to leave his Murrayhill Woods apartment because the owners were turning them into condos.

'About four months ago we moved into these places with the thought it was going to (stay) open,' said Madore, who at 27 is one of the younger mobile park dwellers.

What he'd like to know is when did the current owners know when they were going to shut the park down.

'I want to know the truth. I want to know when they knew,' said Madore, who has put between $2,500 and $3,000 in improvements to the home. He owes about $5,000 on his residence, which has a lien on it.

He too, says he plans on taking the early termination package.

Madore's neighbor, Sam Salazar, said he knows it will be tough finding a place where he can move with his wife and five children.

Having purchased his 1974 mobile home from the original owner in January, Salazar, 31, thought he'd be set for at least four years.

He, like many residents in all three parks has a home older than 1980, which makes it ineligible to move into most local mobile home parks.

'I don't have money to spend to move out,' said Salazar, 31.

Storage space

Like Madore, Judie Freeman, a resident of Beaverton Mobilodge, recently made improvements to her home, installing a new roof two months ago with the help of a $3,200 Harde Community Development Grant from Washington County.

Also helping Freeman out over the years has been Washington County Rebuilding Together, a non-profit organization that provides labor and materials for elderly, low-income disabled residents and others.

She estimates that anywhere from 20 to 30 people in the park have been aided by the organization, which gave her $3,500 in new windows.

Now she wants to find storage space so that she and other tenants can return such items they can no longer use and most likely will be carted away.

'The idea is this is brand new stuff,' she said. 'Let's help other people.'

The agency can be reached by calling 503-644-4544.

Freeman said she'll do OK and is more concerned about helping out those who couldn't come to the fair, especially the disabled elderly.

Freeman's neighbor, Martha Price, has lived at the park for the last 15 years and plans to leave at the end of the month to live in a one-bedroom apartment.

'It's going to cost me about $200 more a month to live there,' said Price.

Good luck

For Roy Krause, a 65-year-old veteran who received a serious leg injury in Vietnam, the notice to move out couldn't have come at a more inopportune time.

'The same day I came out of surgery. I got the notice,' said Krause, who is diabetic and has asthma. 'I thought I'd bought my retirement home.'

However, Krause has found a place to live - a 20-unit mobile park in Hillsboro where he plans to move as soon as possible. The only problem is his new lot is 10 feet shorter on each side than his current piece of property.

Meanwhile on Tuesday as tenant Hart prepared to attend other booths at the relocation fair, she had a parting comment.

'I hope everyone has good luck,' she said.