Archive

Posts Tagged ‘East End Mobile Home Park’

Rollercoaster Ride may be Ending for Manufactured Home Community?

April 21st, 2017 Comments off
residentsofeastendappearat-manassasmeetingcreditpotomaclocal-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

East End Residents attend a Manassas city meeting. Credit: Potomac Local.

A long, and often confusing rollercoaster ride for residents at the East End Mobile Home Park in Manassas, Virginia may be coming to an end.

But, as has been the case for the community, it won’t come without clearing a few hurdles.

Per InsideNova, James Turner, an Alexandria lawyer and the owner of two other manufactured home communities, has stepped up to the plate with an offer to purchase the trouble community.

I’ve reached a tentative agreement with East End’s owner to buy the property, repair its malfunctioning sewer system, and manage it along with my other parks, [sic]” said Turner.

As the Daily Business News has covered, the city of Manassas was set to purchase the community for $1.86 million from a trust controlled by Helen Loretta Clarke, who residents claim neglected the community’s sewage system to the point that unless residents took action themselves, sewage came up into their yards.

For Turner, who admits he’s been watching “the circus” from the sidelines, sees purchasing the community as a huge plus.

I look at this as an investment for my retirement days. I’m hoping to clean it up and make it a much nicer place to live,” said Turner.

jamesturnercreditVTWLaw-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

James Turner. Credit: VTW Law firm.

After one of the residents of my Alexandria properties urged me to look into it, I decided to call the seller and see what’s going on.”

Even with the positive momentum, Turner will still have some hurdles.

First, the city will need to step back from its plan to purchase the property, and that would be contingent on whether or not the buyer would be able to afford to repair the sewer system, which could cost up to $1.5 million on top of the sale price.

Turner says this isn’t an issue.

I wouldn’t invest a million dollars in this unless I knew for sure I could do it,” said Turner.

I’m ready to buy this and get started, and start spending money with the anticipation that the city will let me buy it.”

ResidentsHopeforMoreTimetoVacateMHCcreditNBC4-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Credit: NBC 4.

Turner has also offered to bring in workers to begin the initial clean up on the property as an act of good faith, to demonstrate he’s serious.

The other challenge is around the city’s discussions with Catholics for Housing, a Dumfries, Virginia-based nonprofit.

Jonathan Francis, the pro bono attorney representing the community’s residents, says the non-profit had managed to earn the trust of his clients by supporting several key provisions in the negotiations.

The charity was willing to offer long-term leases so residents could feel secure that a sudden sale of the property wouldn’t force them out of their homes. Keeping rents at a reasonable rate is another important consideration, since many residents only pay about $400 per month right now and couldn’t afford to pay much more,” said Francis.

Without similar assurances from Turner, I don’t know how comfortable people on the park [sic] might be even staying on the property.”

For Vice Mayor Marc Aveni, a leading opposition voice on the city purchasing the community, says that while he hasn’t spoken with Turner directly, if he’s sincere, it’s good to have him involved.

If he cleans up the park [sic] and gives the residents an affordable place to stay that’s a win to me,” said Aveni.

From my standpoint, having multiple people interested is probably a good thing. We get to pick and choose.”

Also in play is a pending litigation, in which 49 of the 58 families living at East End are pursuing “tenant’s assertions” against Clarke and her representatives.

Tenant’s assertions are a legal action that lets the residents pay their rent into an escrow account controlled by the Prince William County District Court while a judge evaluates whether the community’s owners are responsible for its poor condition.

Francis says his clients feel comfortable ending that case if Catholics for Housing purchases the community, but he’s not sure what they may do if Turner buys it instead.

Part of any deal is looking to get some sort of agreement from the residents that they won’t be pursuing action against the seller, and there hasn’t been a meeting between the residents and Mr. Turner to discuss that yet,” said Francis.

Helen Sorto, who has been working with East End residents to stay in their homes, agrees with Francis.

Some are already preparing to leave, particularly because Turner could raise rents to the point where the park’s low-income residents simply can’t afford to stay,” says Sorto.

eastend2creditinsidenova-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

A home at East End Mobile Home Park. Credit: Inside Nova.

With the improvements to the quality of the community, Turner says that rents may go up by $100 or $150 per month, but points out the property’s rate would remain below what he charges in his other communities, or rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the city.

I expect that the repairs I’m planning will improve the value of the trailers [sic] on the park [sic], making it a better investment for residents,” said Turner.

This is an investment on my part, so there may be some rental increases, and the tenants are aware of it. It has to work for them and has to work for me, and I think we’ve had a meeting of the minds.”

For more on the saga at the East End Mobile Home Park, click here. ##

 

(Image credits are as shown above, and when provided by third parties, are shared under fair use guidelines.)

 

rcwilliams-writer75x75manufacturedhousingindustrymhpronews

RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

Update: Manufactured Home Community Eviction

March 28th, 2017 Comments off
eastend2creditinsidenova-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

A home at East End Mobile Home Park. Credit: Inside Nova.

In an update to a story the Daily Business News has covered over the last few months, residents at the East End Mobile Home Park in Manassas, Virginia, have been given a reprieve from eviction, which was due to take place at the end of the month.

According to Inside Nova, families in the community will now get to stay in their homes until at least mid-June, giving a nonprofit who has an interest in buying the property more time to structure a deal with its owner.

The city is currently set to purchase East End for $1.86 million from a trust controlled by Helen Loretta Clarke, who residents claim has neglected the community’s sewage system to the point that unless residents took action themselves, sewage came up into their yards.

After the residents received a reprieve in early February to hold off the evictions, Jon Francis, the attorney representing the residents, was scheduled to square off with Clarke’s attorneys in court on March 24 in a hearing to determine if Clarke is responsible for the property’s condition.

Both sides asked for a delay of that proceeding, and retired District Court Judge Peter Steketee granted that request.

We’ve managed to hammer out the framework of a settlement agreement with the owner’s attorneys,said Francis.

On June 16th, we’ll reconvene for a status hearing on the case.”

residentsofeastendappearat-manassasmeetingcreditpotomaclocal-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

East End Residents attend a Manassas city meeting. Credit: Potomac Local.

What Francis and many residents are hoping for is a lifeline in the timeframe from Catholics for Housing, a Dumfries nonprofit.

The organization is working to reach a formal agreement to buy the property with Clarke and her trustee, Timothy Cope.

The nonprofit submitted a bid on the community earlier this month, and if it can hammer out a deal with Cope, they can ask the Manassas City Council to take a vote on backing away from the sale.

City officials have stressed that anyone interested in buying East End will need to have the funds to repair the park sewer system. That process alone could cost up to $1.5 million.

Catholics for Housing could get financial assistance on that front through the legal process,” said Francis.

While nothing is final yet, part of the settlement with the property owner’s attorneys could include an agreement to send some of the money held in escrow to Catholics for Housing to assist with repairs to the park [sic].”

It would be up to the judge, but it also depends on whether they want that money or not,” said Francis.

Catholics for Housing has not commented on their interest level in the community so far, outside of a letter to the city council earlier this month reiterating that it’s still investigating the situation.

The Daily Business News will continue to follow this story and provide updates. ##

 

(Image credits are as shown above.)

 

rcwilliams-writer75x75manufacturedhousingindustrymhpronews

RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

Residents Hope for More Time to Vacate MHC

February 7th, 2017 Comments off
ResidentsHopeforMoreTimetoVacateMHCcreditNBC4-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

The East End Mobile Home Park. Credit: NBC 4.

For residents of the East End Mobile Home Park in Manassas, Virginia, hopes for an extension on an order to vacate are hanging in the balance.

In a story that the Daily Business News has followed from the beginning, and through resident requests for a lifeline, Manassas city officials have now stepped in and asked the current property owner to allow families that have children to stay in the community until the end of the school year.

In late December, residents went to the city council to ask for help in a saga that has, according to them, been going on for a decade.

Residents claim that the property owner has neglected the community’s sewage system to the point that unless residents take action themselves, sewage comes up into their yards.

In a move that city officials considered the “best of bad options,” the city council voted to buy the property for $1.86 million.

While the option looked like a lifeline, it had a twist: the city said it could not act as a landlord, and therefore the deal could not close until all the residents were out.

ResidentsFacingEvictionAskCityCouncilforLifelineMayorHarryParishIIcreditOfficialPhoto-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Mayor Harry Parish II. Official Photo.

We have a contract and we’ve got to abide by that contract,” said Mayor Harry Parrish II at the time. “There are opportunities for the owner to work with the citizens. And I think that’s where the action should be taken place today.”

At the time, city officials said that the situation was unhealthy for residents and it could not continue.

They did not want to shut off water and sewer service, which would have led everyone to be evicted right away, so the city opted to buy the property and make repairs, as the current owner did not have enough money to cover the expense.

The city said that it now plans to repair the faulty sewer system after residents move out.

While city officials did step in and ask the current owner for an extension, they said that the owner will select a move-out deadline, not the city.

residentsofeastendappearat-manassasmeetingcreditpotomaclocal-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

East End Residents attend a Manassas city meeting. Credit: Potomac Local.

We’re going to be moving them when they’re prepping for these tests, and that’s going to be detrimental to their education,” said resident Melissa Watson.

According to NBC4, the Save Our Homes Alliance, a nonprofit organization, has stepped forward to help residents stay. The Daily Business News will continue to follow this story and provide updates. ##

(Image credits are as shown above.)

rcwilliams-writer75x75manufacturedhousingindustrymhpronews

RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

Residents Facing Eviction Ask City Council for Lifeline

December 26th, 2016 Comments off
residentsofeastendappearat-manassasmeetingcreditpotomaclocal-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

East End Residents attend a Manassas city meeting in October. Credit: Potomac Local.

In a follow up to a story that the Daily Business News originally covered in October, hundreds of residents are now facing imminent eviction from the East End Mobile Home Park in Manassas, Virginia.

And, once again, they are asking the city council to help. But they feel that they are running out of time. The deadline is February 28th.

Residents say their painful saga has been going on for nearly a decade, as the property owner has neglected the community’s sewage system to the point that unless residents take action themselves, sewage comes up into their yards.

According to WJLA, in a move that city officials say they consider the “best of bad options,” the city council voted to buy the property for $1.86 million.

While the option looks good on the surface, it has a twist: the city says it cannot act as a landlord, and therefore the deal can’t close until all the residents are out.

Now residents fear that they will have nowhere to go or won’t be able to afford to move to more expensive housing in the area.

eastend2creditinsidenova-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

A home at East End Mobile Home Park. Credit: Inside Nova.

Believe me, for some other people it may not be much, but for me – and a lot of my neighbors – it’s the whole world,” resident Crescencio Torres told the Manassas city council during the meeting.

City officials say that the current situation is unhealthy for residents and it cannot continue. They say they didn’t want to shut off water and sewer service, which would have led everyone to be evicted right away. Instead, the city opted to buy the property and make repairs, as the current owner does not have enough money to cover the expense.

During the meeting, residents asked the city and the council to pressure the owner to at least extend the deadline for them to be evicted.

While the mayor supports the idea, he says what the city can do is limited.

ResidentsFacingEvictionAskCityCouncilforLifelineMayorHarryParishIIcreditOfficialPhoto-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Mayor Harry Parish II. Official Photo.

We have a contract and we’ve got to abide by that contract,” said Mayor Harry Parrish II. “There are opportunities for the owner to work with the citizens. And I think that’s where the action should be taken place today.

A group of residents wants to postpone the eviction date until August, including Melissa Watson who says that would help minimize the impact on children who must then change schools.

We’re going to be moving them when they’re prepping for these tests, and that’s going to be detrimental to their education,” said Watson.

ResidentsFacingEvictionAskCityCouncilforLifelinecredit-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Randy Grumbine. Credit: LinkedIn.

Residents currently pay $600 or less a month at the community and some say they are finding it difficult to locate other places where they can move their manufactured homes. A representative for the city said the eviction date is not their decision because they do not yet own the property.

It is our hope that the city works with the tenants to find an equitable solution, said Randy Grumbine, Executive Director Virginia Manufactured and Modular Housing Association, told MHProNews. ##

(Image credits are as shown above.)

rcwilliams-writer75x75manufacturedhousingindustrymhpronews

RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

Rewarding Bad Behavior? City Threatens Evictions, MH Residents Push Back

October 27th, 2016 Comments off
eastend2creditinsidenova-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

A home at East End Mobile Home Park. Credit: Inside Nova.

A manufactured home community in Manassas, Virginia is facing a unique set of circumstances.

The city is ready to step in and solve a long running sewage problem at the community by purchasing it.

But only if the residents move off the property.

According to InsideNova, residents of the East End Mobile Home Park have been long subjected to spewing sewage into their yards, lots of promises to resolve the issue and inaction.

I’ve had sewage under my trailer [sic], underneath the porch,” said long time resident Jill Hurdle. “My mom couldn’t come out here and sit because it was worse than living with your face against a skunk’s butt…It’s frightening when you have so much toiletry coming at you. 

Hurdle told InsideNova that she’s been calling the city for years about problems with the sewer system.

But because Manassas doesn’t own the infrastructure, the city hasn’t been able to come in and make the necessary repairs, according to city spokeswoman Patty Prince.

residentsofeastendappearat-manassasmeetingcreditpotomaclocal-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

East End Residents attend a Manassas city meeting. Credit: Potomac Local.

In a review of public documents by InsideNova, the city has been pressuring attorneys representing property owner Helen Loretta Clarke to make the necessary repairs for at least seven years.

In one letter from July 2009, city deputy director of water and sewer Dominic Brancaccio told Clarke’s lawyer that the city discovered “many issues” by doing “smoke testing” on the system. Brancaccio noted that many of the problems in the community were in violation of city code, and threatened, “court action to correct these issues” if Clarke did not provide an action plan to fix them.

According to InsideNova, the two sides corresponded several times over the years, with the city frequently threatening action. But Clarke’s attorneys ultimately claimed that she lacked the funds to repair the sewer system and couldn’t get a loan for the process, leading to an impasse.

eastend1creditinsidenova-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Inside of the East End mobile home park. Credit: Inside Nova.

As Daily Business News readers are aware, delayed actions by some government agencies have caused issues at various places around the country, most recently in San Antonio, which we covered here.

Our system, for better or worse, is vulnerable to dragging things on because the state tries not to tread on people’s property rights,” said Manassas Vice Mayor Jonathan Way.

The City Takes “Action”

The city of Manassas worked out a deal to buy the property for an assessed value of $1.86 million and agreed to offer relocation assistance of up to $2,300 per household via its Department of Social Services.

jonthanwaycreditcityofmanassas-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Jonathan Way. Credit: City of Manassas.

This action may cause unintended consequences.

Vice Mayor Way wishes the city had never waded into the dispute in the first place. He voted against the move to buy the land in April, claiming it “rewarded bad behavior” by the property owner.

I don’t mean to be hard-hearted, but the city didn’t create the situation. The landowner created the situation,” Way said.

The city doesn’t have a legal responsibility to relocate people. We made a gratuitous gesture, it was kind of small, and if that were supposed to cover everything, it would nowhere near be adequate. But the city isn’t trying to cover everything. It’s trying to be a helper, not a bail-outer, and the residents, if they have recourse, it’s against the landowner.

The department is limiting the aid it offers based on each household’s monthly gross income. This is a stipulation that state Sen. Jeremy McPike, (D-29th District) believes will hurt many of the “working families” in the park who make just enough money to miss out on those funds.

jeremymcpikecredittwitter-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Jeremy McPike. Credit: Twitter.

This also is going to potentially wreck their credit scores, so this really is a double whammy; you lose a home, and you take a hit to your credit,” McPike said.

We want to make sure that they explore what these options look like…with the goal of providing some means and mechanism to secure their financial viability without having to declare bankruptcy.

The city of Manassas is concerned for the welfare of its residents,” said city officials in a fact sheet on the matter. “Allowing the property owner time to close the property and providing some assistance to renters is evidence of that concern.

Yorceli Reyes, who recently moved to the community, felt that the plan the city had to buy the property and force 58 families to move was not ideal.

residentaftereceivingnotciecreditcreditwapo-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

East End Resident at meeting. Credit: WAPO.

We plan to move to a home, in six years, five years, but for right now, this is a good place,” Reyes said. “There’s no crime, like in other neighborhoods. It just isn’t fair.

Another Option

Local advocates may provide residents the ability to stay or get additional financial relief.

While Senator McPike told InsideNova that it’s unclear just what form that assistance might take, Lee Carter, a Democrat running to represent the area in the House of Delegates’ 50th District, said he managed to connect the residents with an attorney to help them explore legal options.

jonthanfranciscreditlinkedin-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Jonathan Francis. Credit: LinkedIn.

Jonathan Francis of the Dumfries-based Smith Francis Law Group has agreed to examine the issue free of charge, and is working with people in the park to see who might be interested in his representation on a pro-bono basis.

CASA, a Latino advocacy group, is also working with residents to offer resources and draw attention to the situation.

This includes the possibility of a cooperative to buy the property.

casalogocreditcasa-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

CASA logo. Credit: CASA.

They’d be able to take ownership of where they live, and there’s a certain amount of pride and stability in that,” said Michelle LaRue, senior manager of CASA’s group’s health and human services programs. “And that’s the typical American dream, being able to own a little piece of property for your family.

Francis told InsideNova that if he were retained by any of the residents, he’d pursue action to reduce the rent they’re paying until they have to leave in February or even get some of their rent refunded. However, he said he doesn’t have the expertise to pursue a suit against the property owner or the city, and believes another attorney could step in for that process.

Thomas Simeone, an attorney specializing in personal injury and civil rights cases with the Washington, D.C.-based firm Simeone & Miller LLP, also believes that the residents may have a case to stay on Constitutional grounds.

thomassimeonecreditfirst-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Thomas Simeone. Credit: First.

You could argue that ‘the government is trying to use a private party to avoid paying ‘just compensation’ under the Fifth Amendment,” said Simeone.

This is something that a court may need to resolve, which is something that could generate a settlement. Both sides would likely prefer to pay the residents to move than to pay the costs of a multi-year court case. Plus, the government or owner still has to deal with and pay for maintenance of the property, including the sewage issues, pending resolution of the case.

The Daily Business News will continue to follow this story as it develops. ##

(Image credits are as shown above.)

rcwilliams-writer75x75manufacturedhousingindustrymhpronews

RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.