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Manufactured Home Residents Considering Lawsuit

October 19th, 2016 Comments off
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Rolling Acres residents discuss their options. Credit: Mindy Ragan Wood, Red Dirt Report.

A Shawnee, Oklahoma manufactured home community is in flux after a series of missteps.

According to Red Dirt Report, a number of residents of the Rolling Acres Mobile Home Park were outraged recently when they received a 60-day eviction notice. They are considering a lawsuit after Shawnee attorney Kent Massey invited them to discuss their legal options.

The story begins in March, when Red Dirt Report found that the community’s lagoon was overburdened with too many residents on the system. It was leaking less than a mile from the North Canadian River.

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) received complaints and served the owner, Stephen H. Sanders, with a consent order requiring the lagoon system be fixed in order to continue operations of the community.

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Credit: Wikipedia.

According to records, 59 homes are connected to the lagoon system.

But under current standards, it is only designed to accommodate 15 homes.

Late last week, 34 of 59 homes were served eviction notices. Only those who owned their homes were served.

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Top of the Rolling Acres lagoon. Credit: Mindy Ragan Wood, Red Dirt Report.

According to the Red Dirt Report, homeowners were surprised to learn that people who were renting their homes from Sanders were allowed to stay. Many of those rental units were said to be in disrepair, but the rent collection on homes can be as high as $500.

Homeowners are only paying $165 in lot rent.

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Stephen H. Sanders. Credit: SBH Auditors.

I don’t like doing it. There doesn’t seem to be any way out of it so that’s why they have to move their trailer [sic], said Sanders.It’s one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make. In fact, I’m about to retire and I was counting on that trailer park [sic] as a significant part of my retirement.

Sanders contends that while he takes responsibility for the condition of the lagoon, the same number of residents on the system were the same number as when he bought it 11 years ago.

The View from Homeowners

Up until recently, manufactured home buyers have been allowed to move onto the property, unaware of the issues with the lagoon.

Whitney Kucera and her partner, Robert Vanzant moved onto the property in June.

We paid $20,000 to buy it and fix it up, cash,” said Vanzant.

We had a settlement from a DUI accident,” said Kucera who used the cash to pay for the residence.

Now we don’t have anything. And I’m trying to get my kids back from DHS. How am I going to do that without a house? We don’t have anything left,” said Vanzant.

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Rolling Acres. Credit: Google.

Other residents point to deteriorating water quality.

When you take a shower, it burns your eyes,” said Courtney Armstrong. “And the water smells like sewage.

Sherita Chaffin has MS, a heart condition, and COPD. “The water is so nasty. I got a bacterial infection and had to go to the ER. They told me, ‘Stay away from that well water,” Chaffin said.

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Residents at Rolling Acres. Credit: KOKH.

In addition to the challenges with sanitation, many residents face another issue. Most residents agree to a rent-to-own purchase of the home and therefore are responsible for all repairs. The local media didn’t address the question if the rent-to-own program is Dodd-Frank compliant.

Many don’t stay long enough to pay for the home, so their units,  go largely unrepaired and end up in worse condition for the next rent-to-own buyer.

With the hope of home ownership, residents often decide to pay it off and then fix it up. Others purchased their homes from Sanders outright or moved the homes onto property they may purchase.

What Happens Next

As for Sanders, who also owns Pine Ridge – another community in nearby Meeker that has also had issues with lagoon usage – he’s trying to figure out the next steps with Rolling Acres, including selling the property.

It’s not something he says he wants to do. He’s retiring this week.

I couldn’t borrow $500,000 from the bank because I’m retiring. The issue isn’t just looking out for my selfish self, but what am I going to do without that retirement? The last thing I wanted to do was reduce the number of users in that park because it affects me financially,” he said.

According to the DEQ, selling would not make the issue go away.

No change in the ownership or corporate status of respondents will affect respondent’s responsibilities under this order.

Sanders points to what, in his mind, are moving targets in dealing with the DEQ.

They regularly inspect it (lagoon),” said Sanders. “I thought everything was fine, everything’s going smooth, everybody’s happy. So, I didn’t ask any questions. Slowly over the last two years they’ve changed their regulations and unfortunately they’ve gotten a lot stricter.” ##

(Image credits are as shown above.)

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

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

Demand Rising for Manufactured Homes in Louisiana Flood Zone, Factories Gear Up for FEMA, Residents

September 2nd, 2016 Comments off
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Photo credit, DigitalJournal, MHLivingNews.

For two days, rain tortured the heart of bayou country, dumping 24 inches in less than 48 hours on southern Louisiana, says a report in the DigitalJournal.

The 1000-year event flooded more than 100,000 residences, sending families into shelters and the homes of friends, relatives and even strangers.

Now, as the region enters peak hurricane season, with Hurricane Hermine bearing down on the Gulf coast, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials are scrambling to bring temporary housing to flood victims, and bracing for what Hermine may bring to the states in its path.

The last time events in the southeast tested federal resources was in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when shoddy, hastily assembled “Katrina trailers” became enduring symbols of FEMA’s failure to provide safe haven for thousands left homeless.

FEMA has “upped their game” tremendously since then, says Steve Duke, executive director of the Louisiana Manufactured Housing Association.

Thousands of newly minted Manufactured Housing Units — known as FEMA MHUs — were at the ready in Selma, AL, the southeastern staging area, when the floods inundated Louisiana.

Thousands more have been contracted to be built by manufacturers who met an August 24 application deadline.

All of these new-style FEMA manufactured housing units (MHUs) are constructed to exacting HUD-code specifications, designed to withstand local wind force criteria;  these will be anchored on piers, not rolled into yards and left there, on wheels, as were the Katrina trailers.

These are, in fact, bonafide manufactured homes, not trailers or mobile homes — a term that applies only to pre-HUD-code homes built prior to 1976 — a fine point that is widely missed in media reporting.

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Steve Duke, LMHA.

The terminology matters, because the terminology defines the construction standard,” says Duke.

The number of homes damaged or destroyed is well over 100,000 and in that part of Louisiana, some 20 percent of the housing stock is manufactured homes.

That means MH factories may need to churn out 20,000 homes — or more — to replace homes lost in the disaster — in addition to the thousands of desperately needed MHUs that FEMA requires to provide flood victims with secure temporary housing.

Retailers and manufacturers that supply Louisiana are gearing up for a monumental effort to meet the almost unprecedented needs of the people of coastal Louisiana.

Alabama-based Sunshine Homes has opted to focus on keeping its Louisiana dealers stocked with inventory and has not applied to manufacture the transitional MHUs.

We anticipate our normal business in that market to be — unfortunately — spectacular,” says Sunshine president and CEO John Bostick. “I believe our Lafayette retailer is going to call and say everything is sold.”

Bostick says he can supply them with high quality move-in ready homes within a month.

We have almost unlimited capacity,” he says. The builder is already busy, but Bostick said, “We could stretch and build a lot of homes.”

For more on the race to provide shade, shelter — and much more — to the residents left homeless by natural disasters, see the latest account by award-winning consumer affairs reporter Jan Hollingsworth here at MHLivingNews.com. ##  

(Photo collage, Sunshine Home top, FEMA MHU lower center, John Bostick president, CEO of Sunshine Homes, right.)

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L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach is the publisher of MHProNews.com and MHLivingNews.com.

Submitted by L. A. ‘Tony Kovach, to Daily Business News, MHProNews.com

Victoria BC Plans Modular Homes for the Homeless

January 29th, 2016 Comments off

tiny_homes__oregonlive_com__techdwell_the_builderSeattle opened its Tiny Home village for homeless people with 14 homes, each 96 square feet with heat, electricity and insulation, as globalnews.ca informs MHProNews.. Communal washrooms and showers provide running water, and the homes are sited on donated church land. Each home cost $2,200, donated funds, and residents pay $90/mth for electricity.

The first tiny home village was built in Portland, Oregon in 2001. Dignity Village, originally the site of a tent city for the homeless, was assembled by volunteers, non-profit groups with cooperation from the Portland City Council. Similar to Seattle, residents share bathroom and kitchen facilities.

Tiny home villages have sprung up in Fresno, CA; River Haven in Ventura, CA; Eugene, Oregon; Olympia, Washington, and now in Seattle.

Victoria (British Columbia) City Council has studied these housing options for the homeless with a $25,000 grant to the Micro-housing Victoria committee. The committee was leery of a solution that separates potential occupants from the rest of the community. Additionally, tiny home villages are supposed to be stop-gap until residents achieve more stable housing, but if affordable housing does not become available, the tine homes remain.

With this in mind, theVictoria committee designed a six unit modular home with six private bedrooms, two baths, two sinks and a full kitchen with seating for six.

Victoria City Councillor Marianne Alto said, “The city is involved with the region to create a huge amount of permanent housing available within a very short time. That’s still a couple of years away. And so the question becomes, what do you do in the meantime? And so microhousing becomes an important part of that solution.”

With a goal of five sites and ten houses by this summer, the city of Victoria has offered assistance with zoning and utilities. ##

(Image credit: oregonlive/techdwell the builder–tiny home)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J. Silver to the Daily Business News-MHProNews.

City Council sets Rent Increases for Manufactured Home Communities

March 11th, 2015 Comments off

santa_clarita_mh__khts_radio__creidt_3-2015The Santa Clarita, California City Council is expected to approve a second hearing on rent increases for residents of manufactured homes following a Feb. meeting that saw dozens of MH residents oppose the minimum increases. Erin Lay, housing program administrator for the city, said one change from the first hearing is to reduce the standard increase minimum from three percent to 2.6 percent. It would also decrease the maximum standard increase from six percent to five percent.

Thee are two types of rent increases, standard, which is not subject to appeal, and non-standard, which can be appealed. Non-standard rent increases are invariably appealed, costly for the city and the community owners, as hometownstationkhts informs MHProNews. One MH resident claimed the new ordinance would make it more difficult for residents to appeal, and also provide a better return for the owners. The appeal process involves a manufactured home rental adjustment panel, which is composed of two MH residents, two community owners and a fifth person chosen by the other four.

Lay said the new ordinance seeks to clarify what is allowable and what is not, adding the previous ordinance was confusing, causing city staff to spend hundreds of hours dealing with public records requests and issues involving jurisdictions and appeals. He said the last four appeals cost the city $164,000.

He added, the new ordinance is “protecting the owners and residents of manufactured homes from unreasonable rent adjustments while at the same time recognizing the need of park owners to receive a fair return on their investment.” ##

(Photo credit: hometownstationkhts–Santa Clarita MH community)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-com  Article submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.

32 Million not enough? MHC Residents Lose Battle to Remain or Collect

December 18th, 2014 Comments off

de-anza-cove-mobile-home-park-mission-bay-san-diego-credit=kgtv-posted-daily-business-news-mhpronews-com-Residents of the De Anza Cove Mobile Home Park at Mission Bay in San Diego, California, are preparing to move on. According to a report on SanDiego6, a $32 million settlement was reached for a legal dispute lasting 35 years between residents and the City of San Diego. 

City officials are glad it’s finally over. “They’re going to get their settlement; we’re going to get our property back,” Councilman Scott Sherman said. “It’s a long time coming. It’s been in the courts, up and down three ways from Sunday, and I think we’re finally at an end here.” Discussion of what the city might do with the land will come in the future, Sherman stated.

As is happening elsewhere in the U.S., developers believe the land had become too valuable for the community and its manufactured home residents to remain there.

The San Diego City Council recently approved the establishment of a fund to pay residents for their homes and/or property rights. Divided between residents, some will receive an amount around $60,000 and $70,000 – but much less for others. Some say it will not be enough to help them find a comparable place to live.

One of the ironies of the case is that many California jurisdictions bruise MHC owners over rent control. Now the shoe, it seems, is on the other foot as residents have gone after the city for their notion of justice.

Some of the residents have lived at De Anza Cove for more than 20 years and are attached to their address. Considering the increase in housing costs over the years, many cannot find somewhere to move that offers similar amenities for similar prices. Many feel that the city has treated them shabbily and unfairly.

Now that those proceedings are over, the settlement calls for the city to issue eviction notices within 90 days, giving residents one year to move.

The agreement also specifies payments to be provided to homeowners and renters depending on their situation, including whether or not their homes are able to be moved to another location. ##

(Photo Credit, KGTV, San Diego)

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“Mobile Home Park” Residents Legal Action Continues, drawing favorable rulings

December 11th, 2014 Comments off

syringa-mobile-home-park-credit=geoff-crimmins-daily-news-posted-mhpronews-com-In a year long legal action between the residents of Syringa Mobile Home Park Moscow, Idaho and its owner over clean water, a judge ruled in the residents favor. The Lewiston Tribune  tells MHProNews  that Latah County 2nd District Judge John R. Stegner ordered Moscow attorney Gregory Rauch to compensate the cost of one attorney representing park residents in a civil complaint filed against Magar E. Magar of Vancouver, Washington.

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported that Magar was ordered to pay a $250 a day contempt fee in connection to the suit brought against him by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality as well as another $100 a day for contempt related to a class action suit brought by Syrina residents.

Since the judge’s order Magar has not been compliant with its ruling to make his intended payments. According to residents they say: “Magar has fallen behind on his court-ordered contempt payments, which amount to $350 a day, with his last payment made Nov. 20.”

As a veteran state association executive has told MHProNews off the record, “It is not the association’s job to protect the bad or questionable behavior of a member.” The flip side is that at times, the mainstream media fails to report all of the details to keep a story balanced, albeit less exciting for local readers.

Whatever the truth of the allegations in this case, MHProNews will continue to track this story; for a previous news brief and more details, click here. ##

(Photo Credit: Geoff Crimmins/Daily News)

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County plans rent control ordinance, invites public and manufactured home industry input

October 3rd, 2011 Comments off

California_state_flagUkiahDailyJournal reports that Mendocino County Board of Supervisors plans to draft a new ordinance on the issue of rent control in manufactured home communities in their jurisdiction.  The board directed attorney Jeanine Nadel to draft an ordinance that would impose ‘rent stabilization’ for park residents.  The Board of Supervisors would then vote on the plan, pending input from all parties.   “I really do think that the public participation is necessary, absolutely, from both sides,” County Counsel Nadel said.  Land lease manufactured home community owners are naturally concerned about the proposed move. “The cost of maintaining a (manufactured home) park continues to climb,” said park owner Janet Hurlbut. “Rents must be able to keep up with the rising costs or we will be unable to keep up with the increasing maintenance costs, in addition to new maintenance and inspection laws — they’re added every year and they increase our costs quite a bit. I understand people’s frustration in these times, but please don’t turn us into a scapegoat.” Don Howard spoke on behalf of manufactured housing community residents, “These park owners speak like they won’t be able to raise rents at all,” Howard said. “I think an ordinance would provide a reasonable increase in rents as they are shown to be necessary.”  Some communities owned by corporations outside Mendocino County raised their rents by 8 percent to 10 percent annually “with no clear justification,” Howard said. “I do understand the problem that these park owners have in trying to maintain a level of return on their investment, and they’re entitled to some reasonable return,” said resident Donna Buttitta, while expressing concern over excessive site fee increases. Community owner Dick Selzer urged the board to consider a tax or a subsidy from the county’s general fund, rather than a rent stabilization ordinance, to address concerns for area seniors. “If, in fact, the concern is the ability of mobile home park residents to pay their bills, it should be an expense borne by the populace in general and not by the people who happen to have invested in mobile home parks,” Selzer said. Those interested in attending meetings or providing input and drafting the ordinance should e-mail the Mendocino County Executive Office at ceo@co.mendocino.ca.us, or call 463-4441 for more information.

(Graphic credit: Wikimedia Commons)