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Strategy For Dealing With Relocation

Moratorium On All Mobile Home Park Rezoning !!!

Sometimes you . . .
Can't win.
Can't break even.
Can't get out of the game.

The park owner is under contract to sell the park pending rezoning, he can't back out. Only the city can save the park by not rezoning and placing a moratorium on mobile home park redevelopment or making the MH1 zoning permanent for a period of time such as 5 years.

If you love your home, the park, living in Coconut Creek your best strategy is to try and save the park.

If you owe substantial money on your home, your best strategy is to try and save the park.

If it would be incredibly inconvenient or impossible to move your home and you don't want to lose your investment, your best strategy is to try and save the park.

If your title is messed up preventing you from selling, but not preventing you from living in your home, your best strategy is to try and save the park.

If you want out and are trying to sell, but can't because the park is for sale, your best strategy is to try and save the park.

If you rent from the park and have nowhere better to go, your best strategy is to try and save the park.

What you can do to save the park:

Take the time to write a personal letter to each commissioner and the city manager reminding them you are a concerned citizen of Coconut Creek. Charge them with the mandate to protect all their citizens especially in the mobile home parks. Tell them to lock in the current park zoning for at least 5 year.

Do NOT use email, it will be discarded. Invest the two dollars in stamps toward saving your home.

If you do use email, request a reply each time. If you don't continue to receive replies you're in their kill-file or spam filter which automatically deletes messages they don't want.

Attend the commission meetings and when citizens are allowed to speak stand up for the park. Ask for the fines to be dropped and the park protected from rezoning.

Attend the zoning meeting when we are scheduled and remind them we are the citizens here entitled to their protection, that no one is entitled to a change of zoning for personal profit if it's not in the public good. Let them know what their decision will mean to you and your family.

Ask friends, relatives, co-workers, employers, places you shop, to contact the commissioners to ask the park be saved.

Write the Sun-Sentinel letters to the editor once every sixty days to complain about the callus disregard the city is showing their most vulnerable citizens. Make it strong, this isn't the time to be primly polite. Be sure to follow the guidelines and take the call to confirm you wrote the letter or it won't be published.

We won the first round because we fought individually from within a big group. Most parks that lose these battles form a home owner's association where only a few individuals speak for the home owners or they hire a lawyer to, both easy for the city to ignore. It's not as easy to ignore over a hundred citizens packing the room.

Work on what you intend to say to the zoning board. Write it down (typed if possible) study it until you feel comfortable reading it out load. If you want your words in the record as you said them, hand in a copy with your contact information after speaking to the board.

Sign up to speak at the zoning meeting whether you intend to or not. You may find yourself moved to add your voice and if not you can donate your time to those who need more then three minutes to fight for our homes.

This city is not our friend, the code enforcers didn't come to improve our lives. It is the city's view all violations will be cured by closing the park so fresh complaints will only hurry things along. The city would love to condemn the park or declare it a health emergency to force us out. We're still trying to learn who filed the original complaint requesting the visit by code enforcement.

It isn't enough to prevent the rezoning or we'll likely all be at this point a year from now. One Florida park successfully fought off rezoning for Home Depot only to be rezoned for condos six months later. Moratorium on all mobile home park rezoning !!!

Strategy If The Zoning Changes:

If the rezoning is passed by the zoning commission and the city commission and the developer doesn't back out, we will receive 6 months notice of eviction for change of land use.

You need a clear clean title to your home to take advantage of even the limited state mandated assistance available. Take the time now to clean up any problems with your title such as never registering as the new owner though I have no idea what trouble this might cause you, a factor to be considered carefully.

If your home is collateral for mortgage or loan the holder has your title, request a copy in case you choose to move your home as you can't apply to the relocation fund without it.

The state fund pays for homes with clear titles:

$1,375. to abandon a single signing title to the park owner.
$2,750. to abandon a double signing title to the park owner.
$3,000. toward moving a single with clear title.
$6,000. toward moving a double with clear title.

The reason moving pays double the abandonment is based on the cost to dispose of the home. If the home is to be crushed and used as part of the landfill rather then taken to the dump, that money may become available . . .

Know the replacement value of your home in advance in case you are asked. Check the classiffied ads for mobile homes roughly the same size and age of yours and those a few years newer as a good indicator of what you would have to pay to replace your home. At some point you may be made a limited offer to buy you out, be ready with a rational figure you can support with some clipped ads for like homes. Do this before it's too late.

It is far easier to move an empty home then one full of your stuff. You might find a buyer willing to pay more then the abandonment amount who's willing to move the home to his land or park, then he would be the owner entitled to the relocation money to move the empty home so the moving would be free as the other expenses would be minimal.

If you owe a substantial amount on your home give serious consideration to moving it. If no local parks will accept your home, consider moving it to our park owner's other park in Fort Pierce.

If you owe a substantial amount on your home and it is in good enough shape to move and be accepted at another park only you can't go through the burden of an extended move, consider selling/giving your home to a buyer who assumes your mortgage. They should be able to apply to the fund to move your empty house basically free and you get out clean.

We're in a really stupid position, because the Coconut Creek City Commission has vowed revenge on the park residents for lowering their property values, (as if there wasn't a stinky dump a stone's throw away all those years). Well we can only hope the ghost of common sense will visit them with the message the park will empty faster with less bad publicity if they sweeten the buyout for their victims.

For a city so proud of itself you would think they would want a model relocation, not a mass eviction rivalling Milosevic.

A mere two or three percent of the value of the Paloma Lakes development would mean a viable buyout for people seriously harmed by the city's harsh measures. Let them know this!

OR: It would take a minimum of fifty households ponying up $1,000. each to hire a good lawyer with experience fighting this sort of thing, who would sue everyone involved to slow or halt the sale and or get us roughly double the money for moving without taking a percentage of the settlement. Only those who kicked into the gamble would benefit.

During this time you may still have to move and will not be able to apply to the relocation fund while the court grinds their way through the suit if the parties don't settle.

With a little good will on the side of the owners, residents and the city, the park closing could go from a man made mass eviction disaster to a controlled relocation with real help.

What to expect if you don't move within the 6 months:

The correct answer is you will be court evicted by sheriff's deputy soon after. (Unless you hire an eviction lawyer who can temporarily halt the eviction, get you more time and file suit on your behalf. In eviction court, 95% of people without legal support lose.) Your household goods will be placed on the side of the nearest public street and no one will be responsible for what happens to you or your property. The trailer will be sealed and removed to storage where it will be sold to cover storage fees or destroyed.

Not to be taken for legal advice: What happens depends on how many people are left, how the contract reads, when the construction is to start. A good building plan will allow for short delays by eviction lawyers fighting for a little more time and moving money. A problem eliminated when reasonable financial aid is made available.

A hard knot of twenty to twenty five home owners all in the same boat of being totally screwed by the arrangements might be capable of protecting their homes until some kind of compromise can be reached. When it's announced everyone's circumstances are different it should mean the need to deal fairly is recognized.

What remains are people who simply refuse to abandon or move their home. Quality of life is severely impacted when utilities won't be repaired or pull out. The scattered handful of surviving homes become an attraction to vandals and thieves. As the home is "trespassing" you might leave and return to find it bulldozed with no recourse.

There is no question losing one's home and life investment is one of the most freaking miserable rotten things that can happen to a person. You can't let the emotion of the ship sinking get in your way to the life boats. Keep an open mind for the opportunity to make the best move possible under the circumstances.

Add to this list, send in your ideas.

From: Larry Yates

Overall, people living in manufactured housing/mobile homes are among the most powerless in the country -- as generally they are lower income people who are also living in housing that is the subject of stigmatization and jokes from pretty much the rest of the population. Perhaps most serious, unlike most tenants, they cannot simply put their possessions in a truck and move on -- they cannot move at all without either losing the home they own or finding a place to move it to -- something that gets harder to do every day. In a way, they have the worst of being both homeowners and tenants -- tied to a piece of housing, but with no real estate equity; at the mercy of a landlord, but without the usual tenant's options in a larger housing market.

Mobile home owners/lot tenants have become a political force in a few places. I know in Vermont they were part of tenant organizing efforts there in the 80s. In California, they actually became a statewide political force, and got legislative changes to their benefit, again in the 80s or earlier. I have not kept track of these efforts. It would be worth checking for such groups in Florida, where this housing is fairly common.

One solution to this kind of situation that should be doable is for a nonprofit to acquire and manage the mobile home park. Such a nonprofit could negotiate a situation where tenants can stay as long as they live and want to stay, but no new mobile homes come in. It may be necessary for the tenants to separate themselves from the owner -- I don't want to stereotype or assume anything, but a lot of mobile home park owners have been guilty of various unsavory maneuvers, and often the locality gets away with displacing the tenants by focusing on the sins of the owners. (Right now in Roanoke Virginia, there is a mobile home park owner who has been found grossly violating environmental/sewage regulations; there is a real risk that as a result some mobile home residents, caught in the middle, will lose their lots, and perhaps their homes.)

I think it is critical in this situation that local faith groups, housing and homelessness organizations, civil rights groups, and groups concerned about seniors, women and children, be put on the spot and directly asked to support the tenants, who, I would be certain based on my experience, have few other viable alternatives for housing. Local decisionmakers must be made to see this as a housing crisis, not a zoning issue. If necessary, the stigma of living in a "trailer" should be confronted directly -- something like a kid holding a sign -- I may live in a trailed but I'm not trash -- don't throw me away.

People who can't do anything else should send e-mails, as requested, but in my experience issues like this are resolved locally, One "outside" support might be "alumni" of the mobile home park -- anyone who has moved on to relative success or fame and will speak up in defense of the community (it was important for me when I needed it kind of thing..) would be great.

The manufactured housing industry has a lot of information about mobile homes, and in some limited ways, without offending the park owners, will sometimes help tenants establish that mobile homes are a viable housing alternative. They did some of that in Virginia in the 1980s -- I have no idea what the state association in Florida now will be like, but it's worth checking.

hope that helps

Larry Yates

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