Mobile home residents worry about loss of housing after communities sold

MOUNT VERNON, VA — Mobile home residents on Tuesday expressed concerns about potential rent increases that could drive people out of their homes after their two mobile home communities were sold.

The two mobile home parks – Ray’s and Engleside Mobile Home Parks – are located off Richmond Highway in the Mount Vernon area of ​​Fairfax County. Mobile home residents say the owners – Ahora Company LC and Rapido Company LC – have previously indicated they will not sell the properties.

However, the owners informed residents in September that they had received a $24.2 million offer from Pacific Current Partners to purchase the mobile home parks and that they planned to sell the mobile home parks to Pacific Current. Partners with 60 days notice.

Pacific Current Partners’ website says the investment firm is focused on providing “safe, high-quality housing” in manufactured homes and RV communities.

Virginia’s Manufactured Home Lot Rental Act requires that an offer from tenants be considered for the purchase of a mobile home park during the 60-day notice period. By law, the landlord should consider additional offers by an entity representing at least 25% of the tenants.

The mobile home residents worked with Tenants and Workers United to bid, creating two resident tenant associations, finding a nonprofit buyer to bid on their behalf, and seeking financial support from Fairfax County.

Marianela Funes, an organizer for Tenants and Workers United, said through a translator that Habitat for Humanity had provided support for the process. However, Funes said Fairfax County did not have the money to support a purchase by residents.

Residents say the owners’ attorney said a resident-led bid would not be considered. According to Tenants and Workers United, Pacific Current Partner’s $24.2 million offer is nearly three times the combined $8.1 million estimated values ​​of the mobile home parks.

Since the sale closed on Tuesday, residents have been dealing with uncertainty and hoping the new landlord won’t raise rental prices. On Tuesday, mobile home residents spoke at a press conference with Tenants and Workers United and the Legal Aid Justice Center.

“It’s a very safe place. It’s a very quiet place, and just to know that in this property there could be an increase in our rent, it’s a place where we wouldn’t want that to happen” , said Saul Hernandez, a resident. at the mobile home park for 14 years, through an interpreter.

Courtesy of Tenants and Workers United

Hector, another resident who did not provide his full name, was disappointed the county could not help further with the purchase.

“The fact that Fairfax County was not transparent throughout the process, they made decisions behind closed doors or had conversations behind closed doors, and to know that our families, Latinx families, really been left out of this process and we just don’t know what’s going to happen next,” the resident said through an interpreter.

Patch has reached out to Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck for comment. In October, Storck said in his newsletter that he had met with residents to hear their concerns and was “working hard to address them.”

The resident said his lease is in effect in August and does not know if there will be a rent increase. He said he used his savings to make improvements to his house.

Maria Osorio, a resident since 2004, said she worked hard to buy a house and her children grew up in the community.

“We were finally able to buy a house thanks to a lot of effort and sacrifice,” Osorio said. “We are human beings and we deserve respect like everyone else. We don’t want to continue in this state of uncertainty; we don’t want to be afraid of displacement.

Residents want to meet with the new owners to find out what they plan to do with the mobile home parks and share their concerns such as deteriorating roads and plumbing issues.

Larisa Zehr, an attorney with the Legal Aid Justice Center, noted that mobile home parks provide affordable housing without subsidies and differ from apartment complexes.

“Because Fairfax County has only eight mobile home parks, each sale threatens already exhausted affordable housing opportunities for low-income residents, many of whom are Latinx and immigrant families,” Zehr said. “At the same time, state and local policy gives these residents extremely limited recourse to influence the sale of the land under their feet.”

However, Zehr said the county recently adopted recommendations from its Manufactured Homes Task Force, such as the county working earlier in the process on purchase options and prioritizing funding to preserve parks. mobile homes.

This is not the first time that residents have spoken out in an attempt to protect their homes. In 2020, a decision was deferred on a plan amendment to increase the density of the mobile home park area for redevelopment opportunities. According to Alexandria Living Magazine, the board of supervisors agreed to further evaluate the proposal.