To the Editor:
At our City Council meeting Nov. 21, a local real estate agent, paid by Aspen Heights, claimed there are "400 spaces" available for mobile homes in the Columbia area. No one on the council asked him for details that would back this figure.
Regency, as well as El Ray Mobile Home Park, families have been looking for "spaces" and report finding that they are limited.
Families face many considerations while searching — and qualifying — for a suitable mobile home parking lot.
How many miles away are those "400 spaces"? When moving, a mobile home owner has to consider the distance. Seekers must figure out whether the location meets their transportation, job availability and school needs. Also, it's important to know the size of the lot.
Parks differ in lot rent charges and the upfront money required. Some accept "seniors only," and some require ownership of the mobile home. Some parks reject older or unattractive homes or homes not up to certain codes. Some won't accept pets or limit the number allowed to live in — and even visit — a home.
There is more. Parks that accommodate the disabled are hard to find. Most applications include a credit, rental and criminal background check and require proof of steady income, and in some cases, charge fees for getting this information.
Then, of course, already traumatized families do not want to uproot and move into another park owned by someone who refuses to maintain the property and operates with constant code violations. While mobile home living is affordable, it is expensive to move homes and some are unmovable.
Fact: Aspen Heights will not be building affordable housing on the old Regency property. Their proposal is for a gated compound filled with upscale student housing.
The destruction of the Columbia Regency mobile home park results in a sad loss of affordable housing. It was also a travesty in the way the Aspen Heights deal was made and how it will continue to affect negatively the well-being of our community.
However, while in itself a step backward, the Regency experience presents the City Council and us with a positive challenge that should be a primary mandate: Solve the need for quality affordable housing.
Grass Roots Organizing members who live with the daily struggle to find and maintain affordable, decent homes stand ready to help with the process.
Mary Hussmann is an organizer for Grass Roots Organizing.