Fighting for respect, cooperation and compassion

I have been a manufactured homeowner off and on for 22 years. I first lived in a community several decades ago, then my husband and I bought a site built home, where we lived for 14 years, until he passed away in 2005. He died from a tragic accident while helping our neighbor, because that’s the kind of husband I was blessed to have for 27 years. After his death, I moved to the manufactured home community I live in now. I live there with my two grandsons, who I’ve raised for the past ten years.

When I moved here 12 years ago it was a wonderful community with caring landlords, who made sure the community was well maintained and treated residents with respect. When the father who owned the community passed away his children took over the community, and due to their own age, decided to sell the community.

Life as I knew it was gone when RV Horizons purchased my community. With the new property owner came managers who were hired from other states, some who were drug dealers and alcoholics. This was very upsetting as I live in a family community, and I feel my grandchildren and the children of my neighbors were negatively impacted by the exposure to this behavior from an authority figure.

The new property owners also began raising our rent yearly, and adding in extra costs and fees for utilities that had previously been included with our rent. While raising our rent, they also closed down amenities, like our swimming pool, playground and community center. Now our family community has no recreation space for our children, and no community space for residents.

The community owner and managers have also shown little willingness to work with residents who want to bring added benefits to our community. A few summers ago I worked with others who worked with a summer meal program to make our community a host site for free meals for children. There was no cost or work required by the property owner, they simply needed to allow us to use the community center that the property owner was using for his convenience. However, this request was refused after an initial trial period. The explanation I was given is that they would need to close the community center for remodeling, since that time two years have gone by, no remodeling has occurred and the community center remains closed.

This summer, our challenge has been an extensive list of required repairs many homeowners in my community have received. The list provides us with a fixed period of 72 hours to 45 days to make the extensive repairs ranging from re-building decks, replacing skirting to tearing down sheds. This has proved a challenge to many of us, and many are still struggling to complete the repairs. Every weekend when I drive through my community I see my neighbors working hard to meet these requirements, but all of us have busy lives and other responsibilities, many are elderly and cannot work quickly, nor can they afford to pay management to make the repairs.

While myself and my neighbors work away, I’ve seen no move by the management to make repairs that are their responsibility, such as cleaning out plugged sewer drains, fixing pot holes in our roads, and or improving the homes they own and rent out to residents.

Myself personally, I still work part-time, and am raising my grandsons on my own. It’s a lot to manage while working. Keeping track of their school schedules and also closely monitoring their health, because they both have chronic asthma and sever allergies. There are many time and financial commitments that go into raising kids and I didn’t pan to be handling these on my own at this point in my life. But, I am grateful for them and for the lessons I’ve learned by doing this.

I work Monday-Friday with a senior meal program that helps seniors stay at home instead of being in a nursing home. I deliver meals to over 40 seniors every day, and check in on them to make sure they’re doing ok. It’s hard work, running around, especially in the summer when we have heat waves. Earlier this summer the combination of this work and trying to finish the outdoor repairs that management asked me to make on my home got the better of me, and I had to seek medical attention for heat stroke.

What is most frustrating to me about the notices we received about repairs is the lack of respect it shows for residents. It doesn’t acknowledge that we all have busy lives, other personal and financial commitments. We want to live in a nice community, but we want management to work with us in a respectful manner to make these repairs and improvements instead of handing us deadlines and threatening us with fines.

This situation is part of why I’m organizing with other manufactured homeowners to stand up to improve our communities, by pushing for stronger protections for manufactured homeowners and encouraging state agencies to take a more active role in enforcing current laws. Right now, we are asking State Attorney Generals to look into the business practices of my community’s owner, RV Horizons. Please join me in support residents of their communities and signing this petition.

As manufactured home communities were once blessed with mom & pop communities, it is time for our communities to come together, to educate all those who have not lived in our communities to know who we are, and what true manufactured communities represent. That includes our neighbors, the newspaper (through letters to the editor) local news, city council, government & state officials.