Simona Brown, her husband and her neighbors, have nine months to pack their things, figure out how they will move their mobile homes, find a new piece of land or mobile home park they can put their home on, and come up with the money to pay for it all.
Finding a spot as affordable as the ones they have now will be tough. Of the eight families that currently live in the mobile home park, their rent currently ranges between $75 and $150, including trash pick up.
They must leave because Monday, the Wake County Board of Commissioners voted to accept a recommendation to rezone the land for a developer.
The owners of the mobile home park on Seclusion Park Drive, off Auburn-Knightdale Road, sold the park to a developer, who wants to build a subdivision. The mobile home park owners say they can no longer afford the property because of taxes owed. The developer who bought the property requested that the 15.5 acres of land the mobile home park is on be redistricted from RMH to R-30 to match the surrounding area, so he can build an 80-home subdivision.
The mobile home park would close on Jan. 1, leaving them to find a new place.
The property owner had owned the land for more than 30 years before she died in 2008. The land was passed down to her children.
One of the children, Mary Gail Hatton, said that the family is in debt for the taxes on the property, so they have been trying to sell it for the past few years to avoid the tax implications. She said they gave the mobile home owners notice years ago that they would be selling in the near future.
“This is my family land,” Hatton said. “We love it. If I was Angelina Jolie, I would buy it myself.”
At a March 11 planning commission meeting, Sara Hurley said she owns two of the mobile homes in the park, according to meeting minutes.
“Most of the people in the park have lived in the mobile home for more than 27 years,” she said at meeting. “Two of the residents are elderly and one is in a wheel chair. Many of the residents have nowhere to go.”
Hurley said many of the other mobile home parks in the area will not accept trailers if they are too old. She said that if the residents are forced to move it could hurt a lot of people.
“I feel like they should give people more time,” Hurley said in an interview. “But I guess seven or eight months is plenty for them...These people have been here forever. You’re uprooting people who have been here for 30 years paying rent.”
If the residents are unable to move their mobile home to a mobile home park, they would have to find a new piece of land and be required to put in a well and septic tank system, which would cost as much as $10,000, Hurley said.
That was the case for Brown and her husband.
Brown and her husband, who have lived in the Seclusion Mobile Home Park for about 28 years, were fortunate to find a place that they can move their mobile home. But with that, there is uncertainty because their house hasn’t moved in so long. In the meantime she and her husband will be praying they have no trouble moving the home and saving for expenses, such as moving the home, buying land to move the trailer to and paying to put in their own well and septic tank, all of which can cost up to $20,000, Brown said.
She said she would just get a new home, but her current mobile home is already paid off and is fully furnished. Most of their memories were created there.
As for her neighbors, she said, their future is still unclear.
“None of us here are destitute, but none of us have that kind of money,” Brown said.
She said one neighbor’s mobile home was built in 1976. Brown said the mobile home has been there so long that it can’t be moved. And the structure looks old enough that other mobile home parks won’t allow it to move there.
Someone else’s land
County commissioners Sig Hutchinson and Jessica Holmes expressed concerned about the future of the mobile home owners and wanted to make sure they were taken care of.
“I’m sort of concerned about the residents that would be displaced and I want to make sure that we as a county take every effort to make sure those individuals don’t end up homeless or in unsafe housing situations,” Holmes said.
Annemarie Maiorano, the division director for the Wake County Department of Housing, said the options for the mobile home owners tend to be limited when things like this happen.
The mobile homeowners do not own the land their homes are on, so the property can be sold at any time and they have to leave, she said.
“It’s unfortunate because sometimes it’s not easy to move a mobile home like you think it would be,” Maiorano said. “Sometimes the mobile home can’t be moved. Sometimes the mobile home owner can’t afford to move it.”
She said the Department of Housing offers daily housing information sessions the residents can attend to learn what other housing options exist.
‘This is home’
Brown said she’ll miss her neighbors the most. She said her neighbors are like family. On Easter, Brown said the parents hosted an Easter Egg Hunt for the kids on the street
“This is home,” Brown said. “I mean we all know. We knew when we moved, this was not our land so we can’t argue with the people. If they want to sell it and make some money, whatever, it’s their property and it’s their right. But it’s going to be hard.”
On a sunny Wednesday afternoon at Mobile Seclusion Park, birds chirped loudly and families on the street went to each other’s houses to talk. A young girl and her mother went to Brown’s house to feed her chickens, while Brown stood across the street talking to another neighbor.
Brown looked over at her neighbor’s home and sighed.
“I’m really going to miss her,” she said.