Sixteen families are facing eviction at a mobile home in Greensboro as the land is being sold to a developer. This community — already struggling financially due to the pandemic — is staring down a possible future without a place to call home.
Miguel Medina, a father of one who has been living in the lot for just over a year, invested all of his savings to move his family to their new trailer at Jamison Mobile Home Park, which is right off of Spring Garden street, not far from the Lindley Park neighborhood. His plan took a turn in July when he and all the residents received letters from Family Properties — the owner of the lot — that the property had been sold. All tenants needed to vacate in 75 days.
"I have a newborn daughter, just one-month-old," Medina explained. "So my expenses have definitely gone up, even if I wanted to move the trailer, I can't really do it. It's really expensive to move a trailer."
Medina is only one of 16 residents currently fighting eviction from Jamison Mobile Home Park. On July 12, all tenants received a letter from owner Lynne Anderson telling them they needed to vacate the property since she accepted an offer from Owls Roost Partner Companies to sell the lot.
The families reached out to Siembra NC, a North Carolina grassroots organization that advocates for the wellbeing of Latino communities. Lead organizer Laura Garduño has been working with the tenants to purchase the property.
"The neighbors knew, and they were going to go to court and have an attorney represent them at court to fight their eviction," Garduño said. "But Lynne Anderson understood that and she's given them a second notice, amending the first notice and saying that the neighbors have now until January 3rd of 2022 to move their home."
This statute is the 2005 North Carolina Notice of Conversion of Manufactured Home Communities, which obligates all mobile home property owners to give a notice of at least 180 days regardless of the term of the tenancy.
Esteban Cabrera, a resident of 21 years, is currently out of a job due to battling cancer.
"I'm not leaving. I refuse to leave," says Cabrera. "We will fight to stay but I refuse to leave. I don't think it's necessary to leave since she's selling and we're buying, the money is the same."
According to the residents, they haven't been able to contact Lynne Anderson. So, they have delivered a letter to Owls Roost Partners Company asking them to back out of their option to purchase. The tenants are determined to fight for their homes and to buy the property as a neighbors association.
Francisca Gónzales is one of the neighbors in danger of eviction.
"As a neighbor association we can definitely buy," says Gónzales. "All we need is for the owner to give us the yes, that she's selling us the lot."
Gónzales says that if they end up being evicted, the cost of buying another lot, plumbing, and moving their homes would amount to a minimum of $46,000.
There's a trend of developers buying up properties and evicting residents across the country. In 2019, Senator Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to wealthy firms asking them to “stop preying on rural lower-income communities to turn a profit.”
Ed Sharp, supervising attorney for Legal Aid of Greensboro, explains that North Carolina is not the exception.
"They often come in and double the rent and then get very aggressive at evicting people who don't pay, and the mobile homeowners, the people who own the actual trailers, are kind of at their mercy," says Sharp.
Sharp says that he's seeing more mom-and-pop operations — owners of 10 and 20 lots — putting their properties for sale and selling them to the highest bidder.
Currently, the families are having weekly meetings with Siembra NC to plan fundraisers and events to raise money to buy the lot, but so far there's no guarantee that things will change.
This story was produced by a partnership between WFDD and La Noticia. You can read this story in Spanish at La Noticia.
Eileen Rodriguez is a reporter for both WFDD and La Noticia through Report for America, where she covers COVID-19's impact in the Latino Communities.
Periodista de La Noticia y 88.5 WFDD, Eileen Rodríguez reporta el impacto de COVID-19 en la comunidad Latina en Carolina del Norte. Rodríguez es miembro del cuerpo de periodistas de Report for America 2021-2022