NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Dozens of tenants living in the Patrick Henry Mobile Home Park are scrambling to find new homes as monetary incentives hang in the balance.
The nearly 80 families are facing more problems than just running out of time. As they’re forced out, they’re dealing with steep inflation in the housing market right now, and many of them say they simply can’t afford to move.
Mother of four Christina Jones already has her hands full.
The deadline to move out by the end of the day Tuesday for $2,000 has come, but like many other families, the Jones’ fear they’ll be homeless and are choosing to pass up the offer.
“We’ve got nothing to go to, so we’re going to be here until we can figure out something,” Jones said.
Several others living at the park are in the same situation.
“I have no clue where I’m going to go,” said tenant Susan Miller.
The Newport News Airport Commission, which owns the land, is shutting the park down on November 5.
The Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport executive director said they’re not making any money on the property and said it needs a lot of major work to fix the ongoing issues with drainage.
“It doesn’t even cover deposit sometimes,” said Jones. “You need a deposit and first month’s [rent] for any place you’re going to go. It’s not going to cover it.”
The monetary incentive goes down each month and after July, tenants don’t get a dime.
Councilman Dave Jenkins said with little to virtually no affordable housing right now the timing couldn’t be worse, especially since the airport says it doesn’t have any immediate plans for the land.
“That, to me, makes the decision even worse,” said Jenkins. “Housing is at an all-time high. It’s going to be very difficult for a lot of these families to relocate, and it just doesn’t need to be done particularly right now.”
Families who don’t sell their homes will be forced to abandon them.
Tenant Wayne Darden is a veteran and single father of three teenagers.
“They’re my biggest concern – having a home for my kids,” Darden said. “They’ve grown up here. They were born and raised here. I’m still in shock, honestly.”
Darden has owned his home in the park for 31 years and never planned on leaving.
“This has been a nice park,” he said. “It’s been a beautiful place. I really love it here. I really have no desire to move whatsoever.”
Darden said he doesn’t have the thousands of dollars it would take to move his trailer. He’s trying to sell his home, but says he’s not having much luck finding a new, affordable place to live.
“I’ve had headaches every day for probably a week trying to figure out what to do next,” he said.
For him and Jones, finding a new school for their children only adds to the worry.
“We’ve just been living life the way we can,” said Jones. “I’ve got four kids. They’re going be displaced. My daughter, she’s going to be starting middle school, so I’ve got to figure out, hopefully, by the end of summer, a place for her to be so she stays in that middle school.”
The United Way is holding a resource event for tenants on Saturday, June 11 to connect them with housing, financial, counseling and other services. The event will be on Cherokee Drive in the mobile home park and runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
News 3 is waiting to hear back from airport officials on if any tenants have moved out so far.