Tenants of Newport News mobile home park seeking help as park's closure forces them to move

mobile home park
Posted at 11:59 AM, May 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-05 18:29:45-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Several families at Patrick Henry Mobile Home Park in Newport News are faced with uncertain futures after they were told they needed to pack up and leave.

The homes sit behind the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, which owns the land. The site's owners have decided to shut the park down after they say they can no longer maintain the property and are not making any money on the park anymore.

A notice of termination of lease went out to tenants last week saying the reason the park is closing is due to fast-declining infrastructure.

Many families who live in the community have been there for years. Many own their mobile homes and now they fear they’ll soon be homeless because they don’t have the money to move.

Jennifer Rolon has owned her mobile home for four years. She said she’s put $20,000 worth of renovations in it.

“It’s not my trailer; it’s my beautiful home,” she said.

Rolon could sell her home, but she says she would lose money and can’t afford to move it to another park.

“You need $5,000 or $7,000 for moving, and I no got that money,” said Rolon.

The airport is offering to buy the titles to residents' trailers for $2,000 each, but they’d have to move out by the end of May. Tenants say they need more money to leave and time.

“It’s not fair,” Rolon said. “It’s hard; it’s very stress. It’s too short a time and go.”

If tenants wait to leave after July, there won’t be any compensation.

John Reynolds lives in Patrick Henry Mobile Home Park with his mother and 7-year-old son Jaxson.

“That’s not no incentive to leave, and how can we pick up and move our entire livelihood in 30 days?” said Reynolds.

United Way is working with the airport commission to help families as they transition through the closing of the park. The nonprofit organization is connecting tenants with housing programs and possible financial assistance.

Charvalla West, United Way’s chief operating officer and director of community impact, said a lot of residents have unique needs and have pets, adding the lack of housing right now is making it difficult.

“The timing couldn’t be worse,” West said. “We’re already seeing a very high increase in evictions, which means other people losing their homes. Affordable housing is almost nonexistent. It’s so scarce right now.”

United Way brought about 20 local organizations – from government, nonprofits and faith leaders – on Monday to discuss what resources are available for the families and the best way for them to access those resources.

Reynolds said moving the trailer on a flatbed starts at $5,000 and not all parks take them after a certain age.

“There’s nothing I feel like we can do about it right now,” he said. “We have to move our whole home. We don’t even know where to go.”

Reynolds’ mother Kim Childers, who owns the home, said she put $12,000 into fixing it. The uncertainty of her future is taking a toll.

“I cried two days ago at work and yesterday I couldn’t finish my lunch,” said Childers.

The airport’s executive director Mike Giardino said there are no set plans for what they’re going to do with the land after the park closes.

Meantime, several of these tenants are in the process of getting a lawyer to file a civil lawsuit.