Tenants of Newport News mobile home park being forced out due to declining infrastructure

Posted at 11:33 AM, May 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-04 22:26:24-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Dozens of people living in a mobile home park behind the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport are being forced out of their homes.

The Patrick Henry Mobile Home Park is located off Cherokee Drive in Newport News. The land is owned by the Peninsula Airport Commission, which has now decided to shut the park down.

A notice of termination of lease went out to tenants on April 30. According to the notice, the reason tenants were given is because of fast-declining infrastructure. The notice read, “The infrastructure of the Patrick Henry Mobile Home Park has begun to decline at an accelerated pace.”

Patrick Henry Mobile Home Village notice

Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport Executive Director Mike Giardino said there were drainage issues that needed to be addressed. He also said the property was no longer making any money because the park went from 250 units decades ago to 78 units today.

Many families who live in the community have been there for years. They’ve built a life there, and now they fear they’ll soon be homeless.

"That’s my house. That’s my peace. I’m a single mother. I work hard for take care of my children; to pay the bill, pay the rent so my kids can sleep in warmth. And they want to kick everybody here out," said Yahaira Martinez Hernandez.

Hernandez holds back tears as she faces an uncertain future. She’s owned her home mobile home in the park for a decade and says she’s living paycheck to paycheck.

Raising three kids on her own, her youngest is 7-year-old Milton. And now, she - along with - nearly 80 other families in the park has to pack up and leave.

"I no have place to go. I no have money for [the] move," Hernandez told us. "I can’t sleep. I can’t eat."

A notification posted for tenants last week initially told them they had to be out by August 28, 2022. But Wednesday afternoon, a new sign went up, and that date was extended to November 5.

Tenants are being offered $2,000 if they move out by the end of the month.

"This is short notice. You can’t find a place to rent right away," said homeowner Efralyn Rosa Arce.

If tenants leave by June 30, they would be compensated with $1,000 and $500 if they move out by July 31.

No incentives are offered after July, but families are not being charged the nearly $400 for rent this month up through November 5.

Arce, who takes care of his father on a fixed income, says it’s not enough.

"Nobody here is on their way to progress. I'm not," he said.

Mike Giardino, the airport's executive director, says the United Way is helping families move elsewhere. He added tenants can always sell their home but would have to move it off the property.

"What’s being offered on the table is more than double of what our obligation is for the lease," he said.

Hernandez is holding onto hope as she figures out another way.

"The money they give to us, it's not enough for moving, for find place," she said.

There are no immediate plans for the future of the property.