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The city of Phoenix could be stepping in to help mobile home residents facing displacement.
The City Manager’s Office issued to the city council and the mayor on Nov. 1 a draft research report outlining how the city can help mobile home residents facing imminent displacement and reduce the risk of similar situations in the future.
The draft report was written in response to three established mobile home parks pushing residents out, either by raising rents or redeveloping the land. Those parks are Weldon Court, Periwinkle and Las Casitas, now called Beacon.
Immediate solutions proposed in the report include providing affected residents Emergency Housing Vouchers, case management services, rental payment assistance and homeownership down payment assistance.
It also proposed medium- and long-term fixes to assist mobile home residents throughout Phoenix in the future. Those included modifying mobile home park permit requirements to make it easier to create or expand parks, incentivizing property owners to operate mobile home parks and partnering with nonprofits to buy existing parks.
The report deemed other solutions nonviable, such as having the city purchase at-risk mobile home parks, rezoning existing mobile home parks and providing mobile home park residents with public housing or Housing Choice Vouchers, formerly called Section 8 vouchers.
City Council is scheduled to discuss the report during an executive session on Nov. 15, according to city spokesperson Dan Wilson.
Sylvia Herrera, a community organizer who is working with residents of all three parks, said the report is a good start to addressing the problem.
“We have to keep pressing forward to really make it happen, for the long term and the immediate future,” Herrera said.
The working group behind the report was made up of representatives from the city’s law, planning, human services, housing and neighborhood services departments, Wilson said.
‘Going to be homeless’: Mobile homeowners forced out
The draft report recommends a dozen programs to help Phoenix mobile home tenants. Five of those programs would offer immediate assistance to tenants of Weldon Court, Las Casitas and Periwinkle:
Many of these programs have specific eligibility requirements, such as having income below a certain level or being at risk of homelessness. Some, such as Emergency Housing Vouchers, require at least one household member to be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, based on criteria set by the federal government.
The report recommends several additional programs as medium- or long-term solutions, including:
The city found several of the solutions it researched to be nonviable because they were cost-prohibitive, legally unsound or otherwise logistically impractical.
While some mobile home residents and community organizers have called for the city to create special zoning for mobile home parks, the report did not recommend it. Rezoning existing mobile home parks would diminish the value of the properties, the report said, and under state law, the city would be required to pay property owners the difference.
The city cannot provide affected mobile home park residents with public housing or Housing Choice Vouchers, the report said, because the waitlists for those programs are currently full or closed.
And the report noted that buying new land for a mobile home park would be an inefficient use of city funds, as that land could be used to create higher-density affordable housing that could ultimately house more people in need.
Juliette Rihl covers housing insecurity and homelessness for The Arizona Republic. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @julietterihl.
Coverage of housing insecurity on azcentral.com and in The Arizona Republic is supported by a grant from the Arizona Community Foundation.
Phoenix could help mobile home residents at risk of displacement, draft report says – The Arizona Republic
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