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Trailer park residents worry they’re being forced out

Posted at 6:47 PM, Aug 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-16 21:14:15-04

CANON CITY – Residents of a Canon City trailer park are worried they could soon be forced out of their homes. Their park has gone without a property manager or on-site office for months. Both are violations of city code.

What’s more, they say it’s just getting too expensive to live at the Central Manufactured Home Community.

“The rent keeps going up and it’s going to make people lose their homes,” said homeowner Scott Winborne.

People here own their homes, but they rent the land underneath it. That lot rental generally costs much less than a typical condo or apartment. However, the new owner of the Central mobile home park, RV Horizons, has raised lot rents twice in the past 12 months since purchasing the property.

They also started charging fees for water, sewer and trash removal, all of which used to be included in their rent. It amounts to a $79 increase in monthly expenses or roughly a 25 percent increase from early 2017.

Homeowner Dawn Ketcham said it’s burden for people like her who live on fixed incomes.

“I get $750 a month to live on and my rent is almost $400 right now,” said Dawn Ketcham.

Winborne said when the initial $25 rent increase was announced, the notice explained that the owners were planning to pave the gravel driveway through the park.

“Nothing’s ever been done,” he said. “Then all of a sudden we have to pay for water, sewer, trash.”

The code violations worry Ketcham the most. She fears the park could lose its license forcing all of the tenants to be evicted.

Canon City Public Information Office Kristy Gotham explained that city staff won’t simply remove a license. Generally, they will work with business owners who are out of compliance to encourage them to meet the proper requirements.

Even if RV Horizon completely failed its annual inspection, Gotham said the tenants would not be removed overnight. Instead, code enforcement would notify the city clerk about the non-compliance.

“That would be processed by the city clerk who then takes the recommendation to city council for a hearing on whether to renew the license or not and the city council would make a final determination,” Gotham said.

She added that RV Horizon has told the city they plan to hire an onsite manager.

The park is currently managed by the manager of another mobile home community that RV Horizon owns a short distance away.

“RV Horizons does plan to hire a community sponsor and open an office,” Peter Reinert, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for RV Horizon, said in an email.

Ketcham still has doubts.

“They’ve had 10 and half months to get a manager on site and they’ve neglected to do that,” she said. “Who’s to say they’re going to do it in the next six weeks.”

Reinert explained that the rent increase and utility fees were added this year meet match competitive market rates.

“The rent may be increased in 2019 to remain competitive with the market,” Reinert added.

Why don’t the homeowners just move? Some homes are just too according to local codes and trucking company rules. It’s also more expensive than you might think, often costing thousands of dollars just to move short distances.