Century Mobile Home Park for sale

Courier photo The sale of the Century Mobile Home Park in Alamosa could create a tumultuous situation for some of the park's inhabitants.

Residents face difficult choices

ALAMOSA – More than 100 individuals and families – many of whom are vulnerable, living on low income and have children - received news two weeks ago that has the potential to completely upend their lives, costing them the homes they have bought and paid for and ultimately leaving them with no place else to live.

“The situation could be very devastating,” says Dawn Melgares, executive director of the San Luis Valley Housing Coalition, in an exclusive interview with the Valley Courier.   

It all started with a letter from San Juan Vista, LLC of Las Vegas, Nevada, owners of Century Mobile Home Park, located at 17th Street and State Avenue in Alamosa. Delivered on July 20, all 148 residents of the mobile home park were notified that the property is being sold. According to the notice - also sent to the City of Alamosa - the owners have received an offer from an undisclosed buyer to purchase the property for $6.8 million. In cash.  

For perspective, Melgares cites another Alamosa mobile home park that was sold in 2021 where SLV Housing Coalition advocated for the residents. That park had 60 spaces and was sold for $1.9 million. According to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs website (https://cdola.colorado.gov/mobile-home-park-resources), Century Mobile Home Park has 148 homes, 104 of which are owned by the people living there.

“We were shocked by the offer made to the owners of Century Mobile Home Park,” she says. “It’s about two and a half times bigger than the park that sold in 2021 but is selling for three and a half times what the other buyer paid.”

Of the 104 individuals and families living in Century who own their homes, many were built before 1972. But ownership of their home does not include ownership of the land where the home is located, putting people at risk of the land literally being sold right out from beneath them.

The park residents are not without rights. Thanks to Colorado’s 2020 Mobile Home Park Act, San Juan Vista is prohibited from contacting residents for the first thirty days after notification of the pending sale, allowing residents time to be informed of those rights and consider next steps to be taken.

The legislation also provides homeowners the right to form a Resident Owned Community (ROC) and make an offer to purchase the property. But becoming a qualified ROC comes with stipulations.

More than 50% of the homeowners in the park need to agree to become an ROC or turn their right to buy the park over to a non-profit or federal entity. But they only have 90 days from the date of notification – in this case, the middle of October - to work through that process, which is complicated. Residents also only have until mid-October to get the financing for whatever offer they would make. If they can do that, the current owner of the park is required, by law, to negotiate

“I think the $6.8 million figure is going to be hard for the residents to figure out,” says Melgares.

Obtaining private funding is a possibility, and Melgares says SLV Housing Coalition and other groups are currently reaching out to pursue different avenues. But funding in similar situations has typically come from a different source.

“To go through the path required to become an ROC often requires government funding,” says Melgares. “Government funding places limitations on who can and can’t reside in the park. So, even if they go through everything to become an ROC, those limitations could put other hardships on people and a lot of those people have children. It’s a very tight timeline and it’s difficult to do. But it’s been done. And not trying could potentially be devastating for the park.”

If the residents decide not to pursue making Century Mobile Home Park a Resident Owned Community, the new owner has the freedom to charge more for rent and fees, such as water, utilities and maintenance. Legally, the owner can only raise the rent once a year. But there is no cap on how much that increase can be.

Again, Melgares cites the mobile home park in Alamosa that was recently sold.

At the time of the sale, the rent was $290. That was immediately raised to $385, not including fees.

“A lot of the people who live in that park are older and on social security. I’ve talked to three different people who have had to go back to work just to pay the higher rent and fees. And now the rent is about to be raised again. With fees added in, those residents will probably have to pay about $700 a month. Mobile homes are becoming unaffordable.”

All of these factors are based on a scenario where the buyer continues to use the land for a mobile home park. But what happens if the plan is to develop the land for a different use?

If that should happen, the 2020 Mobile Home Park Act requires the owner to give residents 12 months to move their home to another park.

But moving a mobile home is another potentially devastating part of the story.

It costs an average of $10,000 to move a mobile home, not including deposits at a new park plus fees to hook up utilities. Even if the residents have the money to move their homes, there are no local movers.

Mobile homes are not always that mobile and moving them, especially if they are older, can be risky. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, homes older than 1976 do not meet safety regulations and should not be moved even a short distance.

There is also a very limited number of mobile home parks with available spaces. Even if residents’ homes were not forty-five to fifty years old, even if they have thousands of dollars to move their homes and there were local movers to do that, there is no place to move.

Under this scenario, residents would have to just walk away from the homes they have bought and paid for.

“Many of the people who live in mobile home parks are immigrants or have just come out of the justice system,” says Melgares. “Owning their own home has provided them with a sense of security. But if they can’t move their home and they can’t stay where they are, they lose everything they own. All that security goes away. That is very devastating.”

Much is still unknown but, fortunately, residents are not alone in facing this challenge. Dawn Melgares and the SLV Housing Coalition, along with several other organizations, are holding a meeting to inform residents of their rights, answer questions and explain different options.

That meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 10 at 5:30 p.m. The meeting will be held in the gymnasium at Boyd School, 1107 Hunt Avenue in Alamosa. Spanish-speaking translators will be available, and Melgares said they are currently working on having child care available during the meeting. Anyone in need of additional information about the meeting should call SLV Housing Coalition at (719) 587-9807.

This is a developing story and more on the sale of the Century Mobile Home Park will be reported as information becomes available.

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