Tenants at two Jessup mobile home parks who were bracing for eviction today have received a 60-day extension from the parks' owner and anoffer of help from the county.
In the next week, county housing and social service agencies will meet with residents to help them secure a place to live after the Dennis and Ark parks are shut down to make way for the new Brentwood Manor mobile home park.
"We have to find out what each person needs in order to put roofsover their heads," said Stephen D. Hannan, county consumer affairs director. "Then we'll look at county moneys and give each of the families the options that are available to them."
Residents have been in limbo since July 22, when they received letters from Gilbert A. Mobley, who owns the parks, ordering them to vacate the premises by Sept. 1.
Many tenants, who are elderly or on fixed incomes, don't wantto leave and say they can't afford to move into the new park. Mobleyis requiring that homes in Brentwood Manor be 14 feet wide. Most of the Dennis and Ark residents own 12-foot-wide homes. Hookup costs forwater, sewer, electricity and telephone service can run an additional $4,000.
Last week about 40 residents attended a meeting at the Savage branch of the public library to hear what the county officials are doing to resolve the situation.
The plan calls for tenants to meet with representatives from the county housing office, the Office on Aging and the Community Action Council to assess each family's financial needs. These agencies will determine if the tenants are eligible for grants or low-interest loans that would pay for a new mobile home, hookup costs or relocation.
The County Council may have to pass emergency legislation to make county money available to mobile home owners because many housing assistance programs apply only to "realproperty."
Mobile homes are considered "personal property," County Council Chairman C. Vernon Gray said.
Looking toward the future,Gray said he plans to look into ways to ensure that mobile home owners aren't put in the position that Dennis and Ark residents find themselves in right now.
He's considering such options as rezoning land specifically for mobile home owners and financing a homeowners cooperative that would allow mobile home owners to buy their lots.
"People have to rid themselves of the negative stereotypes they have toward mobile homes and make it part of the whole scheme of affordable housing," Gray said.
Despite the intervention of county and state officials on the residents' behalf, many who attended the meeting werequestioning why they are being forced out of their homes.
"How come he decides on 14-foot trailers? He's hurting 90 percent of the people in the park," said 69-year-old park resident William Matthews of Mobley's requirement for the new park. "People on Social Security andfixed incomes can't buy another trailer."
Donald White said he's been looking for another mobile home park to move into but hasn't hadmuch luck. His 12-foot home fails to meet federal standards.
"I have called every mobile home park around, and no one will accept my home," he said. "There's one in Baltimore that hasa two-year waiting list. Where do I go with my $12,000 mobile home?"
Mobley, who couldnot be reached for comment, operates a used mobile home sales operation adjacent to the new Brentwood Manor park and has offered to sell homes to some residents.
But some tenants at the meeting who sought to buy from him said they couldn't meet the payments.
The Mobleys, who have owned Ark since 1977 and Dennis since 1983, have been under a court order since 1985 to correct their septic system. The county accused them of dumping raw sewage from their parks into Dorsey RunStream.
Their site development plan for Brentwood Manor park, which will be connected to the county water and sewer system, complies with county regulations.