Editor's Note: Some interviews have been translated from Spanish to English. Maricela and Lombardo’s last name has been omitted to protect their privacy.
Residents of Tranquility Forest Mobile Home Park shared stories of their community Sunday in an attempt to reverse an eviction order from the land’s owner currently scheduled for June.
At a solidarity event Sunday, some residents of the community described receiving notice in December that they had to vacate the land. There are around 40 to 50 mobile homes at Tranquility Forest, located off State Highway 72 in Hull. Many of the residents are immigrants and do not know where they’ll be able to go next. It costs money to move or destroy a mobile home, and many families in Tranquility Forest cannot afford the fee, which is usually in the thousands.
A group of residents sent a letter to the owners of the land asking for more time or for them to pay the removal costs for the trailers. The owner’s response to the letter was that residents were given enough notice to move before June, Jessica Martinez said. Martinez is a member of Dignidad Inmigrante En Athens, a community organization that organized the solidarity event.
The owner said the land needs to be empty to do electrical work, Martinez said.
“There’s over 50 families here that would have to leave. So a lot of them don’t have a place to go, and if they do find a place to go, [there is] the cost of just moving it [the mobile home] and inspections,” Martinez said.
Maricela and Lombardo have lived at Tranquility Forest for years. Their children go to local schools and have friends in the community that they now have to leave.
Maricela said she recognizes that the residents don’t own the land, but she would like more time to figure out next steps and for the landowners to pay for the removal of the trailers. She said it is unjust to ask residents to pay out of pocket to move or destroy homes they have invested time and money in.
Maricela and Lombardo are looking for places to go, but the pandemic has impacted the family’s finances, and they are having trouble saving up for a security deposit and rent. Maricela wants Tranquility Forest to be an example to other communities facing eviction, particularly during a pandemic.
“These are largely essential workers who are immigrants, who don’t have anywhere else to go, who are struggling to support their families,” Maricela said, translated from Spanish to English by Martinez.
Beto Mendoza, DIA’s community coordinator, said the objective of the solidarity event was to raise awareness of the eviction. Mendoza said many of the residents are essential workers that are under-appreciated and often exposed to the coronavirus, and that now they need the support of the wider community.
The residents of Tranquility Forest are forming a neighborhood group to advocate for themselves. DIA will provide organizational support and resources, Martinez said. Their goal is to sway the owner to let them stay on the land or pay for the removal of their mobile homes, and to raise awareness of the issue.