Some Families Facing Eviction Have Nowhere to Go

By  | 

Fifteen families facing eviction from their Tallahassee mobile home park are having a hard time finding somewhere else to go.

The City of Tallahassee and several social service agencies have been trying to help them, but they keep running into one big problem. It's the lack of affordable housing.

Tallahassee's Neighborhood Community Services says this is the first time in years it has dealt with evictions of this magnitude due to code violations, and it's time to come up with a plan to deal if it ever happens again.

Angela McBride and Annie Hunter have lived in the Pine Ridge Mobile Home Park for about 10 years. They're now among the nearly 15 families facing eviction and have nowhere to go.

Angela McBride says, "I'm happy where I am, but I understand if we have to move, we have to move."

But moving is proving easier said than done. Hunter says she can't find a place she can afford.

The property owner, Henry Cotton, says he's trying to help them find a place to go. He says he collects about $200 a month on average from the tenants. Some still owe thousands. He says he doesn't expect them to pay the full amount back.

Henry says, "The houses are free. I charge just enough for lot rent."

Brenda Tanner, who oversees the city's code enforcement, says the city is working to find the evicted families affordable housing. Like Angie, she's not finding nearly enough.

Brenda says, "It's not just from this standpoint of 12 to 15 homes, but a plan needs to be in place in this ever happens again."

The Big Bend Homeless Coalition says the lack of affordable housing is not a new problem, but this is helping bring it to light.

Kay Freeman, Executive Director of the Big Bend Homeless Coalition, says, "The fact that two bedroom apartment costs $687 a month highlights how unaffordable it is, particularly if you're earning minimum wage."

Brenda Tanner says a strategic plan is in the works to address the problem.

But for Angie and Annie, "We've got to do the best we can to find a place."

That strategic plan will be an effort of the city and a number of social services agencies in Tallahassee that deal with low income housing issues. It could also include federal, state and local funding.

In the meantime, the landlord, Henry Cotton, says tenants can remain in their homes until they find a new place to live.