MOUNT VERNON, VA — Mobile home residents Tuesday spoke about concerns about potential rent increases that could drive people out of their homes after their two mobile home communities were sold.
The two mobile home parks – Ray’s and Engleside mobile home parks – are located off the Richmond Highway in the Mount Vernon area of Fairfax County. Mobile home occupants allege the owners — Ahora Company LC and Rapido Company LC — previously indicated they would not sell the properties.
However, the owners notified residents in September that they had received a $24.2 million offer from Pacific Current Partners to purchase the mobile home parks and planned to grant the mobile home parks to Pacific Current Partners with 60 days’ notice to sell.
Pacific Current Partners’ website states that the investment firm is focused on providing “safe and quality housing” in prefabricated homes and mobile home communities.
Virginia’s Residential Rental Act requires that a renter’s offer to purchase a mobile home park must be honored during the 60-day notice period. According to the law, the owner should consider additional offers from a legal entity representing at least 25 percent of the tenants.
The mobile home residents worked with Tenants and Workers United to make an offer to form two tenants’ associations, find a nonprofit buyer who would make an offer on their behalf, and solicit financial assistance from Fairfax County.
Marianela Funes, organizer at Tenants and Workers United, said through a translator that Habitat for Humanity supported the process. However, Funes said Fairfax County has no money to support a purchase by residents.
Residents allege the owner’s attorney said a bid led by the residents would not be considered. According to Tenants and Workers United, Pacific Current Partner’s $24.2 million bid is nearly three times the combined estimated value of the mobile home parks of $8.1 million.
With the sale closing on Tuesday, residents now face uncertainty and hope the new owner doesn’t hike rental rates. Mobile home residents spoke Tuesday at a news conference with Tenants and Workers United and the Legal Aid Justice Center.
“It’s a very safe place. It’s a very quiet place and just knowing that there could be an increase in our rent on this property is a place we wouldn’t want that to happen,” said Saul Hernandez, a 14-year resident at the RV site through an interpreter.
Hector, another resident who did not give his full name, was disappointed that the county could no longer help with the purchase.
“The fact that Fairfax County wasn’t transparent throughout the process, they were making decisions behind closed doors or having conversations behind closed doors, and knowing that our families, Latinx families, really were left out of this process and we just did it.” don’t know what’s going to happen next,” the resident said through a translator.
Patch has reached out to Mount Vernon District Manager Dan Storck for comment. In October, Storck said in his newsletter he had met with local residents to hear their concerns and said he was “working hard to address them”.
The resident said his lease expires in August and doesn’t know if there will be a rent increase. He said he used savings to make improvements to his home.
Maria Osorio, a resident since 2004, said she worked hard to buy a home and her children grew up in the community.
“We were finally able to buy a house because of a lot of effort and sacrifice,” Osorio said. “We are human and deserve respect like everyone else. We don’t want to remain in this state of uncertainty, we don’t want to be afraid of repression.”
Residents want to meet with the new owners to find out what they plan to do with the mobile home parks and to share concerns such as deteriorating roads and plumbing issues.
Larisa Zehr, an attorney with the Legal Aid Justice Center, noted that RV parks offer affordable housing without subsidies and are different from apartment complexes.
“Because Fairfax County has only eight mobile home parks, each sale threatens already depleted affordable housing opportunities for low-income residents, many of whom are Latinx and immigrant families,” Zehr said. “At the same time, state and local politics give these residents extremely limited opportunities to influence the sale of the land beneath their feet.”
However, Zehr said the county has recently accepted recommendations from its manufactured housing task force, such as having the county work on purchase options earlier in the process and prioritizing funding to preserve RV parks.
This isn’t the first time residents have spoken out to protect their homes. In 2020, a decision to change plans was postponed to condense the area of RV parks for redevelopment opportunities. According to Alexandria Living Magazine, the board of directors agreed to further consider the proposal.