Mobile trailer parks seem to be the most endangered form of affordable housing in Miami. Mobile home parks like the Sunny Gardens and Lion Miami Terrace have been homes to hundreds of people for decades. With the recent purchase of these properties by private companies, residents are now forced to find new homes within six months.
When I first got to Legal Services of Greater Miami (LSGM) and was working on these mobile home cases, it was hard for me to wrap my head around why residents were so devastated about their eviction notices. Coming from Korea, I have not seen a single mobile home park. I was unaware of this reality. I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Can’t they just move their trailers to another park?” When I later got on site, I realized that “mobile home” is a misnomer. While these homes are built to be “mobile,” many homes cannot be moved once installed. With Miami-Dade County’s affordable housing crisis, subsidized housing is largely unavailable; there are thousands of applicants on the waiting list to receive Section 8 voucher program. And these mobile home parks are the last form of non-subsidized affordable housing in Florida.
While the county recognizes the importance of preserving mobile home parks as a source of affordable housing, it doesn’t seem to do much to protect it. These mobile homes represent the savings of a lifetime. They are worth much more than what the parks’ new owners are offering. When we heard back that the park owners are offering more than what the Florida laws on mobile-home lots require in relocation payments, I got excited. On my way back home though, I was frustrated. I was angry that there is not much that can be done to protect these homes than to get more time and more funds for relocation. I was also frustrated that these are not the only parks closing down. Many more are losing their homes. I know that the work LSGM does makes a whole world of a difference to these residents. But the question “will this ever be enough?” has been lingering in my head for the past two weeks and I don’t know if I’ll find an answer to it.