Sunday, September 23, 2012

THE NEW HOMELESS: EVICTION AT SEMINOLE ESTATES

In Hollywood, Florida, just south of the Hard Rock Casino, there are 1,500 people, most of them seniors, being evicted from their homes inside the Seminole Estates Mobile Home Park. Some residents can afford the move. Many cannot. Many are financially strapped. Others are quite old and physically disabled. The residents of Seminole Estates feel abandoned.

It is not unusual these days, in communities where people own their homes but not the land, for park management companies to sell out. At this approximate 120-acre park, the Seminole Tribe who owns the land but  had contracted it out as a mobile home park through 2024, bought out the lease for an undisclosed amount, and have changed the terms.

A tribe spokesperson says that there is a housing shortage and that they need the land so that 200 tribe members can live on ancestral land. One of the current residents asks, "We have empty lots and empty houses. Why can't we live together?" That doesn't seem to be an option however, and homeowners must be out of the park by the end of June 2013. If they stay past the end of this year, their rents will increase about every two months.

The protestors were hoping for some news coverage today or perhaps a visit from Senator Bill Nelson; they got me instead.
I do not understand the law enough to make wise legal claims about what the Seminoles, who own the land, quantitatively owe the residents, but I do think they owe them humane treatment, respect and fair compensation. As of now, residents who leave the park before the end of the year may collect up to a pathetically low $3,000 if eligible (they must make under $40,000 to qualify). If they stay past the new year, their rents will begin to rise through June. In addition, as soon as tribe management posted eviction notices, they shut down the pool, club house, and other amenities.

At a peaceful protest today, I met some of the residents.


MEET TROY BOLON
"How do you tell your kids 'dad's homeless,' " asks Troy Bolon who moved to Florida from California ten years ago. In the months ahead he will be losing his home, the one he lives in with his elderly parents and handicapped brother, and he will also be losing work. Troy takes care of 100 lawns in the community which account for about 1/3 of his business. He believes the residents of the park are entitled to more time and better compensation, and he is officially looking for new work.



MEET ALFRED SILVA
Alfred has lived at the park for 26 years. He moved from Rhode Island. put about $40,000 into his 1978 home. He tells me he has been a hardworking man all of his life, has never gotten a speeding ticket, and that the stress is making him sick.  With about $10,000 to his name, all he wants is a fair offer to move. "Don't embarrass us with a $3,000 offer," he says.



MEET KATHY MAYNARD
Kathy Maynard moved to the Estates 7 years ago. She sold her condo and put $125,000 into a luxurious 1,800 sq ft. manufactured home which she shares with her 10 birds, including Bonkers, a 37 year old blue macaw. Kathy Maynard has a good job. She is an accountant, and because she makes a decent living, she doesn't qualify for compensation. She has already secured a new lot for her house in a reputable community because she has to be settled by the time tax season comes around. She will be using most of her retirement savings to relocate, and will also have to find another place for her and her birds to live for 4-6 weeks during the moving process.


MEET DEO BOODRAM AND PEARL RAMLOCHAN
Deo came to the protest with lots of paperwork including the rental agreement he had signed in 2010 when he moved from New York.  He paid cash for his home, put in a new bathroom, and made other improvements. His sister Pearl has lived here since 2002. Her husband is disabled. They plead, "Just don't put us on the street."



MEET JAMIE
Jamie moved here to take care of her mother nine years ago. When her mother passed away in 2008, she stayed. Jamie has no idea what she is going to do right now. She's not worried so  much for herself as she is for the older people. "I'm here representing the elderly and people undergoing chemo" she says, "I have to be their voice."  Helping others makes Jamie feel better, and ultimately she says, "It's in God's hands."

MEET DONNA
Donna moved to the Estates on May 12, 1973. Originally, she told me, it was a family park. Her children were born here but Donna said they had to leave the park recently.


I met others: Carol, Richard, Heidi, and Thomas. Some folks are in better shape than others. They have families that will take them in or they have other homes or a decent savings to fall back on. Some want to get out as quickly as possible so as not to contribute another dime to the tribe. Many believe that they will get kicked out, the land will go undeveloped for years, and then a parking lot or additional casino will be built.

Feelings of abandonment, fear and stress are palpable. Self-preservation is a must, yet many folks worry about their friends -- those who are older, more frail and poorer. Richard Ferraro, age 69, says, "I'm not worried about me. I'm crying for others." The residents of Seminole Estates feel that the rug was pulled out from under them in a sly, calculated, and cold maneuver.

To be continued..............


5 comments:

Seminole Evictions-THE TRUTH said...

Thank you for coming and hearing our pleas. We the residents of Seminole Estates need to get the truth out to the public. The tribe will not be using this land for housing but rather a new and more elaborate Hotel and Casino. The Seminole Estates directly across from us located on the east side of 441 is where they plan on building their so-called housing. Those people are next and they don't even know it yet! We have proof of the Tribes plans for this land. We need the TRUTH TO BE TOLD!!! NOBODY IS LISTENING AND NOBODY CARES BECAUSE THEY DON'T KNOW THE TRUTH....

Kathkath said...

We all owe Jane a great big thank you for coming out to our protest yesterday. She has forwarded this article to some of her connections, and we all need to do the same. Forward it to AARP, the news stations, Help me Howard, Senator Bill Nelson, the Bureau of Indian affairs, the newspapers etc etc! Anyone you can think of! The more people who read this the better our chances of getting someone to help.

sportzbiker said...

The Seminoles are practicing ethnic cleansing. The residents were told their leases with the management company were invalid since the Seminoles had bought out the lease, and were coerced into signing new one-year leases. I don't believe the old leases were invalidated at all. If I were governor of Florida, I would blockade the entrance to the Hard Rock Cafe for "health and safety" reasons" until the Seminoles were more reasonable and fair etwooducin their treatment of these residents.

Giovanni Miconi said...

I think the Seminoles speak with a fork tongue. Was it not they who said at a meeting in March of this year that nothing was going to happen in the near future for the park? Do they have memory problems or what. Do the Seminoles not realize what will happen in the long run. I think it is a real shame to expect everyone to leave with such short notice and also the minimal compensation for the homes. The nice thing that is equal for all of us is that we all DIE. Thank you Lord.

Crystal Adkins said...

Oh, yet another story of unfair park practices. It's an astounding trend these days. Forget the poor, the elderly and the invalid, there's money to be made! Thank you so much for such an in-depth article. I blog at Mobile & Manufactured Home Living and while I have touched a bit on the unfair practices that residents in a park face, I haven't went to far into it. We have lots of work to do to get our politicians to work for us and not for the rich. Thanks for sharing their stories. I suggest ROC-USA and CDI.coop as potential help for the residents. Thanks again for sharing this story!