Monday, October 1, 2012


Two weeks after an eviction was posted at Seminole Estates Mobile Home Park in Hollywood, Florida, residents are still reeling from the news. Some residents who leave and/or abandon their homes before December 31, 2012 qualify for $3,000 compensation. After January 1, 2013, United Management Corporation will start raising rents on those who stay.

The tribe claims that it is facing a housing shortage and needs land for its people.  People at the park believe that the Tribe has been calculating expansion of its casino and business properties.

Journalists rushed to cover the story when it broke, but have not been back to follow up. Florida politicians, out and about canvasing for votes, either ignore them or say that they can't help. These homeowners are not asking to stay, they are simply asking to be informed, acknowledged and to be treated decently. 

I continue to report on the recent eviction. This Saturday I was joined by good friend, photographer Ginny Dixon

Joan Huck: "There are people in worse circumstances. Some of the older people that have no family and nowhere to go are talking about committing suicide." (Photo: Ginny Dixon)
Joan Huck: "Where am I going to go and where am I going to get the money to get there?" (Photo: Ginny Dixon)
Joan Huck, 69, and her husband Daniel, 72, moved from Massachusetts to Hollywood Estates in 1999. They were planning theirr retirement and liked the mobile home park very much. It was gated, and quiet, and the lease went to 2024. After Wilma, they spent at least $10,000 on repairs and renovations. When she got news of the mobile home park eviction, she was in the middle of putting a new ceiling in the bedroom "It absolutely came out of left field," says Joan who is still in shock and wonders where she will go and how she is going to afford getting there. The only thing Joan knows for sure is that she won't be completing the ceiling.

By the mail room, Carole Vino and Teresa Daeder: "There were rumors. We heard it all, but we didn't believe it."
Doren Hollingsworth: "We were told in March that everything was OK. There was no buzz or gossip and this is a place where gossip is fruitful!"
Joan is not alone.  The park is filled with worry, fear, and that unsettling feeling of abandonment. Residents in the park are hungry for information, assistance, and time. "It's like they're lost. They barely know what's going on," says Doren Hollingsworth who has lived in the park for 9 years. With public gathering spots locked --  the clubhouse, pool, gym etc. -- friends congregate and commiserate in the street, on porches, and in the mail room. The mail room is apparently "the place" especially between 4 and 5:00 pm.

Kathy Maynard: "There is no doubt it was calculated. They did it so they wouldn't have to take calls. The next morning they fenced and locked the amenities. That just added insult to injury!"
It was in the mail room, after all, that news of the eviction broke a little over two weeks ago. It was Friday, September 14th, 2012 at 4:00 PM when a notice was posted in the Seminole Estates mail room. It read:
"In anticipation of the change in use of Tribal lands, formerly known as Seminole Estates, on the Hollywood Seminole Indian Reservation, the Seminole Tribe of Florida will not be renewing any Rental Permits at the mobile home park. Your current Rental Permit will terminate as of December 31, 2012. Subsequent to this date you will be required to vacate the premises and secure other living accommodations."
Lucy Sanchez (left) moved into the park 1 1/2 years ago. Her sister Betsy (center) also bought a house six months later. Gisela Bernal (right) is a paralegal who wants to help.
It was also in the mail room where Lucy Sanchez put up a flyer and called a meeting to order. "We are not asking to stay," she says, "We need more money for our trailers so at least we can go someplace. Just be reasonable." Lucy knows that there is more power in numbers. Joan Huck was inhere as were 50 other people. At the meeting, Lucy announced she would be seeing an attorney today.

Kathy Maynard: "I can't walk away from my house." (Photo: Ginny Dixon)
Many residents with homes too old to move wait and hope for some respectable compensation. Others like Kathy Maynard with younger homes are figuring out affordable ways to relocate. Kathy, who works full-time, has been dialing for a lifeline that won't drain her retirement savings. She seems to have found a lot large enough for her 64'L by 28"W c. 1999 home at Coral Cay in Margate. The only issue now is finding a rental to live in for the three month interim it will take to break down, transport, and tie down her home again. The relocation director at Coral Cay is working with her. Things are looking up for Kathy who owns 11 birds and is beginning to sleep again.

Thank you residents for letting me into your homes lives.


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