The eight families remaining in a once-full trailer park in Caroline County are facing eviction. (Photo by Taft Coghill Jr.)

Caroline trailer park residents feel like ‘yesterday’s trash’ after sudden eviction notices

by | May 4, 2024 | ALLFFP, Caroline, Housing

May was supposed to be a celebratory month for Tanya Rowan’s family as the fifth of her six children prepares to graduate from Caroline High School. 

The Rowan family was planning to host a graduation party at their trailer home in the Hill Mobile Home Park, situated between Team Carolina BBQ and the Bowling Green landfill off A.P. Hill Boulevard. 

But plans quickly changed for Rowan earlier this spring when she received an eviction notice. 

“My baby is about to graduate, but she burst into tears because I said we can’t afford [a gathering],” Rowan said. “They can’t enjoy anything right now because they don’t know if they’re going to have a home. That’s tough on a kid.” 

The Rowans are one of the remaining eight families in the once-full mobile home park who are being evicted off the land by Homes of America. The corporation purchased the 9.3 acres in 2021 and has been accused of operating an “eviction mill” in an article by the Minot (North Dakota) Daily News.  

The report noted the company executed 30 evictions in three mobile home parks in Minot during a three-month period in late 2022 and early 2023. 

While those cases were related to nonpayment of rent, Rowan and most of the families in Bowling Green paid off their trailers but still pay lot fees to keep the mobile homes on the land.  

They said they do not owe a balance on the lot fees, but they still have a date in Caroline General District Court on Monday facing eviction due to the expiration of a lease residents said they never received. 

“They kept saying they were bringing a lease,” Rowan said. “In all this time, you’re telling me you can’t bring a lease. Then they’re telling me it was month-to-month. It was not month-to-month.”

The Manufactured Home Lot Rental Act requires owners of mobile home communities to provide a lease, along with a description of the laws in the MHLRA, according to the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society. 

Also, the MHLRA requires a mobile park owner who wants to sell or redevelop the park for another use to provide each resident $2,500 in relocation expenses within six months ($3,500 in Northern Virginia). Payment is subject to an agreement that the resident will move the home from the park.

Some of the Bowling Green residents were given 10 days to move their trailers off the land prior to an April 15 court date but were granted extensions. 

Rowan, who has lived in the community since 2012, said the situation makes her feel like residents are being treated like “yesterday’s trash.”  

She said her monthly disability check isn’t enough to cover the expenses it takes to relocate a trailer, which include a relocation fee of several thousand dollars, permit fees, water and sewer hookup, labor costs and demands to meet county regulations. 

She recently received notice from Virginia Housing that no waiting lists to use a Housing Choice Voucher are currently open. 

“I feel like I’m being invaded,” Rowan said. “Everything is being ripped out. It took me so long to pay the trailer off. So, when I finally pay it off, I’m enjoying it, I’m enjoying watching my kids grow up, my first grandchild is coming. Now, all a sudden I might lose it all and I have nowhere else to go.”  

Caroline County Director of Planning and Community Development Leon Hughes said this week that he is unaware of the plight of the trailer park residents. Deputy County Administrator Alan Partin, who is filling in for County Administrator Charles Culley while Culley is on medical leave, also said he is unaware of the situation. 

Representatives of Scott Kroner, PLC, a Charlottesville-based law firm, acknowledged that the company represents Homes of America, but lawyers did not return calls seeking comment for this story. 

“You cannot reach them,” said Rodney Washington, who grew up in the community and has owned a trailer there for the past 20 years. “These people are untouchable.” 

Homes of America is based in Englewood, New Jersey. Property records indicate they purchased the trailer park land in 2021 from Six-O-Five Mobile Home Group for $203,000.   

Six-O-Five also sold a mobile home park in the Mineral area of Louisa County with approximately 100 trailers to Home of America for $3.7 million during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to a report from VPM News, Homes of America is linked to the hedge fund Alden Global Capital. The VPM report noted that lot fees in Mineral increased by more than 40%, identical to the hike Washington and Rowan said took place in Bowling Green. 

The Mineral residents received help from the Legal Aid Justice Center to fight against the increases, but the Bowling Green residents are battling a different issue: potential homelessness. 

Rowan said if she cannot afford to move, her two-bedroom trailer will be abandoned or demolished. 

“You don’t even put your dogs outside, walk away and leave them out there,” Rowan said. “We’re human.” 

Washington moved to the community when he was 8. His mother has owned a trailer there since the early 1980s. His sister also owns a trailer in the park.  

Washington, who works as a heavy equipment operator for a construction company, said he plans to move his trailer to another part of the county but likely will have to sell some of his belongings to afford the move. He’s concerned about his sister and his mother, who is in her 70s and battling health issues.  

Washington said his young adult son recently returned from the Army and lives with him, along with his dog. He was quoted $6,000 just to relocate the trailer. The longtime construction worker knows that septic and water hookups can approach $20,000. 

Washington, who is diabetic and has high blood pressure, said he is stressed as he attempts to figure out how to relocate and assist his family members with their moves as well.  

“This is playing a big role in my health,” Washington said. “I operate heavy equipment and I’ve got to concentrate every day, every second, when I’m on that machine that I don’t hit a truck or kill somebody. It’s many days, I’ve got to get up and I don’t feel like going. It’s just bad, man.” 

Washington said there remains a strong sense of community in the neighborhood, but many of the trailers have been abandoned. Still, Rowan said Washington and other neighbors are more like family, assisting each other when going through tough times. 

They now have a common cause to rally behind, as they seek solutions for their sudden housing dilemmas. 

“I’ve seen a lot of people come and go from here,” Washington said. “A lot of them have moved on to other places, but we’re still here in the community. We’re trying to do right, but our homes and the community are being stripped away from us. Somebody is just taking advantage of the little people here.” 

Subscribe To Daily News Updates

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news from The Free Press

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This