Mobile home park residents resigned to fate

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About 30 years ago, Gloria Luna’s mother was kicked out of her apartment in San Francisco because a developer was planning to build a much larger, more luxurious building there.

At the time, tenant rights were not as well-established and she and her neighbors — mostly senior citizens — were offered virtually no compensation for their trouble. They “had to fight for every nickel and dime,” Luna said, but ultimately they were given a little money for moving expenses.

With the help of that money, Luna’s mother purchased a mobile home in a small park in South San Francisco, where she would live for 29 years, until she passed away. Little did she suspect at the time she purchased it that one day, after her death, her daughter would be kicked out to make room for a large complex.

“My mom bought this place and wanted to be left alone, but of course nobody leaves you alone in California if you have a place that’s affordable,” Luna said. “If she were still alive, it would have been very traumatic for her — even though they’re being very nice to us.”

The 2-acre Forest Homes Mobile Home Park, just north of South San Francisco High School on El Camino Real, will soon be the site of a 109-unit affordable-housing complex. The project will have 5,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor facing El Camino Real, as well as a playground, community room and computer lab, South City Associate Planner Linda Ajello said.

The project is being built by nonprofit Mid-Peninsula Housing Coalition and has widespread support in the city government since it will help ameliorate the need for more affordable housing in the area.

However, it means displacing the remaining residents of Forest Homes.

In recent years, in preparation for a sale to a developer, residents have been encouraged to move out, and the ones who have left haven’t been replaced. However, there remain about 17 residents in 10 households, many of whom have lived in the homes for decades. Of the 10 households, nine fall in the low-, very low- or extremely low-income categories.

Unlike the experience of Luna’s mother 30 years ago, the residents are — as required by law — being offered compensation: The developer will purchase the homes from them and also provide them with 3½ years of rental assistance.

Luna said that at a meeting last week with the developer and tenants, the tenants were generally not happy about the situation, but were resigned to their fate.

“We were all very concerned that they weren’t going to give us much of anything, but they are, so I think people feel like [the developers] are being fair,” she said. “It’s just that some people are on a really tight budget, like myself, and we’re wondering what happens when our four years [of compensation] runs out.”

Making room for development

Here is what is happening with Forest Homes Mobile Home Park in South San Francisco:

What’s there now: Forest Homes Mobile Home Park, including about 10 households with about 17 residents on a 2-acre property.
A 109-unit mixed-use affordable-housing development.
What the displaced are being offered: Compensation for moving expenses, 42 months of rental assistance and market value for the tenant-owned mobile homes.

Source: South San Francisco

kworth@sfexaminer.com

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