Mobile home residents running out of options as Dec. 1 rent hike nears

Published: Oct. 12, 2022 at 10:42 PM EDT
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PRINCETON, W.Va. (WVVA) - Mobile home residents in Mercer County grouped up on Wednesday in an attempt to stop what many said were unsustainable rent increases for trailer lots.

The group filled Judge Derek Swope’s courtroom Wednesday evening to take part in a discussion led by Mountain State Justice -- a non-profit law firm with an office in Princeton.

As of Dec. 1, many residents said their rent will nearly double -- set to leave them with no other affordable housing options in winter.

“We can’t afford it. That’s why we live in the mobile home parks. Because the rent is low,” said Margie Shaw.

“It’s putting pressure on people who live in a trailer park and not a fancy housing place. I don’t live in a trailer park because I’m rich, I live there because it’s the only place I can afford,” said Vonda Parks.

Mountain State Justice, a non-profit law firm with an office in Princeton, warned residents on Wednesday that there were little to no protections for lot renters in W.Va..

“What we wanted to do was get information from people to see that there’s action that we can help them with, to talk to them about what consequences might be coming down the road,” said Adam Wolfe, an attorney with Mountain State Justice.

And as it became clear a class-action type of lawsuit would not work in the situation, remaining options for remedy continued to shrink.

“I think it’s time that the government officials that are elected and living in nice homes, step out and do something for us to put a cap on these taxes because we’re not a rich state we’re not rich people,” said Parks.

WVVA asked W.Va. Gov. Jim Justice (R) about the potential rent hike on Monday.

“From the standpoint of private enterprise doing what private enterprise wants to do -- from the standpoint of the governor or government, it’s difficult to get in the middle of that,” said Justice.

And with no solution found on Wednesday, those set to be impacted said they expect a stressful few months ahead.

“It’s coming up on Christmas. They’re raising the rent December first. You’ve got parents with kids, I mean, I’m really frustrated,” said Shaw.

WVVA is working to track down who exactly owns the mobile home parks in question. Legal representatives present on Wednesday said they encountered the same issue however -- similar looking company names, all based in and around the Roanoke area, and no luck in speaking with anyone from the company itself.