Mercer Co. mobile home park tenants hear legal status update in Princeton

Published: May. 16, 2023 at 10:34 PM EDT
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PRINCETON, W.Va. (WVVA) - As a legal battle plays out over rising rent for mobile home tenants in Mercer County, some of those affected came together on Tuesday at Princeton’s Church of God for an update on where things stand.

In the lead-up to Tuesday’s Town Hall meeting, confusion lingered.

“I just don’t know really what I’m supposed to do,” said Regena Murphy, a resident at Shadow Wood Valley Mobile Home Park.

“I’m not exactly sure what strategy they’re using,” said Terri Eanes, another Shadow Wood Valley resident.

Tenants from five mobile home parks in Mercer County however, continued their hunt for answers on Tuesday, in the lead-up to a Wednesday status hearing in court.

“We’re just going to provide people an update on what’s happening,” said Michael Missim-Sabbat, a Senior Attorney with Mountain State Justice. “Obviously court [Wednesday] will give us a little more direction of where the two cases are going.”

A main focus on Tuesday, however, was health permits. Mountain State Justice said if Mercer County’s Health Department doesn’t approve health permits for the five parks in-question by the first of August -- they can’t raise folks’ rent.

As of Tuesday, many tenants were not paying higher rents while the case runs its course in court. For most, rent was set to rise from around $250 per month to more than $500. Some did remain optimistic however.

“I think if we work together as a community and try to be our own advocates, we can lobby and maybe get some attention to the legislature so that they can make changes that can keep this happening to other individuals and maybe put a stop to some of this,” said Valeria Steele, a resident at Elk View Mobile Home Park.

But for others -- fear of an uncertain future for their housing costs remained top-of-line. Especially for those on fixed incomes. That’s along with a mental toll manifesting into physical symptoms for others.

“I used to get chronic migraines from stress and worry,” said Eanes. “For the last two years I haven’t had any. And all of a sudden they’re back.”

“My husband, he doesn’t work, he’s trying to get his disability and so right now it’s just my income, and my mom and my sisters been helping me a bit,” said Murphy. “If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be able to make it.”

A status hearing in court is set for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Mercer County Courthouse.