5 Reasons You Need TO Think About Moving into a Mobile Home

Mobile homes aren't what they used to be. It's considered that about 20 million Americans are shacking up in mobile homes. Another 23 percent is just retired, and of that population, 57 percent is fully utilized and living the good life. What gives? When you split it down and take a peek at what these days, a move into a mobile home has to offer, it's not difficult to see why so many Americans are choosing a living that is mobile.

Miniature houses are a matter

Miniature houses are the 21st century, a hipster-approved mobile home alternative that blows the not-so-designerly view of an awful, ramshackle trailer right out of the water. From eco-luxe camping trailers which are completely satisfied to genuine miniature houses which are simply smaller versions of the real price for a full-time dwelling, but on wheels, single- and double-wide are the only choices. To have a great deal contact today to mobile home sales agents.

A commitment probe's dream

If you're over leasing, but the living daylights out of you scare, a trailer could be the perfect compromise. When you give to a house, you give to its upkeep, the property, real estate taxes, and place, also. There's not much can be done about it in a house that's anchored in the earth if you don't enjoy your neighbors or some new development around you. For a not-so-astronomic cost, yet, with a mobile home, you can only pick up and go. Beyond freedom, mobile homes allow you to sidestep much of the new dedication while still letting you be the master of your personal space.

The very best of both worlds

When you decide on a mobile home over an apartment, you save yourself, mad landlords, from common walls, and seedy construction supervisors in one fell swoop while trading up for a lot of the bonuses that traditional houses offer, such as, for instance, a lot. Another bonus is fewer rules than you'll normally locate in a condominium or apartment setting. As an example, if you're a pet proprietor moving to a mobile home makes sense-compared to the creature-prohibition clauses, and sky high pet deposits that most apartments or condominiums demand, mobile homes are a pet lover's heaven.

Just the correct amount of (customizable!) space

Whether you are an interior design buddy with custom home decor dreams you're looking to downsize from an excessive amount of space, the somewhat condensed space that mobile homes offer is essential. They're designed to fit everything you have in a space that is smaller and, thus, offers you the ideal chance to do more with less. In the event, you would like beautiful flooring, or a killer kitchen fits for a chef, realizing those visions is a lot simpler (and more affordable) when you've got less space. There's living proof of- boundless and inspiration for- elegant living on Laird Herbert's Yukon Tiny House and the move, also, like Rebecca Knabe's Trailer Chic Girls website.

Save on cash

Last, but not least, among the key reasons you ought to think about mobile home living is the affordability connected with that. While cost changes based in your place, purchasing a trailer will run you around $30,000- choice and lot rent $70,000 for clocks in at about $200-$300 a month on average in the US. Midrange miniature houses cost a mean of $20,000-$40,000. The savings related to mobile home living are almost too great to pass up for new couples just getting started on the planet, young professionals investing in their careers above their housing, or retirees regarding downsizing their lifestyle to match their retirement reserve better.

Are you as for as we're converted? From youthful Millennials who don't desire to settle down quite yet to those looking to live a life that's an economical and eco-friendly, the notion that living a trailer lifestyle is for individuals who couldn't make another option work is decidedly one of yesteryear. If we needed to bet on it, we'd place our cash on killer mobile homes along with the miniature house move giving a run for its money to conventional home in the not-so-distant future.

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Inexpensive Restorations for Your Mobile Home Remodeling
Mobile home remodeling can make your old mobile home more habitable. These kinds of homes are quite small and it is a tough thing to have a growing family in there. But it doesn't mean that you cannot make it appear more comfortable and attractive with some inexpensive restorations. With a modest budget, some chic ornaments and a creative imagination, you can alter your mobile home into an open and relaxing spot that you and your family would just dearly admire.Since mobile homes are assembled and erected differently than typical residential houses, you should take time in scheduling your home remodeling venture so you will not run into problems later on. You should include in your plans that most mobile homes have a lower ceiling than a ordinary residential unit, so your design and budget cost will have to consider that. Ultimately you have to guarantee that your home will be a restful place of living for you and your family.There are however, loads of things that you can do to in renovating your mobile home. The walls can be customized and a new color of your home can provide it more sense and a classical look. A touch of paint or wallpapers can make your room cheerful and stylish. You can even look for wallpapers just to merge with the colors of your liking with backgrounds that shows open spaces and horizons instead of paintings of interior scenes to establish a feeling of openness to make your home look bigger and to avoid the effect of untidiness and confinement.The bathrooms can be modified with latest fixtures. And since the bathroom is small in most mobile homes, you may want to add some mirrors or alter its colors to make it appear more spacious. The kitchen can be a big component of your home remodeling. With new floor and windows the kitchen would be a nice contemplation. You can also include having a new roof outside and a new siding.Your furniture arrangements also boost much on how well your mobile homes will look and feels. You must select furniture that is cozy but chic in design. Do away with tables and lamps that use greater part of the floor space. Lighting fitted along the walls is serene looking while giving off plenty of light without muddling up the floor. The more open space you have, the more your mobile home will appear spacious and restful.You can even alter your carpet and other floor coverings and add brighter colors to the room for it to look up to date. For kitchen flooring where it may look ruined with constant use, you can find colored rugs to hide discolorations on the floor that can add lots of elegance and panache to your mobile home.With merely a few well thought restorations, you can completely improve the feel of your mobile home and make it more comfortable, relaxed and fun for the family and guests to enjoy.
2021 07 23
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It's All Gone:' Florida Residents Regroup After Irma Passes
Florida residents got a first look of the destruction Irma caused as it swept over the state, leaving virtually no area of the peninsula untouched. Some donned waders to slog through thigh-high water and stuffed bags with all of the belongings they could carry after being forced to leave apartment buildings and mobile homes. Many were shaken by a storm they said was more powerful than they had ever seen.Their stories provide a glimpse into the extensive reach of Irma's wrath:Aide Valadares packed up her belongings Monday after Hurricane Irma ripped the roof off of her apartment complex in Miami.She said water leaked into the top-floor apartments and the ceiling sagged in her one-bedroom unit below.The walls bowed and cracked in the living room, where she had hung prints of her favorite paintings from Colombian painter Fernando Botero, and Spanish artist Diego de Velazquez."You come home. You see this. It's devastating," she said. "The fire department came and said that structurally this is not safe," she said. "It will collapse."Gwen Bush watched from her window early Monday morning as the water rose around her central Florida home. She had been sitting in darkness for hours as she listened to trees snap and water bubble. When it began to seep under her front door, she thought of the scenes of Hurricane Harvey in Texas that she had seen on TV."I was scared to death, I thought I was gonna die," she said. "I can't swim and the water kept rising; it was all the way up to my windows. I actually thought I was not going to live through this. I started praying."Bush saw the National Guard and firefighters outside with boats and big trucks. She grabbed a hurricane kit she'd packed the day before, pushed open the door, and waded through thigh-deep water to reach the rescuers, who took her to a shelter a few miles (kilometers) away.As day broke, she was grateful to be alive - but worried about the future. She had frantically tried to stack her belongings on top of beds and cabinets as the water rushed in, but she assumes she probably lost almost everything in her rented home.Bush, 50, works as a security guard at a sports and music venue in Orlando, and only gets paid when she works. Concerts and shows were canceled in the days leading up to the storm, and she's not sure when she'll be able to get back to work.As the storm closed in, she spent the last $10 she had on food and water. Now she has nothing left but the red sweatsuit she escaped in. Even her shoes were ruined by the water and muck."How are we gonna survive from here?" she said. "What's going to happen now? I just don't know."Robert Hickok, a 51-year-old commercial fisherman, spent hours stranded in his truck on a bridge amid fast-rising waters as he tried to leave Plantation Island.He decided to ride out the storm on the island, where he's lived for about four years, and sat tight through hours of rain and wind and flying debris. He was relieved when things became calm in the wee hours of Monday morning."It got real calm, you know," he said in a phone interview. "The rain let up and it quit blowing and I was still on the island and I thought it was all over."But when he looked out the window 30 or 45 minutes later, the road was covered with water. As he watched, it began rising fast. He immediately got in his truck, but by the time he'd driven roughly a mile to the bridge, it was too late. Everglades City, on the other side of the bridge, was flooded and there was nowhere to go."Thank God the bridge was there," he said. "If the bridge wasn't there, it'd have been bad."He hunkered down in his truck and hoped the water wouldn't rise any higher. At daybreak, the water began to recede and he was able to drive off the island.He returned to his home around midday Monday to find it destroyed."It's all gone. It's a total loss," he said. "The trailer, boat, car, everything."Ken Christian woke up at 5 a.m. Monday and saw water an inch below his door in the San Marco district near the St. Johns River in Jacksonville."I laid back down, and 30 minutes later, there was 3 inches in the apartment. At one point it got up to 3 feet. We got all the canned good we could and got out," he said.The National Weather Service said the storm surge from Irma broke the flooding record in Jacksonville previously set by Hurricane Dora in 1964. It hit particularly hard along both shores of the St. Johns River that cuts through downtown.Water was 4 feet deep in the three blocks of houses and apartments leading to the river. One man used his daughter's surfboard to paddle along streets to check out the damage.Another man, Darin Van Gundy, waded through the streets to check on friends. He woke up at 6:30 a.m. to find water creeping up to his door. Within a few hours, the bottom floor of his two-story apartment had 4 feet of water."We lost some art we never imagined we could lose because we brought it up 4 feet, and it crested at 5 feet in spots," he said.Laura Keeney, of Key West, had her pet bird with her in a hotel lobby in Miami."He has been making so much noise in the room," said Keeney, who works as a concierge at the Hyatt in Key West.She said that her apartment manager told her that her unit had flooded, but she didn't know the extent of the damage."They told me 'there is definitely water in the downstairs apartment,' which is me," she said.Her pet bird, a blue macaw named Odie, chuckled."He is laughing at the most inopportune moments," she said.___WORSE THAN ANDREWWest of Miami, in Sweetwater, the din of chainsaws and generators filled the Monday morning air. Irma's floodwaters had inundated streets and lapped at people's doors as the storm stomped through, but mostly receded a day later.Fallen trees lined streets along with cars that got stuck in floodwaters. On the town's main drag, weary-eyed residents cleared branches, while city trucks with giant metal claws plucked away bigger debris.Jesus Castillo, 50, said at least a foot (0.30 meters) of water pooled outside his home. "My entire patio was underwater," he said.Around the corner, a group of friends helped a woman clear a large tree that had splintered like a toothpick. Over the backyard fence, 62-year-old Bayardo Perez wrestled with a mangled tin shed roof. He has lived in the house for decades and carries memories of previous storms."This one was worse than Andrew for me," he said, finally getting the crumpled roof free and walking off to throw it on a pile of debris.___SWAMPED BUT RESILIENTIn Bonita Springs, on the Gulf Coast south of Fort Myers, Kelly McClenthen and her boyfriend, Daniel Harrison, put on waders to enter her neighborhood Monday and they needed them: About 5 feet (1.5 meters) of river water stood under her home, which is on stilts.The main living area was fine, she said, but everything on the ground level was destroyed."My washer and dryer are floating around in my utility room," she said.The same area flooded during a storm about two weeks ago, Harrison said, and that cleanup was still a work in progress.Now they'll start over."We weathered it out. We've got a lot of damage, a lot of cleanup. But we'll get through it. No doubt," said Harrison.___SEEKING SHELTER AND TRYING TO KEEP DRYAt Germain Arena in Estero, south of Fort Myers, where thousands sought shelter from the storm, people sat amid puddles on the concrete floor Monday morning. Rainwater leaked at the height of the storm."Irma went over and we were all like, 'Oh good, we survived.' And then all of a sudden, some of the panels came off the roof, I guess, and we started getting water pouring down in different places," said evacuee Mary Fitzgerald, 61. "It was like, 'Oh my God, what is going to happen?'"The water stopped coming in after the eyewall passed, and people were streaming out to go check on their homes as the sun came up.___'I'M NOT LIVING HERE'Larry Dimas and his wife, Elida Dimas, live in Immokalee, in inland Florida town about 40 miles (65 kilometers) northeast of Naples where entire areas were flooded.The Dimases lost part of the roof of their mobile home to Irma, and one wall wobbled to the touch.Cars and trucks drove slowly through a main intersection Monday to avoid causing wakes next to homes and businesses. Kids rode bikes on streets covered in water.Larry Dimas said damage from Irma won't be easy to overcome in a town whose population is composed mainly of migrants and blue-collar workers."They just go to work and come home. Something like this happens and it's just ...," Dimas said, pausing and turning around to keep his emotions in check.Dimas said it's still OK to live in his mobile home, but his wife disagrees."He wants to, but I'm not living here," she said.___'I'M GOING TO GET THERE'Joseph McCord in Jacksonville would have probably not taken the hurricane barreling toward Florida too seriously.But he grew up in Beaumont, Texas, and lived there most of his life, and a few weeks ago his parents' home was ruined by Hurricane Harvey. They lost everything."So I thought, I'm not taking any chances with this one," said McCord, who moved to Jacksonville two years ago.He piled everything in his car and drove it to his work on high ground, where he had to stay all night to wait out the storm.It was good that he did: he came back home to find his whole neighborhood of San Marco under water - the worst flood in Jacksonville in a century. It was one of several Jacksonville neighborhoods overtaken by rushing water from the St. Johns River and its tributaries as Hurricane Irma took its final lick at Florida.Search and rescue teams pulled people from their homes. Residents circled the streets in kayaks and canoes, as trash, shoes, furniture, lamp shades bobbed by.The water receded from McCord's house, though the surrounding streets remain under the flood. He tried to get home, but a police officer told him not to even try, that he'd get stuck there and they'll have to rescue him."I'm going to get there," he declared and marched on.___A NEW HOME, LEFT BEHINDFelicia Clark and Johnny Thompson spent Saturday moving into their new house in St. Petersburg, on Florida's Gulf Coast. After a long day, with forecasts showing that Irma was headed their way, they decided to leave it behind.They packed some clothes and toiletries and hopped in the car around 1 a.m. Sunday with their two dogs, Gracie and Roscoe. They headed north, making it all the way to downtown Atlanta before they found a hotel with rooms available.Caught in traffic with others who'd decided to flee the storm, the drive that should have taken about seven hours took more than 14.They've spent much of their time in Atlanta watching storm coverage on television. When Thompson took the dogs out for a walk in nearby Centennial Olympic Park on Sunday night, he met numerous other evacuated Florida residents.Clark and Thompson were worried about their new home, but word finally arrived from family members who stayed behind.Some tree limbs fell in their yard, but the house wasn't damaged.___Associated Press writers Jay Reeves in Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida; Claire Galofaro in Windermere, Florida; Jason Dearen in Sweetwater, Florida; Adriana Gomez Licon in Miami; Doug Ferguson in Jacksonville, Florida; and Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.___HURRICANE NEWSLETTER - Get the best of the AP's all-formats reporting on Irma and Harvey in your inbox:
2021 07 23
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Making a Home for Manufactured Housing
Imagine if cars were built like houses.One day, sheets of steel arrive on site for metal workers to cut and weld in the rain. Wheels show up, but unfortunately, the axle installer is sick so they are left lying around. Rolls of vinyl for the seats are delivered, but that installer is delayed because of an accident on the Second Narrows Bridge. You get the picture.I thought about the differences between building cars and houses on a recent tour of a Kelowna manufactured housing factory organized as part of the 2017 Manufactured Housing Association of British Columbia's annual conference. I was invited to offer the perspective of an architect and developer on factory-built housing to an audience comprising manufacturers, dealers, transporters and government officials.I have had a longstanding interest in manufactured housing dating back to 1970 when I was one of seven architectural students from across Canada to win a CMHC travelling scholarship. Our travels took us across the U.S. with guide Warren Chalk, one of the founding members of Archigram, an avant-garde 1960s British architectural group, with projects that included Plug-in-City, a massive framework into which modular dwellings could be slotted and removed.For six weeks, we toured mobile home parks and housing factories on a government initiative to promote manufactured housing on a major scale.In my university thesis, I focused on a factory-produced relocatable housing system, and proposed that just as schools set up portable classrooms, governments could install modular housing on vacant lots. This could then be relocated when the property was needed for redevelopment, effectively eliminating the cost of land.That interest continued after I joined CMHC in Vancouver as assistant architect/planner for CMHC. In the mid Seventies, CMHC was building seniors' housing around the province and I proposed factory-production for smaller communities. Soon, modular housing was delivered and assembled in Keremeos and Chase.Today, BC Housing continues to build seniors' housing projects in smaller communities using factory-built modular housing.In recent years, BC Housing and the City of Vancouver undertook a feasibility study of a concept to promote relocatable modular housing as an alternative to housing people in shelters. A team led by NSDA Architects and housing manufacturers Britco and Shelter Industries examined technical issues and costs associated with building, setting up and relocating private sleeping rooms and bathrooms.Recently, the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency, with financial support from CMHC, completed a factory-built modular housing demonstration project at Main Street and Terminal. The modules will be relocated in a few years when the site is ready for redevelopment. Hopefully, other vacant sites around the region will be similarly used.Throughout B.C. today, thousands of attractive permanent homes are being built in factories. Companies such as Triple M, Moduline, SRI and many other manufacturing plants are constantly improving assembly-line procedures to build complete homes in days, rather than weeks or months.By building in climate-controlled settings, workers are not dealing with rain or snow. Waste is considerably reduced, and consequently factory-builthomes are cost-effective, environmentally smart, and able to be customized as on-site construction. For this reason, many of the PNE show homes have been built using modular construction.At the Kelowna conference, I learned there are two basic types of factory-built housing: manufactured homes and modular-built homes.Manufactured homes are typically constructed on a steel frame in one or two sections and are virtually complete when they leave the factory. Thus, they are ready for move-in the same day or a few days after arriving on the site. These homes can be installed on simple foundations and even relocated, although most are never moved from their original site.Modular-built homes do not have a steel frame. A typical bungalow consists of one or two modules, while multi-storey homes or buildings are created with multiple modules. These homes are typically set on full-perimeter foundations with a crawl space or even a full basement.Insulation, air/vapour barrier, plumbing, wiring, exterior siding and other construction details are largely completed in the factory. Interior work, including drywall, trim, flooring, cabinets and bathroom fixtures, is usually well advanced. Finishing the home on site can include adding pitched roofs, and an attached garage or stone facing. This generally takes a couple of weeks.While I am surprised that factory-produced housing is not more popular in Canada, expect this to change, since it is cost-effective, energy- and resource-efficient, and well suited to a variety of housing forms. It could be an affordable solution for infill and laneway housing, and multi-storey apartments.Imagine if houses were built like cars.
2021 07 23
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State Cracks Down on Mobile Home Sales Firm : Housing: the Santa Clarita Company's License Is Revoke
Debra Meade might as well have thrown her $5,000 into the trash.Seven months after putting a down payment on a trailer owned by Classic Mobile Homes of Santa Clarita, Meade, a single mother with two children, has nothing to show for it."That money is history, and I still don't own a house," said Meade, 39, an insurance underwriter who rents a house in Santa Clarita.Prompted by complaints from Meade and two other mobile-home buyers, state housing officials have revoked Classic's mobile-home sales license and will ask the Los Angeles County district attorney's office to prosecute owner Gina Egyed on fraud charges, said Kymberly Pipkin, an attorney for the state Department of Housing and Community Development.Egyed ran the mobile home dealership out of a Newhall office building with the help of her mother and a sister. Both previously had their sales licenses revoked by the state, the mother for defrauding customers and the sister for stealing from a department store, Pipkin said.Egyed could not be reached for comment.The agency has revoked or suspended the licenses of only about 24 of the more than 750 mobile-home dealers in the state in the past three years, Pipkin said. But it has a backlog of about 1,000 complaints because of a shortage of investigators, she said."There is a lot of potential for fraud in this business because people who buy mobile homes tend to be relatively unsophisticated, either first-time buyers or people who don't speak English or who are on fixed incomes," Pipkin said. "Those are the kinds of people Classic duped."Meade and others who lost their down payments or never received services they paid for from Classic may be reimbursed up to $40,000 through the state's Mobile Home Recovery Fund. The $1.7 million now in the fund comes from fees paid by licensees and from transfer fees on the sale of mobile homes.But to qualify for reimbursement, victims must first obtain a civil court judgment in their favor, often a lengthy and expensive process, Pipkin said. Then they are required to demonstrate that they attempted to recoup their losses from the seller, she said.Meade, who is suing Classic, isn't optimistic about getting her nest egg back quickly, if at all."I'll be renting for quite a while," she said.The Classic saga begins in 1988, when the state revoked the sales license of Catherine Walker, the matriarch of the family business, Pipkin said. Walker and other members of her family who worked for Classic could not be reached for comment.Walker lost her license because "she was found to have been regularly cheating people out of their money" while working in 1986 as a salesperson for the now-defunct Buy-rite Mobile Homes of Canyon Country, Pipkin said.In one case, Pipkin said, Walker sold a mobile home that had been repossessed by Security Pacific Bank, and kept $14,000 by lying to the bank about the true sales price."She made out like a bandit," Pipkin said.But Walker did not face criminal charges because "banks are very reluctant to say they have been had," Pipkin said.In the meantime, one of Walker's daughters, Gina Egyed, obtained a dealer's license by taking six hours of classes and passing a state exam. She opened Classic Mobile Homes in January, 1987. Pipkin estimated that the dealership did a fairly brisk business, selling about 100 units annually.Walker began working at Classic immediately after her license was revoked, in violation of state law, according to a February, 1991, report by an administrative law judge for the state housing department. But she was careful at first not to sign any sales documents filed with the state, Pipkin said.By the beginning of 1989, two of Walker's daughters, Reina Egyed and Elizabeth Walker, had lost their licenses to sell mobile homes after being convicted of petty theft in two separate incidents, Pipkin said.Reina Egyed continued to work for Classic illegally after being convicted in Van Nuys Municipal Court in June, 1988, of shoplifting merchandise from a Nordstrom department store, according to the judge's report.A month after Reina Egyed was convicted, Jamie and Scott Snellings of Acton gave notice on their rented house and put a $2,500 down payment on a brand-new $64,000 mobile home from Classic. They also purchased an upgraded appliance package, including a side-by-side refrigerator and a swamp cooler for the double-wide trailer.To close the deal, Catherine Walker let the Snellings live in a house that she owned in Acton while their mobile home was shipped and assembled. But when the couple finally moved into the Acton Country Mobile Home Park in the fall, much of the work on the trailer had not been done, according to the administrative report. Among other things, the swamp cooler hadn't been installed, the doors were improperly hung and the kitchen contained a smaller refrigerator than the one the Snellings had bought.At first, the Snellings, a young couple from a North Carolina town of 500 residents, were gracious about the problems. They agreed to pay $500 extra for the beige refrigerator in their kitchen, although it was included in the original purchase price of the mobile home, the judge's report said.They finally complained to the state last May after calling Classic more than 60 times and still not getting all the work done, according to phone records."We thought they were our friends at first--we should have known they were too nice," said Jamie Snellings, a 28-year-old nurse.But the state did not immediately begin investigating Classic because it had a backlog of more serious complaints than the Snellings', Pipkin said. Normally, it takes five to six months to get an administrative hearing date on a complaint, she said.The investigation was expedited, however, when Meade, the single mother, complained that Classic refused to return her $5,000 down payment.Then, "it was apparent that the public was in jeopardy from Classic," Pipkin said.Shortly after Meade complained, the state heard from another Classic customer, Leticia Mateo, a Santa Clarita teen-ager who had tried to help her Spanish-speaking parents buy a mobile home.Her parents, Faustino and Juana Mateo, who could not be reached for comment, gave Classic an $8,100 down payment on an 8-year-old, $48,000 mobile home. Classic never deposited the money into an escrow account and refused to refund the couple's money when Bank of America denied their loan application, the judge's report said.After completing its investigation, the state took the unusual step of suspending Classic's license in January before a hearing was held, because of potential economic harm to consumers. After the hearing, Gina Egyed's dealer's license was permanently revoked last month.TIPS FOR MOBILE HOME BUYERS * Make sure the dealer and salespeople are licensed. State law requires them to prominently display their licenses on a wall. * Insist upon making your down payment check payable to the escrow company directly, rather than to the dealer. State law requires the dealer to deposit the down payment in an escrow account within three days. * If you are buying a used mobile home through a dealer, make sure the owner of the trailer signs a copy of your "offer to purchase." Otherwise, you could end up paying far more than the seller's price, with the dealer pocketing the difference. * Never sign any blank documents and get a copy of everything you sign. * If you have been defrauded, the state may be able to reimburse you for up to $40,000 of your losses through the Mobile Home Recovery Fund. For more information, call (800) 952-5275.
2021 07 22
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Local Elections / Mayor of Anaheim : Ex-cop still Likes the Action Hot and Heavy : Incumbent: Loud a
Fred Hunter had just settled into his soft leather chair when he was up again, stabbing at the air, talking trash about his days on the Anaheim police force."We would bust a couple (homosexuals), bust a couple whores, then buy some dope and I would get up the next morning and preach," said the former Church of Christ preacher, using a derogatory term for homosexuals that he said he used as a policeman but would not use today.Only moments earlier, Hunter had been out on the street where his pace had quickened, his mood darkened and the objects of his discontent were the apartment buildings ringing his restored offices on the shady corner of Broadway and Philadelphia."Look at this!" he called out to his trailing guest, whirling to change direction. "Look at this crap! Look! Look! Look! I don't know how many goddamn places are like this." Advertisement "Who pays for all this?" he asked, continuing a flurry of movement. "We do. These apartment buildings are a breeding area for crime. It gets pretty rough down here at night. But nobody fools with me, because they know I'm the mayor."And so it is. This guy with the carefully coiffed head of silver-streaked hair--tough-talking former undercover cop, animated preacher and personal injury attorney--who madly marched through a downtown back alley last week is the mayor of Anaheim.For all of those reasons, there are a good number of voters in Orange County's second-largest city who want to return him to office for a second term next month. They find his bluntness refreshing, even when it could cause him political problems.For all the same reasons, there are those who hope he loses. Advertisement In Anaheim, it seems, you either love Fred Hunter and support him or publicly work against him, secretly rooting for him just the same."Hunter is a lot of fun," said Anaheim realtor Joe White. "He's got a good personality, and he's a pretty fair politician. He doesn't try to get along with anybody too much. He doesn't feel like he has to kneel down to anyone. Fred pretty much does what he wants to."That wildcatting spirit is what attracts White to Hunter's campaign, so much so that White, a longtime Democrat in conservative Orange County, is throwing his support to the Republican incumbent in his race against Democrat Irv Pickler."He (Hunter) fits Orange County," said Anaheim Councilman Tom Daly, who is supporting Pickler. "He's not that far out of step with folks in Anaheim. He tells them what they want to hear."Hunter, 48, brashly predicts he will clobber Pickler on Election Day, even though Pickler is expected to raise far more than the incumbent's $100,000 contribution goal.The mayor boasts that an army of grass-roots supporters--including the rank and file of the city's fire and police associations, municipal workers and residents of Anaheim's mobile home park communities--will carry him to a 2 to 1 margin of victory.However, there are those who remember similar boasts two years ago when Hunter squeaked out a 1,392-vote victory over the same opponent.This time, Hunter's opponents also have a record to consider, which includes a number of stands on controversial issues that threaten to cut into the incumbent's popularity. Advertisement One of them is rent control. Hunter is supporting a plan for rent control initiatives in local mobile home communities. This is happening in a city where former Mayor John Seymour, now a state senator, once served as president of the California Assn. of Realtors.Hunter knows that position will likely cost him campaign contributions and support of the city's business community, but he's taking the risk. He talks about how the initiative would help the "little people." He also knows, though, that cultivating the support of an active voting bloc such as the mobile home residents could mean between 4,000 and 7,000 votes in the bank, according to his estimates.Other words the mayor likes to use these days include "down-zoning." Aligning himself with Anaheim neighborhood groups, Hunter says he's joining their efforts to protect Anaheim's quickly vanishing landscape from builders of apartment complexes, like the ones that surround his law offices."This city has 30,000 apartment units in it," Hunter said scornfully. "It is a haven for developers, because we've had weak-kneed, milquetoast politicians deciding the issues. When are we going to say no?"There were houses here once. How about you people in Huntington Beach, Yorba Linda--why do we have all the apartments?"Hunter's most recent encounter with controversy came just a few weeks ago when he unexpectedly changed his mind and voted for a shorter moratorium on building in the Disneyland area.His initial decision to support a 90-day building ban went against a city staff recommendation and rankled his colleagues. It also was out of step with the Disney Development Co., which has proposed a second theme park in Anaheim and had supported a one-year building freeze. Hunter later reversed his position."I'm not sure Fred really thought through the implications of what he was doing," Daly said of the mayor's vote. "Fred has done some of that, but then sometimes he really puts his foot in it and the rest of us grind our teeth in embarrassment." Advertisement Some say Hunter's actions have contributed to what is generally considered a fractured City Council, with Hunter and Councilman William D. Ehrle on one side; Pickler and Councilwoman Miriam Kaywood are on the other, leaving Daly as the swing vote.A battle over the selection of a new city manager in March led Hunter to the district attorney's office, where he formally accused Pickler, Kaywood and Daly of conducting an illegal meeting, a violation of the state's Brown Act, to select a preferred candidate. The district attorney's office announced Thursday that there was insufficient evidence to act on Hunter's allegations.One of the few things Hunter and Pickler have been able to agree on is the city's effort to keep a proposed 7,000-bed regional jail facility and a dump site out of Gypsum Canyon and the collective view of Anaheim Hills residents.The mayor's views on the jail seem out of character considering his heavy leanings toward law-and-order issues. He says crime, specifically illegal drugs, is the "No. 1 issue in Anaheim."But not even the fight against illegal drugs has gone without some political drama. Last spring, the mayor formed an organization called "Hunter's Brigade," which attempts to incorporate public figures in talks to school children about drug abuse.Anaheim City School District officials have since shut their doors to Hunter's crusade because of what they described as the program's "political overtones.""He (Hunter) tends to view things from an 'us versus them' mentality," Daly said. "I don't see him working to bring people together very often and that disappoints me. But that's Fred's personality."Daly and Pickler believe Hunter is beholden to his "political clients"--police officers, firefighters, union workers and mobile home residents, an odd alliance given all the comfortable accouterments of his personal life.Hunter, married and twice-divorced father of four, claims to take home "$300,000 to $400,000" a year from his legal practice. His home is located on what he describes as the "best street" in the upscale Anaheim Hills section of the city. Yet, he likes to think and act in the role of underdog--like the cop of old who used to roam the downtown streets at night looking for a bad guy to bust.He is most comfortable talking about those days between 1965 and 1975 when he admits "bending rules" to get his way."Yes, I would use creative ways to get around the search-and-seizure rules," he said. "I used intelligent ways to beat the system. I used to use honeys a lot--girls, women."He said women were used to lure suspects out into the open so that he and his partners were no longer restrained by search-and-seizure regulations."If I bent the rules, that's how I did it. The guys who worked with me know what I'm talking about. Sometimes, I raised eyebrows."Hunter's former police partner in Anaheim, William Essex, recalled that Hunter possessed skills that allowed him to "get down and dirty with a heroin addict," smooth-talk the women and draw the praise of senior citizens."A lot of it was because we were younger," said Essex, now chief of security at the University of California at Davis. "We would stretch things a lot, and we would get burned for it."He also remembers the dead times on the street when in between calls Hunter would pull out index cards to study for classes at Western State College of Law. Hunter never earned an undergraduate degree. He started his legal practice in 1975 after graduating from law school in 1974."He'll always be controversial," Essex said. "He does things pretty much the way Fred Hunter wants to. Now he's mayor. It's amazing what can happen in this world."Although the mayor is full of predictions about how badly he plans to beat Pickler, there is one thing that seems to concern him.He believes the Pickler campaign is planning to bash him with allegations of a drinking problem. He said the allegation reportedly stems from a late-night telephone call he made to a local reporter from his Washington hotel room in March, 1989. During the conversation he accused Pickler of a misapplication of city funds. The charge was later shown to be unfounded.Hunter claims he "made a mistake" by talking to a reporter after he had been drinking, but he expects Pickler's campaign to make it an issue."I have never had a drinking problem," Hunter said. "I've been here 25 years, I have a wife and four kids. Name one person who has ever seen Fred Hunter drunk."Harvey Englander, Pickler's political consultant, declined to say whether his candidate planned to make Hunter's personal behavior an issue. But Englander did confirm the campaign has been gathering information in a general survey that includes questions about the mayor's behavior and how it relates to the use of alcohol.Hunter refers to Englander as "the scumball of the earth.""I fully expect that to come out," the mayor said of the 1989 incident. "This is gossip to take down Fred Hunter."Unlike his days on the police force, Hunter said, he is taking the "high road" on his own campaign and is running a clean campaign."I'm coming right up the middle, just like the Green Bay Packers," Hunter said. "You, Irv Pickler! You rich developers! Look out!"
2021 07 22
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RV Campgrounds in Albuquerque
Located in the heart of New Mexico, the city of Albuquerque is the state's largest city and a major cultural center in the American Southwest. Framed by the Sandia Mountains, Albuquerque is home to major attractions such as Tingley Beach, the Sandia Peak Ski Area and the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Visitors to the city will find no shortage of RV campgrounds, many of which allow easy access to outdoor attractions.Situated in the northern region of the Chihuahuan Desert in central New Mexico, Albuquerque is a desert city that is defined by the presence of the Rio Grande and the towering Sandia mountains. Albuquerque has a high elevation that ranges between 900 feet above sea level to more than 6,700 feet. The climate of the city is arid, with dry, sunny days most of the year and short, chilly winters that occasionally blanket the city in snow.Albuquerque offers RV parks such as the Enchanted Trails Camping Resort and the Albuquerque Central KOA. The Enchanted Trails Camping Resort is a 135-site full hookup park that offers a gift shop, restrooms and showers and a pool. Situated just to the west of Albuquerque, the park is located on a hill with lots of trees. The Albuquerque Central KOA is a 182-site campground that contains a pool, restrooms and showers, and a camping supply store stocked with RV supplies and snacks. Full hookups are available, including wireless Internet.Active military personnel and veterans have access to the Kirtland Air Force Base FamCamp, a 72-site military campground located in East Albuquerque. The campground offers spacious pull-through RV sites suitable for big rigs, with 20-, 30- or 50-amp electric hookups, water and sewer. Sites vary between concrete and gravel, and all sites are first-come, first-served. Amenities are basic, and include laundry facilities, restrooms and showers. Wireless Internet is available in some areas of the park.Albuquerque has several mobile home parks that also welcome RVs. A gated community, Coronado Village offers daily, weekly and monthly rates for back-in RV sites. Visitors have access to full hookups, and amenities such as a clubhouse, pool and jacuzzi. El Rancho Mobile Home Park also offers full hook up RV sites, and many sites are naturally shaded by trees. The park is situated within easy access to I-40, and is just a quick drive away from Old Town Albuquerque and the New Mexico State Fairgrounds.Albuquerque offers extensive hiking opportunities. Visitors can try the brief, half-mile Mesa Point Trail, which leads past rocks adorned with petroglyphs to views of extinct volcanoes and the Rio Grande River, or the more challenging 10K North Trail, a six-and-a-half-mile trail that showcases the east side of the Sandia Mountains. The trail to Jemez Falls, located near Albuquerque in Jemez Springs, is a one-mile trail that leads to scenic views of the waterfalls and a shallow wading pond.Michelle Wishhart is a writer based in Portland, Ore. She has been writing professionally since 2005, starting with her position as a staff arts writer for City on a Hill Press, an alternative weekly newspaper in Santa Cruz, Calif. An avid gardener, Wishhart worked as a Wholesale Nursery Grower at Encinal Nursery for two years. Wishhart holds a Bachelor of Arts in fine arts and English literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
2021 07 19
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Wheels Turning at Mobile Home Parks in O.c.
Among the residents of Sierra Mobile Homes Estates, Gerie Kirkpatrick is known as the Rose Lady.In front of the blue-and-white home that Kirkpatrick and her husband bought in 1982, she cultivates 18 rose bushes that bloom in yellow, pink and white. Scissors hang from a small wooden sign hand-painted with the words, "Help yourself to a rose." Her neighbors at the 230-home park often do--and no one steals the scissors.Kirkpatrick, now a widow and retired, owns her Huntington Beach mobile home, but she doesn't own the rose garden. And because of escalating rental rates for spaces in the park, she says, keeping the home itself is becoming difficult."We thought we did such a smart thing when we moved in here, thinking it was a good, affordable place to retire," Kirkpatrick said. "Then we were hit with rent increases. People are walking away from their trailers, and they are going back to the banks." Advertisement The rent on Kirkpatrick's space in Sierra Mobile Homes Estates has climbed to $488 a month from $220 six years ago, she said. That is in addition to her monthly payment of $429 on her home. Squeezed by such increases, a growing number of California's mobile home dwellers, estimated to total more than 1 million, say they are being forced out.Facing that prospect, many are taking advantage of state laws that encourage them to band together and buy the property on which their homes sit. Besides gaining control of rental rates, residents who own their parks can set policies and regulations, pool their money to improve common areas and build equity that they can cash in if they decide to sell their mobile homes.Local governments are getting involved, too, especially in urban areas like Orange and Los Angeles counties, to preserve mobile home parks as affordable housing for elderly people such as Kirkpatrick who live on fixed incomes and for young, lower-income families.California's mobile home population has changed dramatically in the past 30 years. During the 1960s, most park residents were elderly people who bought homes for as little as $15,000, often paying cash for them after retiring and selling conventional houses. Advertisement During the real estate boom of the 1980s, working families priced out of the housing market began moving into the parks. Driven by consumer demand, mobile home prices soared.In the economic downturn and housing industry slump that followed, however, many of those working people lost their jobs. At the same time, the value of their mobile homes sank because of depreciation and the real estate decline. Homes for which families had paid between $50,000 and $80,000 were bringing only $20,000 to $30,000 as resales, according to the Manufactured Housing Educational Trust, a trade group based in Orange County.At the same time, rent on spaces in parks began increasing. Sites that rented for $250 a month in the mid-1980s now range as high as $1,000 in coastal areas and average about $500, according to the trade group.As early as 1986, the state launched a program that made low-interest loans available to park residents. Of the estimated 4,000 mobile home parks in California, only about 120 so far have converted to resident-owned parks--knows as ROPs. But interest is increasing sharply, said John Tennyson, chief consultant with the state Senate Select Committee on Mobile Homes."Rents are going to continue to go up," said Tennyson, whose committee has published a pamphlet titled Guide to Mobilehome Park Purchases by Residents. "That's the biggest issue driving the trend toward park ownership."This month, an intergovernmental agency created by the California State Assn. of Counties and the League of California Cities will mail out brochures for a new program called "MuniHome." Under the program, the agency, which has sold various types of bonds since the 1980s, will offer tax-exempt revenue bonds for cities, counties or nonprofit groups such as mobile home residents who can then use the proceeds to buy the parks. New York investment bank Lazard Freres & Co. has been chosen to sell the bonds, which will be paid off with park operating revenue."We want to help cities and counties who are interested in preserving existing low-income housing stock," said Dan Harrison, assistant director with the cities league in Sacramento. "It's a tough decision for a city or county to acquire a mobile home park. We're not saying they should. But if they make that decision, we want to help them do it well."Beyond seeking to ensure affordable housing, local governments are sometimes getting into the mobile home park market after being drawn into disputes between park owners and tenants. Advertisement In the Ventura County, which has 23,136 mobile home residents, the Santa Paula City Council was besieged two years ago by angry tenants who alleged rent gouging by park owners. City voters subsequently passed a measure that tightened rent-control laws already in effect. But the owner of one mobile home park then sued the city, alleging that the new regulations interfered with his ability to make a profit.James Taylor, owner of the Santa Paula West Mobilehome Park, withdrew his lawsuit after agreeing to sell the property to the residents for $9.2 million. The city has agreed to supply housing redevelopment bond money, but the purchase has not been finalized because park residents say the price is too high.Interest by either a city or a residents' group in buying a park does not guarantee a done deal. In some cases, park owners are simply not interested in selling.Gene Pica, an owner of Sierra Mobile Home Estates where Kirkpatrick lives, said the Huntington Beach property is profitable, and "our rents are right where they should be. We're just a mile and a half from the ocean.""If we do sell, we'll give them first choice," Pica said of the park's residents, who have formed a nonprofit group, the Sierra Residents Corp. State law, in fact, requires park owners to notify residents first before putting the property up for sale.But for now, Pica said, "we're just not selling."Other park owners complain that tenant groups who want to buy them out are either poorly organized or cannot obtain financing."The ideal buyer is the tenant," said Richard Hall, a Costa Mesa businessman who is a part-owner of Orange County's largest mobile home park: the 29-acre Treasure Island Mobile Home Park on the oceanfront at Laguna Beach. "But they don't have their act together." Advertisement Other park owners say they feel pressured to sell once residents announce their interest in buying."I think if an owner wants to sell to the residents, that's fine, but they shouldn't be forced to," said Norman McAdoo, a partner with Busch, Carr, McAdoo in Garden Grove, which owns five mobile home parks in Orange County. "Everyone wants to live in Orange County--it's California's paradise. (Park) residents are complaining about rents, but nowhere else in Orange County could you get a decent place to live for those prices."Such different viewpoints can be an obstacle when residents sit down to negotiate a purchase, said Gerald Gibbs, a lawyer with Gibbs, Dunham & Gibbs. The firm, based in San Clemente, specializes in resident-owned parks."In many parks, the residents are pitted against the owners over issues like rent and rent control," he said. The owners "resent the fact that these homeowners have banded together and screamed and yelled and got the city to go along with them in terms of financing."Despite the obstacles, at least two Orange County cities, Garden Grove and La Habra, have already bought mobile home parks with money raised by issuing a total of $35 million in tax-exempt bonds.In Los Angeles County, which has nearly 105,000 mobile home dwellers, the city of Lancaster has used redevelopment funds to purchase two parks and is negotiating to buy several more of the 33 parks within the city limits.Several deals have been completed in recent months, too, by nonprofit residents' groups. In December, for example, the 268 dwellers in the Bayside Village Mobile Home Park in Newport Beach purchased a 279-slip marina and the 56 acres under their homes from the Irvine Co. for $12 million.Other park purchases are being negotiated. In January, mobile home owners in Lake Forest asked that city to co-sign a $6-million loan so they can buy the lease on Kimberly Gardens Mobile Home Park, where 1,300 people live.Industry consultants and even park owners foresee an increasing number of the state's mobile home communities being run as nonprofit entities."The whole status of mobile home parks in California is going to change in the next decade, with most of them becoming owned by tenants and cities," said Laguna Beach park owner Hall. "Thirty years ago it was a good idea to buy your mobile home and set it up on someone else's land. That's not true today."Indeed, though the name "mobile home" suggests otherwise, owners cannot simply move to a new park where rents are lower, lawyer Gibbs said."The industry has changed since 1955--it's not Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz hooking up their trailer to their car," he said. "These things don't move today. Some have stucco walls and tile roofs."That is all the more incentive for park dwellers to become landowners. Homeowner Kirkpatrick, who paid $42,000 for her home, says she has spent at least $15,000 on improvements. She estimates that she could sell her home, though, for no more than $25,000, partly because the value of mobile homes has depreciated rapidly in the Southern California real estate downturn.David Hennessy, president of the Golden State Mobile Homeowners League in Garden Grove, said Orange County, which has more than 53,000 mobile home residents, is especially ripe for purchase by park dwellers. The reasons are high housing costs in general and a lack of any form of rent control, said Hennessy, whose nonprofit group represents 100,000 mobile home owners in California.Still, park owners' groups question the fairness of state and local backing for purchase of parks by residents."Should a city make a gift of public funds to help a couple of hundred people buy property?" asked Vickie M. Talley, executive director of the Orange County Manufactured Housing Educational Trust, a mobile home park owners association. "Just like any other homeowner, they should have to come up with the down payment and make the payments."Consultant Tennyson of the state Senate Select Committee on Mobile Homes argues that park residents, though, are in a special situation. Mobile homes are the only affordable housing available to many lower-income people, he said, and thus should be protected."Mobile homes are something the state should be involved in," he said. "Many of these people are seniors on fixed income. If they are economically forced out of their homes, they will end up on the streets, and the taxpayers will eventually be supporting them."Among mobile home residents who have succeeded in buying their parks, the consensus is that they made a wise decision.Ben Hetherington, 64, a former Pasadena police officer who owns a mobile home in the Shorecliffs park in San Clemente, said he and his neighbors are delighted with their $12.8-million purchase, completed in September, 1992.Each resident obtained a separate bank loan to buy his or her individual parcel of land, and now the 192-home park operates much like a condominium association. It is governed by a seven-member board of directors, of which Hetherington is one."You don't pay rent, you control your own park, and you have a say in what work is to be done," Hetherington said. "You don't have to go to someone else and ask for something. We have the security to know we can stay here and control our future."Profile of Mobile Home Parks* Number of parks in Orange County: 214* History: The majority were built during the 1960s and '70s. The county's newest park was built 10 years ago. Most are on leased land.* Typical space rental fee: $375 to $500 a month* Average price for a new mobile home: $50,000* Average resale price: Varies widely according to condition and location. Recent sales ranged from $8,500 to $89,900, with an average of $37,700.* Glossary: Trailer parks offer little more than a space to park a travel trailer. Mobile-home parks are larger communities with more space between homes and feature recreation facilities such as pools, open spaces and sites for organized activities.HOW MANY PEOPLE LIVE IN MOBILE HOMES?According to the 1990 census, 3.6% of Orange County's population lived in mobile homes. In inland counties, the rate is much higher. Riverside had the most in Southern California, with 15.4%.Mobile-home Percent of County population total population Orange 53,019 3.6% Los Angeles 104,985 1.8 Riverside 131,338 15.4 San Bernardino 76,829 7.9 Ventura 23,136 5.3 San Diego 83,132 4.9ANAHEIM, SANTA ANA HAVE MORE MOBILE HOMESMobile home units in Orange County by city: City: Number Anaheim: 4,304 Brea: 894 Buena Park: 317 Costa Mesa: 1,303 Cypress: 373 Dana Point: 260 Fountain Valley: 395 Fullerton: 790 Garden Grove: 1,944 Huntington Beach: 3,200 Irvine: 968 Laguna Beach: 451 Laguna Hills: 2 Laguna Niguel: 4 La Habra: 765 Lake Forest: 1,228 La Palma: 3 Los Alamitos: 115 Mission Viejo: 7 Newport Beach: 947 Orange: 1,214 Placentia: 537 San Clemente: 423 San Juan Capistrano: 1,212 Santa Ana: 3,830 Seal Beach: 128 Stanton: 1,394 Tustin: 702 Villa Park: 1 Westminster: 2,917 Yorba Linda: 302 Unincorporated areas: 1,024 County total: 31,954Sources: Manufactured Housing Educational Trust; California Multiple Listings Service; California Department of FinanceResearched by JANICE L. JONES / Los Angeles Times
2021 07 19
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Owner of Sewage-laden Mobile Home Park Indicted
The company that owns the Oak Hollow Mobile Home Park, where Northwest Side residents were forced to vacate last year because of chronic raw sewage leaks, has been indicted on criminal environmental charges, according to city officials.The city of San Antonio announced Thursday in an afternoon news release that the Bexar County District Attorney's Office had secured an indictment from the grand jury.Last fall, although a dozen families were forced to relocate, more than 40 families remained on the Prue Road property that had severe issues with raw sewage leaks, including above-ground pools of the waste. The condition of the park was seen as a significant threat to health and safety.On Thursday, the city's Department of Human Services sent out a notice to those remaining that they have to move out by Feb. 19. It cited the indictment while stating that state law required that the property owner either fix the site's septic tanks or close. According to the department, the owner had chosen to close the park. The department's notice said the city would cover up relocation expenses, up to $4,500 per lot.The city, late last year, filed a separate civil suit against San Man Inc., the company owned by Joseph Mangione."This charge should serve as an example to all negligent property owners who think they can operate above the law," Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in a news release. "You will be held accountable for your actions. All of our neighbors deserve to live in safe and clean conditions, and willful disregard for the safety and welfare of residents or the natural environment will not be tolerated."The owner could be held responsible through felony criminal charges and the civil case for the expense incurred by the city for relocating families who lived at the park, the release said. Since the issue arose, the city has relocated 24 families while 19 others moved out on their own. Some 17 families remain on site, the release said. District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez, a lawyer, said the affected families deserve restitution for the damages they've endured."Therefore, I will be working to connect them to free legal services. Some have first-party insurance remedy rights, civil claims against the defendant that can be prosecuted and claims against other third parties that have not yet been explored," he said. "We'll be helping them understand their rights and fight for them so that they are made whole."
2021 07 17
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Inspired by Paralyzed Army Vet, Lancaster Students Build Him a New Home
Jerral Hancock is trying to squeeze into his 8-year-old daughter's bedroom, but his electric wheelchair won't fit through the doorway.The door frames and walls are scuffed and scratched from his chair trying to make the tight spaces in the Lancaster mobile home. He gives up and backs away slowly, rubber wheels bumping against the wall. Eleven-year-old Julius' toy-cluttered bedroom sits catty-corner to Anastasia's. He doesn't even try to go in there."This isn't what I saw myself coming home to when I was out there, I can tell you that," Hancock says, his voice husky.------------FOR THE RECORD:Iraq war veteran: In the June 11 Section A, an article about a high school class that launched a drive to build a home for a disabled Iraq war veteran referred incompletely to the role played by others in the project. In addition to staging a benefit concert, the Gary Sinise Foundation managed the project along with the students. By the project's conclusion, the majority of funds to build the two houses had been raised by the Sinise foundation with the support of multiple donors and partners, including the Carrington Development Co., the Independence Fund and Disabled American Veterans. -------------Eight years ago, Hancock was a specialist with the Army's 1st Cavalry Division. He was driving an M1 Abrams tank outside Baghdad when it hit a roadside bomb that pierced the 70-ton vehicle's steel armor.Shrapnel wedged into his spine, paralyzing him from the chest down. Flames "cooked off" his left arm, the one with the Los Angeles Dodgers tattoo, and it would have to be amputated at the shoulder.It was May 29, 2007 - his 21st birthday.Anastasia, a charmer with her daddy's brown eyes, was born three weeks before the blast. The first time Hancock met the "baby of the burn unit," he was propped up in a hospital bed, pale and skinny, covered in burn wraps.Anastasia slips into the living room as Hancock tells the story. She's all blond hair and sass, an extrovert who grew up in hospital waiting rooms cheering up adults.She puts her head on her dad's chest and wraps her arms around his shirtless, scarred torso.::In her classroom at Lancaster High School, Jamie Goodreau tries to teach her students that history is a living thing, that they can be part of it.A soft-spoken woman with kind eyes and a big smile, Goodreau requires her students to create projects that give back to the community. One year, they organized a 1940s-style airport hangar dance, hired a swing band and raised more than $10,000 to restore a World War II B-17 bomber.When her students found out the Antelope Valley had no Armed Forces Day celebration, they created one. For more than a decade, they've hosted an annual dinner called Pride of the Nation. It was there, in 2013, that they met Hancock and his children.Hancock had been given a hero's welcome when he came home wounded. He was grand marshal of the Veterans Day parade. Lancaster hung a light-pole banner with his photo under the words "Hometown Hero." But privately, he was struggling.He came to speak to Goodreau's history class, on his 27th birthday, and opened up about his life after war. There was the physical agony. The nightmares about burning in that tank. The post-traumatic stress disorder playing out in a noisy mobile home park.Hancock's wife left him and the kids. His mother and stepfather became his full-time caretakers, living across the street. Sometimes, when he forgot to ask someone to turn the lights off before bed, he'd just sleep with the lights on, too embarrassed and angry to have to call his parents or wake the kids to turn them off for him.Hancock wasn't much older than the students, who were stunned by his struggles."It broke my heart inside," student Nicole Skinner said. "I thought I knew war was bad, but wow."The students wanted to help. So, the next day, with a quick classroom vote, they made a radical decision: They were going to build Hancock a new house.::Goodreau's students dubbed themselves OATH - Operation All The Way Home. They spent the summer hawking dog tags, T-shirts, coffee mugs. They passed donation buckets at Lancaster Jethawks baseball games and formed "bucket brigades" outside Wal-Mart. They had pizza nights, flapjack fundraisers, yard sales.Pretty soon, people all over the Antelope Valley "took the OATH." Inmates at the California State Prison in Lancaster even chipped in with an art fundraiser, selling paintings and handmade jewelry. After word got out about what the students were doing and how much they had already raised, actor Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band put on a benefit concert in Lancaster.OATH raised $170,000 in under a year; by the end of the second year, more than $350,000 in cash had been raised. A three-acre property in Palmdale was bought, on a quiet lot on a dirt road, with mountain views and big Joshua trees.The real estate agent waived her commission. Local architects drew up the blueprints for free and taught the teens how to go about building a house, how to take bids on the work, how to take out a mortgage. Ten months after Hancock spoke to the class, Goodreau's white Dodge pickup truck pulled up to the Los Angeles County Building and Safety office in Lancaster, and teenagers piled out of the back seat. It was time to get a construction permit for Hancock's house.Goodreau - whom the kids call Mama G - herded the teenagers into the quiet, white-tiled county office."Inside voices!" she yelled, grinning. "Sorry, we're excited," she whispered apologetically to a county staffer caught off-guard by the rowdy group in jeans and sneakers. "I'll be like a crazy mom, taking pictures."::This title of town hero has been an awkward fit for a quiet, sardonic soldier who has spent the years since his injury getting tattoos over his scars. A tank on his chest. A flaming Purple Heart on his neck. The Japanese symbol for warrior on his cheek. The words "Ride or Die" on his right arm, which was left so weak he can't drink a bottle of water without someone lifting it to his mouth.The kids raising the money should be getting the praise, he says, not him."I'm not big on being in the spotlight," he says, a few months after the project began. Strangers have started coming up to him in public, thanking him for his service, giving him fist bumps on his weak right hand. They quietly hand him cash, apologizing if they missed OATH events. He feels guilty when he's down, with all they're doing for him.A few days after the students get the building permits, Hancock is in his home, where there are photos everywhere of the baby-faced soldier in his Army fatigues: hair cropped, smoking a cigarette in the desert, mugging for the camera with the unmistakable swagger of a teenage soldier. He was 18 when he joined the Army. He'd tested out of high school, smart but bored, and become a father."I was trying to figure something out, working part time and sleeping on my mom's floor with a kid," he says. "I felt like a bum." A buddy called and said he was joining the Army. Hancock went to a recruiter the next week. He wanted something better for his son, and this was his chance.::On May 6, 2014, the students break ground on the property, where they're also building a house for Hancock's mom and stepfather, Stacie and Dirrick Benjamin. It's a community celebration: dozens of residents, young and old, some of them clutching American flags.An older man spots Hancock and grins."Jerral, brother, how are you, sir?""Still breathing. Can't complain."Goodreau is emotional as the crowd grows. "What a journey," she says into a microphone on a stage set up between two construction trucks. The students "were determined to run a marathon at sprint speed because Jerral had been in that house for six years, and they thought six years was too long."Kaelynn Edwards, 17, smiles at Hancock from the microphone."We gave up the summer of our senior year," she says, "but Jerral's sacrifice was bigger."::By this February, the wooden frames of the two houses stand tall. There are construction workers on site - they've been working weekends and nights, with lights strapped to their heads - and sawdust on the floor as the students step inside Hancock's house. They're armed with markers to sign the bare plywood. Their messages will be painted over, but their words will remain there forever.Goodreau signs the top of a window frame, the words of "Amazing Grace": "Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home."When Nicole Skinner, who is now in college, sees how far the house has come, tears run down her face."This is going to be a real house," she whispers. "Like, who does that but us?"She's grown close to Hancock in the nearly two years since he spoke to her class. A shy foster child with a tough upbringing, she has come to consider her fellow OATH students and Hancock her family.In purple marker, she writes on Hancock's wall: "You deserve this, Hancock! ... It's a simple act of kindness that can make a difference. Keep your head up, J."As the house has raised, so have Hancock's spirits. He's seen the students grow, and he tells them often he's proud of them.He's also fallen in love. Adriana Gonzalez, a military daughter with a sarcastic sense of humor on par with his, came to many of the OATH events, where they talked and talked. Last fall, he proposed. She said yes.They move quietly through the house, reading the students' messages, sunlight streaming through the wooden framing. She puts her hand on his shoulder.::Disabled veterans call the day they survive their injuries their Alive Day. On his latest Alive Day - and his 29th birthday - Jerral Hancock goes home.His family pulls onto the property, escorted by sheriff's deputies and flag-bearing Patriot Guard motorcycle riders. Dozens of people line the driveway, cheering in the hot desert sun.A white-haired Navy veteran leads the crowd in prayer: "Bless these houses and put lots of love in them, so they'll turn into homes." Someone holds up the infant son of the local contractor who led construction - he's wearing a camouflage OATH onesie.Hancock's new handicap-accessible house has automatic doors, lights and blinds that can be controlled with a tablet computer - and wide doorways.He steers his chair into his son's Army-green bedroom, where Julius waves to him with both arms from the top of his new bunk bed."Look, I'm a private!" Julius says, mimicking a soldier.Anastasia runs into her bright blue bedroom, and jumps on her new bed, with its Disney "Frozen" bedspread. She's so excited: In the past, whenever she wanted to hear a bedtime story, she'd go to her dad's room, listen to the story, and return to hers to go to sleep.Now, her dad will be able to read her stories in her own bedroom.
2021 07 16
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