- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Three out of 14 families who were moved into the Super 8 hotel in Prince Frederick have yet to find alternative housing, after their residences at the Hallowing Point Mobile Home Park were deemed “below minimum livable standards,” according to the county.
“There are a lot of families who are going to have to go back [to the trailer park],” Lisa Largen, whose mobile home unit was condemned because of frozen and broken water pipes and mold, said Thursday morning. “Thank God everything worked out for me, but some people haven't found places.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, Largen was one of those residents who did not know where she and her family were going to go after Friday because moving back into her unit was not an option. By Wednesday evening, Largen was able to find a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house in Lusby for her family of five.
“My kids are so excited,” Largen said Thursday morning. “But I feel bad because some people still don't know what they're gonna do.”
After the residents were moved into the hotel, Calvert County Commissioner Evan Slaughenhoupt (R) and Maureen Hoffman, director of community resources, met with them Jan. 29 to discuss their move forward.
Representatives from several Calvert County Government agencies were working with the families to ensure their immediate needs were met, and government staff supposedly was arranging for representatives from various local and state agencies to visit the families, help them access needed services and plan for relocation to more permanent housing, according to county officials.
“People are going to be meeting with us one on one every day to help us get set up,” Largen said after the meeting with Slaughenhoupt last Wednesday. “I feel a lot better, and I'm glad it came out this way.”
On Tuesday, Hoffman said each family was assigned a social services case worker to assist them with their needs. She also said eight families were identified as eligible for assistance housing; three trailers were not able to be occupied because they had structural damages or other deficiencies that minor repairs would not fix; three veterans with “unusual circumstances” were receiving help through the Calvert Affordable Housing Alliance; and several adults who were not eligible for housing assistance had units to which repairs were quickly made and could either return to the trailer park or go elsewhere on their own.
“Surprisingly, some of the folks really do want to return,” Hoffman said. “They've grown up there and lived there for years, and they're happy to return if repairs are made.”
“It's still a very serious subject we're dealing with,” Slaughenhoupt said Tuesday. “Our initial role was to make sure we have people put into a safer environment, but we want them to be able to be on their own and not become totally dependent on the government.”
Mike Mona, owner of the Hallowing Point Mobile Home Park, said he received 11 violations from the Calvert County Health Department for units that had frozen and broken water pipes. As of Friday, he said, nine of the units will be repaired and ready for tenants to move back in, but interior repairs, such as broken windows, porches and “soft spots” in the floors, will not be done until next week. Mona said Wednesday that tenants of three units already have moved back and for those who choose to return, their rent will be pro-rated for the time they were gone.
“We're gonna be there every day until the problems are resolved,” Mona said. “… What happened last Tuesday, I would like to say it's my fault. I'm not blaming it on [manager] Frank [Moneymaker] at all. … I'd also like to thank the Barstow [Elementary] School teachers for their involvement and everything they've done. … We're still going to have a lot of kids living here, and I'm looking forward to working with the Barstow school teachers in the future.”
A group of Barstow Elementary teachers visited the mobile home park to provide assistance at the end of January after Largen made the decision not to send her children to school due to their frozen pipes and subsequent lack of water at home.
Moneymaker, the park's manager and landlord for the tenants, has taken a “step back” from the trailer park since the incident, Mona said.
“Frank's taken a beating on this, and I want to take responsibility for what's happened,” Mona said.
Largen said her family received a Section 8 voucher, the federal government's program for helping very low-income families, the elderly and the disabled afford decent, safe and sanitary housing, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Families issued housing vouchers are responsible for finding a suitable housing unit where the owner agrees to rent under the program. A housing subsidy is paid to the landlord directly by the public housing agency on behalf of the family. The family then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program.
The problem, Largen said, is that she had a difficult time finding anyone willing to accept Section 8. Those who do, Largen said, also ask for credit and criminal histories, which she said wouldn't turn out well for some mobile home tenants.
“That's why we lived in the trailer park in the first place,” Largen said, adding that the Hallowing Point Mobile Home Park did not perform credit checks or background histories and was the easiest place to move into.
“A lot of the people in Calvert don't want to accept it because they're stereotyping people on Section 8 thinking we're going to ruin their home,” Largen said.
“I don't think they will be left destitute,” Slaughenhoupt said regarding Largen's worries. “Because a lot of people are aware of their challenges ... we're trying to carve a path to get these folks on their feet. … Frankly, the folks who live there have to do their part, as well. They have to fill out forms and do things, as well.”
Amye Scrivener, director of the Calvert County Department of Social Services, has been working with the families to find them resources needed to assist with financial and housing needs.
“It's always a challenge to find affordable housing, and depending on the size of the family it can make it hard to find a place,” Scrivener said. After Friday, if families are still in need of assistance past move-out time, social services will continue helping them.
“My impression is that the housing authority is moving at an incredibly fast pace and doing everything they can to make that happen as quickly as possible,” Scrivener said.
“The Housing Authority of Calvert County took a six-week process and condensed it within four days,” Mark Volland, marketing communications specialist for Calvert County, said Thursday morning of the county's efforts to get families on their feet as quickly as possible.
Volland said each day, inspectors from the Calvert County Health Department, an agent of both the state and county government, and the county's inspections and permits division are at the park inspecting and making sure the units are up to code and meet the “minimum livability code.”
“There are so many moving parts and agencies involved,” Volland said. “This [process] is ongoing.”