Mobile home park residents left in lurch

4:56 PM, Aug 7, 2012   |    comments
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New Port Richey, Florida - This Walden Pond is not Thoreau's lake of quiet reflection. Instead, it is a rundown mobile home park in New Port Richey, filled with growing trash piles and stress levels.

"With all this going on, now the big fear is going back to being homeless," says Donna Griffin, sitting in front of a trailer.

Griffin used to live in a tent in the woods, but she and her partner saved to buy a trailer. It's not much... but it's something of their own.

"Walden Pond may not be the best place," she says. "But it's still people's homes."

But now Griffin and others in the park are being told to get out. A July letter from park owner set a deadline of July 31.  Many people have moved on, but about three dozen people, including children remain. They say they're short on both time and money to find anywhere else.

"Time is running out and it's day by day right now," says Lisa Tipton, who owns two trailers in the park. "I came home to check on things to make sure water was still on. We have nowhere to go, once they say, 'That's it, you have to leave.'"

Because so many trailers are empty, the people that remain say that vandalism is now a big problem. People living in one trailer even took a can of spray paint to the outside with the message: "This is still occupied. Keep out."

People who own their own trailers may be able to get some monetary help through a state relocation fund administered by the Florida Mobile Home Relocation Corporation.

Gene Brooks from the Federation of Manufactured Home Owners of Florida is helping people at the park apply. Brooks lives nearby and finds the whole situation at the park sad.

"The children are always the ones who have to suffer and take the brunt of everything," he says with emotion, looking at the kids playing in the decrepit park.

The park's owner, Paul Beraquit, tells 10 News by phone that closing the park is simple economics, but for families forced to leave... nothing is that simple. 

Griffin says, "The owner of Walden Pond, to me, has no heart."


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