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How Phoenix leaders are helping mobile home park residents being forced to move

The Phoenix City Council approved a $300,000 contract Wednesday to provide legal services to residents of three mobile home parks being displaced for development.

Community Legal Services, a nonprofit law firm, will help tenants at Las Casitas, Periwinkle and Weldon Court parks “to preserve their future housing opportunities and provide tenants with legal support to effectively navigate within the eviction judicial system”.

Residents own their homes but not the land and pay rent to live there. Now, the property owners have plans that don’t include those mobile homes. For months, residents have attended City Council meetings and pleaded for help to stop or postpone the evictions. Council members met behind closed doors to get legal advice and discuss options before voting on the contract.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Veronica Monge with the Arizona Poor People’s Campaign said undocumented families are not eligible to get money through the program, “And, also, let’s keep in mind that there are many families which live in many mobile parks that need help and it’s also inappropriate for this council to pick and choose who will be receiving help based on their status or based on their discretion by the City Council.”

Mayor Kate Gallego said the council will hold public discussions on mobile home parks soon beginning with the Community and Cultural Investment Subcommittee chaired by Councilwoman Betty Guardado.

In a written statement to KJZZ News, Guardado said, “I am hopeful that these residents and folks that are working with them will take advantage of these resources. But we need to be clear: the problem of evictions will continue as long as our housing affordability crisis continues, bringing rising levels of homelessness and desperation all over the Valley. As elected leaders of the City of Phoenix, we need other cities, the county and the state to step up to the plate and join our efforts to build more housing units and bring rents down.”

Some cities outside Arizona have rezoned parks to make it harder for developers to close them and build commercial projects or more expensive housing.

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As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.