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After being told to vacate, families at Newport News mobile home park worry about what's next

Airport officials say it's an "unsustainable" property, but residents are worried about where to go in the coming months.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Dozens of Newport News families are wondering what's next after it was announced their mobile home park would close by the fall of 2022.

The Patrick Henry Mobile Home Park, which sits adjacent to the airfield of the Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport, will close on Nov. 5.

In late April, the Peninsula Airport Commission said it began notifying residents that it would close the property the mobile home park sits on, as the site's maintenance and upkeep would no longer be accounted for in the airport's fiscal budgeting moving forward.

“This particular area is not sustainable anymore," said Mike Giardino, the executive director for the Peninsula Airport Commission.

According to Giardino, the property at one point brought in revenue close to $1 million from the leasing structure with the property's tenants, who although owning the individual mobile homes and units themselves, are still responsible for paying a land lease fee plus some utilities (which Giardino later explained estimated to approximately $450 a month). 

“It is where it is today, there is nothing we can do about it today. I cannot lawfully run that park," he said, adding the move was done to create a more "self-sufficient" operation which he is bound to do by federal statute.

The timing, however, is both sudden and hard to process for many families living in the complex. And given the country's difficult-to-navigate real estate market, it presents a stressful situation for those like Oswin and Jennifer Rolon.

“When we took this mobile home, we repaired everything," Oswin said as he stood next to his wife, Jennifer, inside the home they say they've sunk tens of thousands of dollars worth of upgrades into.

“What am I going to do with the sheetrock, the lights, the windows, if we don’t have another place?" he asked.

Families are being monetarily incentivized to leave the property before the deadline:

  • $2,000 for moving before the end of May
  • $1,000 for moving before the end of June
  • $500 for moving before the end of July

However, other residents who talked to 13News Now are afraid those payments do little to offset the cost of moving altogether, which they shared could cost in the thousands for a mobile home, if they're able to find another lot to occupy in the first place. 

“People who even have money can’t get housing, so what do you expect us to do?" resident Elias Cruz Romero asked.

Less than a month removed from those developments, several of the families have sought legal counsel to help receive a more reasonable rate for their homes, according to attorney Nathaniel Webb III.

In a conversation with 13News Now, he said some families in the neighborhood should begin receiving document lists that will help access the true value and worth of the homes.

Giardino added that rent for park residents has been waived from now until the deadline and that they're working with community partners to try and help the residents transition elsewhere. 

“Spending time and money in this home, for nothing,” Rolon said.

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