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‘They still don’t know what to do:’ Families face eviction from Orangeburg mobile home park

Published: Oct. 9, 2021 at 5:58 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 10, 2021 at 12:16 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Residents of Crepe Myrtle Village Mobile Home Park in Orangeburg were met with eviction notices in July as new owners took over the park.

The new owners, Colonial Holdings Group, say they need the park vacated to fix several code violations, some of which include home foundation and plumbing issues. Fixing those specific code violations means contractors need access underneath each trailer.

An attorney for Colonial Holdings says some homes have been abandoned, but many of the people who remain in the park are on a fixed income and worry they can’t save enough money to pick up and move.

“People were struggling before the pandemic. It’s like now you want someone to just up and leave their livelihoods. No, that’s not gonna happen overnight,” said ACLU Advocate Anwar H. Young.

Colonial Holdings began delivering eviction notices to each home in July, but thanks to a series of eviction extensions, they now have until November 1 to leave.

Still, long-time resident Kelvin Gadson says that’s not enough time.

“You’ve got a young lady that’s been here for 13 years; it’s all she knows,” said Gadson. “Another man’s been here, you know, his trailer’s paid for. You know, it ain’t like they’ve got a bunch of money. They wouldn’t be staying in the trailer park if they had a bunch of money.”

Colonial Holdings gave the tenants options that include selling the home to the group for a price determined by Colonial based on the condition of the home, abandoning the home, or moving the home to another park.

Gadson says many residents have invested into their mobile homes by renovating them and they don’t have the money they need to move their trailer or lose the money they’ve invested by abandoning it.

Colonial Holdings’ attorney says in a statement that they have offered financial assistance to tenants.

“My clients made various offers to current tenants; this included financial assistance if any tenants wanted to move to one of the other parks in Orangeburg owned by the same company. A reminder of the ongoing evictions as well as the offer of financial assistance was extended for a final time in August.”

Gadson says what they’re offering isn’t enough.

“You’ve got these families struggling and they still don’t know what to do,” said Gadson.

The ACLU, City Council, and the Mayor are coming together to find a way for the remaining families to move.

In a statement, Orangeburg Mayor Michael C. Butler says:

“I am aware of the situation regarding Crepe Myrtle Village. The City Administrator and I are talking with the new owner and residents and trying to negotiate a plan. As more details are finalized, we will share with the residents and the public. We certainly want to come to an agreement that will be in the best interest of everyone involved.”

Colonial Holdings’ attorney says there is no animosity toward the current residents and that they are welcome to come back to the park once the code violations are fixed, but it’s unclear when that will be.

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