Featured photo: Jamison Mobile Home Park, where residents and their supporters were attempting to raise money and awareness about their plight to stay in their homes. Most of the tenants own their homes and rent the land beneath it from Family Properties, which is being sold to Owl’s Roost Properties who plan to build apartments on the site. (photo by Carolyn de Berry)
It’s all pretty confusing.
For the last six months, the residents at the Jamison mobile-home park situated off Hiatt Street in Greensboro have been going back and forth between the developer, who is buying the land they live on, and the seller: Lynn Anderson of Family Properties.
The land has been used as a mobile-home park for 50 years since Anderson’s grandfather owned the property. According to reporting by the News & Record, the land will be used for multi-family housing units.
As has been reported by multiple news outlets including Triad City Beat, the residents of the park, which totaled about 21 families at one point, originally hoped to buy the land so they could stay on the property. However, both Anderson and representatives of Jerry Wass of Owl’s Roost Partners have repeatedly told TCB and others that backing out of the sale, which was reported on back in June, was impossible and legally untenable.
At that point, the residents were told they had until the end of September, then the end of December to vacate the premises. Shortly afterwards, the families received an extension until the end of January 2022. However, more recently, outlets such as the News & Record and Yes! Weekly have reported that the remaining residents have until the end of the school year in June to leave.
But reporting by TCB has shown that there has been no written agreement between the parties that this is the case.
In a December article, Yes! Weekly reported that Marc Isaacson, the attorney representing Jerry Wass of Owl’s Roost Partners, said that the families have until “the end of the Spring 2022 school semester before they vacate.”
“The buyer and seller heard the testimony of some of the residents at recent city council meetings and are empathetic about their situation,” Isaacson was quoted as saying. “The parties to the contract agreed to extend their closing date from January to two weeks after the end of Guilford school year (i.e. June 19) to allow ample time for residents to relocate.”
However, in an email recently forwarded to TCB, Kelly Morales, the executive director of Siembra NC, a Latinx advocacy group that has been working closely with the families, said that they had received no such written agreement that the families had an extended deadline.
“The residents have NOT received written notice that they have until the school year ends,” Morales wrote. “The last written notice they have received from the current landowner, Lynn Anderson, states that they have until March 31 to vacate. This means that although these statements about a post-school year extension are being made to the press, they are not legally enforceable.”
In a call on Jan. 20, Anderson reiterated what Morales said in her email to TCB.
“We don’t have a closing date,” Anderson said. “These people know they have to be out by March 31. We extended three months past the 180 days required.”
Anderson noted that she has not been able to communicate with the residents as of late, expressing confusion at their dismay of the property’s impending sale.
Last fall, the residents and the surrounding community hosted a fundraiser to raise money for the families to buy the property. However, Anderson said that’s not an option.
“I cannot get out of this contract without being sued,” Anderson said. “It is a legal contract that is binding. The tenants now, after we have a contract, they’re saying that they wanna buy it. But they could have bought it at any time. We never put the property on the market. [The buyer] came to us. [The residents] don’t own the land. We aren’t putting them out of a home. The contract has run out. I didn’t do anything illegal.”
Anderson, who according to the News & Record inherited the property from her family and was directed by her recently deceased aunt to sell the lot, expressed little concern for the remaining families. She noted that she didn’t think to ever offer the residents to buy the property because they had “struggled to pay their rent” and that they all “signed a lease that said they could be given a 30-day notice” if the property were to ever be sold.
“Their rent has not paid for the land,” Anderson said.
In an email to TCB on Tuesday, Isaacson seemed to counter Anderson’s assertion that the families only had until the end of March to stay.
“I spoke with the seller’s agent who confirmed that our understanding is correct — that the buyer and seller have agreed to delay closing until just after the end of the current school year to allow time for students at Hiatt Street to complete their studies at their current schools,” Isaacson wrote. “We are working to get a packet of documents together for residents to sign to agree to this timeline.”
However, when asked about the discrepancy between Anderson and her agent, Isaacson responded with a message to TCB that he states was from Anderson’s agent.
“Marc, I would just tell her that we are working with all parties to find a suitable resolution that all parties can agree to as we discussed yesterday,” Isaacson’s email read.
Michelle Kennedy, former at-large city councilmember and current director of the city’s neighborhood development department, told TCB that she hoped that the families would be able to stay until June but that the “final pieces haven’t been confirmed yet.”
She also noted that the remaining families, of which there are nine, will have to receive funding from an outside source to relocate.
“We’re working with the Community Foundation and other partners to identify the best course of funding,” Kennedy said. “I think they’re going to require complete support for relocation. It’s a costly endeavor and it’s been communicated to us that they’ll need complete funding for relocation.”
The amount, Kennedy says, is not clear yet.
“We’re working to get estimates on the cost for that move and what we’re looking at is a complete break down and then a complete set up where they are,” Kennedy said.
In her email, Morales noted that some of the families who left at the end of last year have seen costs pile up due to relocation. That’s why her organization is advocating for a “feasible Plan B” that shows any changes in writing so that the commitments are legally enforceable.
Kennedy, who has been meeting with residents on and off for the last several weeks, also expressed her willingness to support the families.
“Our goal is to support these residents the best way we can,” she said.
However, during the call, Anderson did not express any plans to extend the March 31 deadline.
“These people have protested on our land,” Anderson said. “Why should I work with them? You don’t treat people like that and expect to work together…. They have moved on from me helping them, so no. At this point I have done everything that I can possibly do to help these people and they’re not interested in my help.”
Join the First Amendment Society, a membership that goes directly to funding TCB‘s newsroom.
We believe that reporting can save the world.
The TCB First Amendment Society recognizes the vital role of a free, unfettered press with a bundling of local experiences designed to build community, and unique engagements with our newsroom that will help you understand, and shape, local journalism’s critical role in uplifting the people in our cities.
All revenue goes directly into the newsroom as reporters’ salaries and freelance commissions.
[…] in Greensboro there is the Hiatt Trailer Park that houses mostly poor immigrant families. Many of these families have been living there for […]