NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa (KWWL) – People living at Golfview Mobile Home Park in North Liberty are unsure if they’ll be able to keep their homes ahead of a 60% rent spike next month.
A Utah-based group called Havenpark bought the property in March, and announced rent increases would go into effect in June. But after backlash from residents, it got pushed back to July.
During the late-spring and early-summer months, many residents have packed up and left.
“They’ve lost what they thought was their home, their friends,” Candi Evans said, whose rent is going from $295 per month up to $475. “You see people moving out two or three times a week.”
Havenpark said in a statement to KWWL that it’s trying to preserve the property, and that a developer would likely have moved in and demolished the land if not for the group.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) also inquired to the group about their predatory practices to boost profits in communities they own.
“These are some of the country’s wealthiest firms, preying on rural and lower-income communities to turn a profit. This kind of corporate abuse is unacceptable-and the American people deserve answers,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement in late May.
On Tuesday, Havenpark responded to their inquest with a four-page letter.
“We are committed to preserving affordable housing by purchasing manufactured home communities and investing heavily in them,” Havenpark managing partners J. Anthony Antonelli and Robison Pratt said in part, defending themselves.
People at Golfview are skeptical, though.
“They can promise you anything. ‘We’re gonna do this, we’re gonna do that,’ and I’m going to tell you, you’re not going to see 75% of it,” Dan Prosser said, who suffers from two types of cancer and moved to Golfview last year to be closer to his daughter and grandchildren.
Havenpark met with the residents once but the tenants have been sending requests for another meeting for weeks, after not being satisfied with the first.
“After meeting with community residents from those two properties we decided to stagger the rent increases over a period of two years,” Antonelli and Pratt continued in their statement. “This rent normalization was the cost of securing and preserving these communities.”
“It was more of lecture,” Evans said of the first meeting.