Catholics for Housing to help East End Mobile Home Park residents keep their homes

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For the past year, Catholics for Housing has worked with the City of Manassas to purchase the East End Mobile Home Park to save 59 families from eviction. The Manassas City Council voted unanimously Oct. 16 to subordinate its contract with the current owner of the property, making way for the nonprofit organization to purchase the mobile home park for $1.4 million.

“We are thrilled that our skills, expertise, resources and commitment to preserving housing opportunities will not only keep all of these families in their homes, but also enhance their quality of life,” said Karen DeVito, Catholics for Housing executive director, in a statement.

The Manassas City Council ended the city’s plan to purchase the property for $1.86 million and repair the failing sewer system. The city could revert to its original plans to purchase the park if the organization does not meet certain requirements, including resolving the significant water, sewer and management issues that have plagued residents for years. 

The Catholic organization provides housing opportunities in 21 counties to eligible applicants, helping them find affordable and sustainable housing. They manage seven units in Arlington, two in Fairfax and nine units in Fredericksburg.

DeVito said the nonprofit looks at this as a total project, repairing the sewer and water, and bringing the city in to take the water system from a private to a public system, where every resident will be a customer of the city. Other improvements will include upgraded roads, manholes and fire hydrants inside the park, and tree pruning.

Father Gerry Creedon, pastor of Holy Family Church in Dale City and founder of Catholics for Housing, said the city council’s decision is a tremendous step forward. “It is a sign of the church’s social mission that we are providing an opportunity for people to enjoy the right to a decent home. We as a church need to be a support for those without shelter and provide shelter.”

Charlie Einsmann, vice president of the board for the organization, said the needs of the East End Mobile Home Park residents were brought to their attention when the City of Manassas had acquired it and moved to evict the residents. Catholics for Housing was asked to help the residents move somewhere else.

The recent decision of the Manassas City Council is one step. “We have been through a roller coaster with this, so I’m excited at this point,” said Einsmann. “The next step is closing the real estate part of the transaction and getting bonded for the work.”

“We are replacing the entire infrastructure — sewer, water and storm management system,” Einsmann said. “We are going to convert a two-bedroom house in the middle of the park into a community center.”

Catholics for Housing will help run the trailer park and bring trailers up to code.

Father Ramon Rodriguez, program director of the nearby Don Bosco Center run by the Youth Apostles, helped the mobile home residents spiritually this past year. “They bring a lot of assets to the community,” Father Rodriguez said. “They are not just going to help the residents stay in their homes, which was the immediate goal. They bring assets to help the residents look ahead and position themselves for more success and know the options they have for their own lives and for their children.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017

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