Three hundred Manassas residents still have a home after a group of community members helped save a local mobile home park.
In August 2016, the East End Mobile Home Park in Manassas was in pretty rough shape.
“The trailer park needed three systems — it needed a stormwater management system, a brand new water system, and it needed a sewer system,” Catholics for Housing Vice President Charlie Einsmann said. “The sewer system got all the press, because of all the leakage and all the impediments in the soil.”
The City of Manassas also had plans to flat land the park, where more than 50 trailers are stationed.
Several individuals, including Helen Sorto, stood in opposition to the idea.
“We had a team of advocates get together and fight for the residents, and we decided that it was good for our community to keep these residents in their homes,” Sorto said.
A community meeting that focused on the mobile park’s closure was also held.
Since then, Catholics for Housing has purchased the mobile home park and the issues are being addressed.
“Bring it forward to today, the work is about 80 percent complete … We are now in the process of connecting the laterals to the trailers themselves,” Einsmann said.
The final paving for the East End Mobile Home Park is expected to take place within a month, and the water and sewer systems are in place.
“It’s very exciting to see the work as an advocate, see the hard work and dedication of these workers on the park doing what we asked them to do, and they’re doing it so gracefully and so friendly with the residents, with their team, and also Catholics for Housing,” Sorto said. “Supporting and watching this … it’s very humbling, they still can’t believe they’re still in their homes.”
Catholics for Housing became involved with the East End Mobile Home Park long before the Dumfries-based non-profit offered to purchase it in October 2017.
Einsmann learned about the issue when his friend, who works for the non-profit Voice, showed him the contract between the City of Manassas the park’s then-owner.
“She asked me if I could step in and help, because the contract proposed that the City of Manassas was going to come in and purchase the property and evict all the residents from the property,” Einsmann said.
His friend was hopeful that Catholics for Housing could help relocate the residents.
After looking over the contract and learning more information about the trailer park, Einsmann realized that the non-profit would not be able to relocate the residents.
“Catholics for Housing is a non-profit organization that is for low-income housing — this is sort of our forte — but I knew that relocating these folks was going to be impossible, so we had to try to figure out how to buy it,” he said.
Einsmann spent February and March 2017 learning about the work that needed to be done, and the key advocates and officials who were involved.
“I also had to talk with some folks about how Catholics for Housing could even afford it, because when you’re in the non-profit space, you don’t have a lot of money so you don’t have a lot of resources,” he said. “So, I had to then work on putting the resources together to make this a viable deal for Catholics for Housing, because the money had to be there somehow, some way.”
The project amounted to $2.5 million, including $1.35 million for the land and $1.2 million for infrastructure costs.
Catholics for Housing not only worked alongside the advocates to save the trailer park, it also developed a partnership with the city.
“They were in opposition from day one, so we took it from an oppositional phase to a partnership phase in that the City of Manassas is going to own the actual water and sewer systems,” Einsmann said.
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