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Standing Up for Mobile Home Park Residents: A Community's Fight for Justice

In recent months, Bowling Green has witnessed a wave of change, not of progress, but of displacement and uncertainty for its most vulnerable residents – those living in mobile home parks. As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, the decision by the board of commissioners to approve a zoning change of the land Kentucky Gardens Mobile Home Park sits on set off a chain of events that threatened to uproot families and disrupt lives irreparably. Here’s an update on how a group of dedicated individuals and organizations have continued to rally together to push back against injustice and protect their community.

The Initial Blow: Zoning Change Approval

When Eddie and Joy Hanks received approval for a zoning change for the location of Kentucky Gardens Mobile Home Park, residents knew their homes were at risk. Many mobile homes in the park, built before 1996, faced insurmountable obstacles when it came to relocation due to insurance and liability issues. Furthermore, finding alternative housing was fraught with barriers such as ineligibility for Section 8 housing vouchers and long waiting lists for other available services.

Organizing for Change

Faced with limited legal protections, residents mobilized with the help of KEJC Housing Outreach Coordinator Laura Harper Knight. The Louisville Tenants Union provided crucial support, guiding residents in organizing meetings to share their stories with the Hanks. Despite initial promises of dialogue, the Hanks withdrew, prompting residents to escalate their efforts through media campaigns and fundraising initiatives aimed at ensuring safe re-housing by the looming deadline.

A Turning Point: Community Pressure

Through sustained advocacy and media scrutiny, the community achieved a significant victory when an investor withdrew support for the Hanks' project. This setback not only delayed the project but also extended the deadline for residents to vacate by a year, underscoring the power of collective action in holding these developers accountable.

Building a Future: Policy and Community Action

Looking ahead, local activists engaged city officials to explore sustainable solutions, including community land trusts that would provide long-term housing security for mobile home residents. These efforts aim not only to prevent future displacements but also to empower residents with stable housing options.

Expanding the Fight: Solidarity Across Communities

Unfortunately, the threat of displacement looms large over another mobile home park in Bowling Green, where tenants face eviction to facilitate the sale of the land. Organizations like the Kentucky Equal Justice Center have stepped in to offer support, ensuring that residents are not left to face this challenge alone.

Challenges and Triumphs

Throughout this struggle, the Bowling Green Mobile Homeowners United (BGHMU) has demonstrated steadfast leadership. In a move that aimed to take advantage of residents' lack of knowledge of the law and regulations, the Hanks’ tried to recoup "fines" they claim they had to pay for code violations incurred at various Kentucky Gardens residences. However, these claims were not only wrong but falsified by the Hanks’s. Because mobile home units are directly owned, any code violations and associated fines would have come from a code compliance officer and delivered directly to the mobile home owner; the land owner (in this case, Eddie and Joy Hanks) would not have been involved. Essentially, the Hanks’ impersonated the office of code compliance, and upon further investigation, it was also discovered that there have been and are no open code violations of any unit located in Kentucky Gardens.

Additionally, a number of residents who have been instrumental in organizing against the Hanks’ were targeted for retaliatory eviction through the use of fraudulent/falsified eviction notices. KEJC Housing Justice Attorney Jackson Cooper threatened legal recourse via a trial, and the Hanks’ wisely chose to settle out of court.

Looking Forward: Unity in Action

As we reflect on these challenges and victories, it becomes clear that the fight for housing justice in Bowling Green is far from over. It requires ongoing commitment from all members of the community – residents, activists, and policymakers – to ensure that every individual has a place to call home, free from fear of displacement.

The journey thus far to safeguard mobile home park residents in Bowling Green has been marked by resilience, solidarity, and a determination to uphold justice. By standing together, we have not only protected our neighbors but also set a precedent for developers: our communities will not tolerate actions that threaten the stability and well-being of their members. As we continue to advocate for equitable housing policies, we invite everyone to join us in building a future where housing is a right, not a privilege.

You can donate to Bowling Green Mobile Homeowners United by giving to their GoFundMe campaign. To keep up-to-date on future BGMHU news and fundraising opportunities, visit their Facebook page.


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