Home News Fund created to help Whitehaven residents avoid displacement, but more work lies ahead

Fund created to help Whitehaven residents avoid displacement, but more work lies ahead

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Hector Lopez, a 2015 Steamboat Springs High School graduate, has traveled all the way from Fort Collins to help the community.
Mike Kenfield/Photo Courtesy

inhabitants of Whitehaven Mobile Home Park They were warned on August 9 and given 90 days to buy the land under their home or raise enough money to risk an uncertain future.

Less than a month later, Whitehaven residents learned that an unknown buyer had made a $3 million-plus offer for park property, prompting the homeowner to Move or increase lot fees dramatically.

The residents of Whitehaven (27 households, about 70 people) know there’s a lot of work ahead, but they want to prove they’re willing to take on the challenge. Still, $3 million is a lot of money, and despite their confidence in their work ethic, residents know they need help.

On September 1st, the Yampa Valley Community Foundation established the Routt County Workforce Housing Preservation Fund. YVCdebt.org.

According to YVCF executive director Tim Wohlgenant, the fund will help Whitehaven residents buy property and become a community-owned community, but if the deadline is not met, the funds will be used You can keep your rent affordable. .

“It’s not good for us as a community to evict people from all the houses out there,” Wolgenand said. “We’re already short of housing.”

If donations exceed the amount needed to purchase the park, Wohlgenant anticipates supporting other mobile home parks or low-income housing in Root County in situations similar to Whitehaven.

Many Whitehaven residents own units and invest thousands of dollars in them. Some residents are still paying off their loans, and if they lose their property, they’re still in trouble.

Technician Brad Leister, who has several jobs around town, began work on replacing some of Whitehaven’s units with leaky roofs. This is an ambitious and expensive project for Leister. He has to completely rebuild the room where the water heater and washer and dryer were.

Brad Leister works on rebuilding some of his mobile home units at Whitehaven Mobile Home Park on Thursday, September 1, 2022.
Spencer Powell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Just days after starting the rebuild, Leister learned that the park could be sold. The current plan, he said, is to seal everything up and take the washer, dryer and water heater out of the kitchen where they were stored and bring them into the room being rebuilt.

Mr. Leister then plans to wait and see how it all unfolds before bleeding more money.

Leister has an eight-year-old daughter. He said Whitehaven is a great community for children, with many children playing in the park and riding bikes.

“I lived in an apartment and was put up for sale and evicted twice,” Leister said. “This is the third time this has happened in this town. If it happens again, I don’t know if I would stay here.”

YVCF has had a successful past, helping raise more than $1 million for the Yampa Valley RISE program and helping raise the donation that prompted the Yampa Valley Housing Authority to purchase land at Brown Ranch Did.

Unlike Kickstarter and GoFundMe, YVCF is a non-profit organization, does not receive a portion of donations, and all donations are tax deductible.

The fund will also support an “emergency capital improvement project” involving a broken water pipe that has left about half of Whitehaven’s residents without access to water, but thanks to 25-year-old Hector Lopez, the community is already on board with the problem. is resolving. He commutes between his home in Whitehaven and Fort Collins, working full time as a foreman.

Lopez’s parents also lived in Whitehaven and spent weeks collecting water for cooking and showering from a garden hose attached to the lottery’s unit hundreds of feet away.

Portable toilets were set up on the outskirts of the park for those without water, but many residents preferred to use their own toilets using buckets of water and some ingenuity.

Lopez and other members of the community dug an eight-foot-deep, two-foot-wide ditch, repaired a waterway break, and installed a new isolation valve.

“We just want to help each other,” Lopez said. “Now I’m actually using my neighbor’s wheelbarrow for his two because I didn’t bring my wheelbarrow from Fort His Collins. Just asked my neighbor.”

Residents of Whitehaven want to be connected to the city’s water because the aging water pipes and wells they connect to have long caused problems.

City officials are still weighing what options the city has to support Whitehaven, but mayor Gary Suiter said they should provide direction in the next week or two. I have.

If you would like to donate to the Routt County Workforce Housing Preservation Fund, please visit: YVCF.org Or send a check to YVCF-Workforce Housing Fund, PO Box 881869, Steamboat Springs, CO 80488.

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