St. Vincent De Paul invests millions into Saginaw Mobile Home Park
COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. – Saginaw Mobile Home and RV Park near Cottage Grove is under new management and major improvements are on the way.
On Monday, St. Vincent De Paul announced they bought the park for $1.35 million from Michael Brown of Oakland.
The agency funded the purchase with a grant from the Oregon Housing and Community Services Manufactured Park Preservation program, a loan from the Network Oregon Affordable Housing and a grant from the Affordable Housing Program.
Officials with the nonprofit say the park needs a lot of work. They plan on spending $1.7 million on improving it.
Saginaw Mobile Home Park sits on Highway 99N, between Cottage Grove and Creswell.
There are 41 units and about 100 people living at the park.
Officials with SVDP said the park has a troubled history of crime and drug problems.
According to SVDP, Previous owners resisted Lane County orders to clean up the property, obtain building and electrical permits and fix a failing septic system.
The park was under scrutiny for years by the state’s Department of Environmental Quality because of problems with its water supply.
On at least two occasions, the county ordered that the park be closed because of violations, but previous owners managed to avoid closure.
"A lot of problems over the years with arsenic in the water, sewage issues. Many of the units are rundown and some are almost uninhabitable," said Paul Neville with St. Vincent De Paul Society of Lane County.
SVDP has big plans for the 14-acre park and they’re starting from the ground up.
"You know, the dirt roads are going to change from what I hear. There's a lot of improvements going to be done. I’ve been here for two months now so I’m looking forward to the new change,” said resident Michael Chastain.
Neville said the mobile home park will get a new community room, office space, bathrooms, signage, lighting, and playgrounds for the 30 kids in the park.
“For the kids to be out here playing and running around you got to pretty much keep an eye on them at all times. They don't have anywhere to play right now except they have to play in the street,” said Chastain.
SVDP’s acquisition of Saginaw park is one of a series in recent years that are part of the nonprofit’s efforts to preserve and revitalize Oregon’s shrinking stock of mobile home parks, which are a critically important source of affordable housing for low-income families.
Saginaw is the nonprofit’s sixth mobile home park.
Other SVDP parks include the Garfield Apartments and Trailer Park in Eugene, Harwoods Mobile Manor north of Santa Clara, the Hillcrest and Oakridge mobile home parks in Oakridge, and the Tivoli Mobile Home Park in Junction City.
The Eugene-based nonprofit is in the process of adding more parks to its inventory, including the Oak Leaf Mobile Home Park in northeast Portland.
According to SVDP, Saginaw park’s troubled past is one reason that SVDP is purchasing it.
The agency’s recent park acquisitions have been aimed at providing residents with a better, safer place to live.
Three years ago SVDP bought the 63-space Oakridge Mobile Home Park.
Before SVDP purchased the park, it was the source of more than half the police calls in Oakridge.
Since then, the number of crime reports have dropped from an average of four a day to three or four a month.
SVDP officials say all across Oregon, mobile home parks are dying and when they close, often times, residents end up on the streets.
"Our goal is to keep this housing, mobile home parks, intact, preserve them, and keep the residents in them,” said Neville.
SVDP says they plan on keeping rents affordable for low income tenants in the parks, all while improving living conditions.
SVDP officials will spend the next few weeks meeting with tenants, assessing units and updating paperwork.
Officials say serious construction won't start until late summer.
According to SVDP, social workers will be brought into the park right away to work with residents on the ownership transition, answer questions, and improve the health of the park.