As inflation continues, people living in a mobile home park on DeLand’s south edge say they are facing a rent increase they simply cannot afford.
The residents in Lakeside Village now pay $360 each month to park their trailers or recreational vehicles on rather meager spaces, but in a few short weeks, that rent will rise 52 percent!
“October 1st is when it goes up $190 to $550,” Kathy Peebles said, referring to the pending hike in the charge of staying in Lakeside Village.
Peebles is currently unemployed and seeking work, and she and her neighbors are devastated.
This is Lakeside Village’s first rent increase since 2019, she noted.
“It was only supposed to go up 10 percent,” Jerry Dundon, a neighbor of Peebles, said.
Peebles and her neighbors were formally notified of the plan to raise the charge for living there in letters dated July 1.
“This serves as a 90-day notice of a lot rental increase for Lakeside Village Mobile Home Park. This lot rental amount increase will be [be] effective on October 1, 2022,” the letter reads.
“We have to have a 90-day notice by the [state] statute, which they did,” Peebles said.
She recalled the letters were placed in plastic bags and taped to the doors of each dwelling.
Located at 2700 S. Woodland Blvd., Lakeside Village is a mobile-home community intended for people 55 years of age and older. The pending rent hike threatens to drive out some who are already living on the edge of abject poverty.
“I’m on Social Security at $709 [per month]. That’s all I get,” Robert O’Neil, a disabled retiree, said.
O’Neil added he receives $200 per month in food stamps. While he is grateful for the extra assistance, he said it buys less each time he goes grocery shopping.
Dundon is in a similar situation.
“I get $200 a month in food stamps,” he said. “The food stamps are used up in about two weeks.”
“The more money we have coming in, the better we eat. The less money we have, the less better we eat,” Peebles said.
The rent increase comes, too, as electric bills are going up. As one more measure of austerity, Peebles said she uses her aging air-conditioning system only when the temperature inside her mobile home reaches 85 degrees F. Even so, her monthly bills are in the triple-digit range.
“They’re running about a hundred-and-a-half right now,” she added.
Lakeside Village has its problems, the people living there say. Although the property is within DeLand’s city limits — as shown on the most recent TRIM notice — the residents rely on wells for drinking water. Peebles and her neighbors say the water quality is such that they do not drink from the tap.
The residents also say their septic systems are problematic.
“The septic tanks don’t work right. The drain fields are really old,” O’Neil said.
The mobile homes are situated among mature and tall oak trees, whose thick boughs provide welcome shade. Peebles worries the trees or their limbs would fall in a hurricane, threatening lives and property. She said requests to have the trees trimmed have been ignored.
“They’re saying we’re going to let Mother Nature take them all down,” Peebles noted.
Still, despite the problems, the Lakeside Village residents are anxious about what lies ahead.
“We don’t want to get booted out of here,” Peebles said. “We have no place to go.”
“I don’t want to be homeless,” O’Neil said.
O’Neil added he had contacted other mobile home parks, and their rents are higher than what Lakeside Village now charges or will soon charge.
The Beacon attempted to contact the owner of Lakeside Village Mobile Home Park, but thus far we have received no word. The address of record is in Englewood, New Jersey. Cindy Nigh, the manager of the property, said she is “not at liberty” to provide the name of the owner and his/her contact information.
“I forwarded the information. That’s all I can do,” she told The Beacon, in response to a query to speak with the owner regarding the rent increase and its effect on the people in Lakeside Village.