Housing woes persist as Patton Township mobile home park closes

Residents of the Franklin Manor Mobile Home Park, in Patton Township, were supposed to move out by Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014.
Residents of the Franklin Manor Mobile Home Park, in Patton Township, were supposed to move out by Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. CDT photo

The trailers of the Franklin Manor Mobile Home Park stand mostly empty now, with some scattered reminders of the families that once lived there.

Denny Harvey Sr., 61, still had a few things to clear out of his former home Wednesday. Harvey, who is known for selling bicycles along North Atherton Street, put up a sign in his yard to announce that the bikes had been moved to his new residence.

“It rained yesterday,” Harvey said. “We couldn’t get anything out. All my furniture is out. I just have a few more boxes, and my daughter is going to help me with my refrigerator.”

Harvey will leave his residence of 13 years for a home on nearby Lauck Street, he said. Although no one will show up to physically remove him from the trailer, time has run out for the residents of the park.

Wednesday was the deadline for the park residents to find new homes. A letter was sent by former owner Ed Temple in March announcing the closure and the final date.

Residents, including Harvey, were supposed to receive $2,500 from the owner to help with moving costs according to state law. But Harvey, said, payments were delayed due to Temple’s death on Aug. 18.

In the meantime, he said, he turned to Interfaith Human Services for monetary help and received a payment for about $1,700 once housing was secured and he started moving.

Interfaith Executive Director Ruth Donahue said the service realized there was a great need for financial resources after the closure of the Penn State Mobile Home Park in 2012.

“Many people are being displaced who are in low-income brackets,” she said “They pay their bills, they hold down jobs, but there is very little left at the end of the month to save for big events like this.”

Interfaith has received about $71,600 in contributions since December 2012 to help displaced families, she said. To date, about $57,000 has been paid out.

“One hundred percent of what we take in is paid right back out,” Donahue said.

According to Ron Quinn, executive director of Centre County Housing Transitions, only three families remain on the park site of the 22 that were there when the closure was announced.

“It’s a challenge to find appropriate affordable housing for these folks,” he said. “We still continue to work with these folks. I can’t say tomorrow we’ll have something for them, but we have to be honest with them and give them the best scenario.”

“Affordable housing continues to be a struggle in the region,” Adult Services Director Natalie Corman said in an email. “We do not have vacant affordable units in the county.”

When a situation like a mobile home park closure happens in the county, she said, there is an influx of residents looking for similar housing with similar costs. For some, finding housing based on factors such as cost, transportation or schooling means leaving the region. Some, like Harvey, were able to stay nearby.

Harvey’s remaining neighbors, the few who still call the park home, are still trying to get housing set up, he said.

“You do what you have to do to save up as much as you can,” he said. “I feel sorry for everyone.”