The door will soon close for good on the last mobile home park on North Atherton Street.
Residents at Franklin Manor, a holdout from a different era, have until the end of the month to find a new place to live.
Natalie Corman, Centre County Adult Services director, said most of the 22 families that once called the park home have made the move. Those remaining are working out the final details on where they will go next.
As of Friday, four families have yet to move, said Jennifer Stahl, housing case manager for Housing Transitions, which has been working closely with those displaced by the closure.
“Time is running out and there are many obstacles to overcome in securing stable housing for the remaining families,” Stahl said in an email.
It’s a stressing situation for them, Stahl said.
“These residents need financial assistance to move and most importantly need to locate and secure permanent affordable housing,” she said. “Securing affordable housing in Centre County is a difficult task.”
Affordable housing, or the lack of it, has long been an issue in the Centre Region. It’s been exacerbated in recent years by the closure of several mobile home parks and fires that have destroyed apartment stock in State College and Bellefonte.
Some residents of Franklin Manor worked within walking distance of the park. Others sent their children to the State College Area School District. When it was announced earlier this year that the park would close, they worried about finding housing close to their jobs and in the district, a difficult task because of housing prices in the area and a competitive rental market.
Corman said a number of families who lived in the park were able to pool resources and move in together where they could find housing. Others had to move out of the Centre Region to make ends meet.
Stahl said Housing Transitions records indicate that all of the residents who have vacated the park were able to remain in the county, although some have moved to Bellefonte, Centre Hall, Julian and Port Matilda.
“It is very difficult to come up with security deposit, first-month rent, last-month rent and other fees/costs associated with moving,” Stahl said. “This becomes even more challenging for low-income households.”
That’s where organizations like Stahl’s come in. Housing Transitions has been working closely with the families, helping them find appropriate housing and, when necessary, providing financial resources from the displaced residents fund.
“We are still working with a few households in Franklin Manor to secure housing before October 1, and they will certainly need financial assistance to do so,” Stahl said. “Also, the availability of affordable units for low-income families is a constant need in Centre County.”
Under state law, residents are provided with about $2,500 from the owner of the park to help them move. But there is some uncertainty regarding those payments because of the Aug. 18 death of the park owner, Ed Temple.
Stahl said in an email that, as far as she knows, neither residents nor the safety net agencies helping them have received any information or announcement about who is managing Temple’s estate or who now owns the property.
“It is my understanding that the residents ... who owned their mobile homes are guaranteed by law $2,500,” Stahl said. “I am not aware of the ways in which the death of the owner of a mobile home park might complicate this legislation, if at all.”
Housing Transitions, she said, is helping residents apply for financial assistance from the displaced residents fund set by Interfaith Human Services. The fund is intended to help all park residents, not just mobile home owners, she said.
Corman said she hasn’t heard concerns about the money from park residents. The residents, instead, are grieving the loss of Temple, who was close with many in the park, she said.
“They were upset by the loss of Mr. Temple,” Corman said. “That community really considers themselves family. That was really difficult for them as well. For them, it’s just one more additional trauma in the last six months.”