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Eviction moratorium benefits Napa mobile home dwellers

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Mobile homes

People who live in mobile homes – often among the most vulnerable residents in Napa County and elsewhere – are breathing a metaphorical sigh of relief with the latest order by Gov. Gavin Newsom, which appears to protect them and others against eviction and foreclosures through May 31.

The moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, while not specifying any particular type of renter or rental property says “the order prohibits landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent and prohibits enforcement of evictions by law enforcement or courts. It also requires tenants to declare in writing, no more than seven days after the rent comes due, that the tenant cannot pay all or part of their rent due to COVID-19.”

Mobile home residents are a slightly different breed in that they often own or are buying the house, but are renting the space it sits on.

Tom Bartee, spokesman for Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, says while the order doesn’t speak specifically to mobile home owners renting space, the prohibition on eviction court cases will prevent those actions even as specifics are being clarified. Solano County issued its own similar order, adding another level of protection, he said, adding that though Napa County appears not to have done the same, the statewide prohibition should suffice to protect residents.

“I applaud the Governor taking action to ensure that all Californians are able to remain in their homes during these unprecedented times,” Napa County Supervisor Belia Ramos said.

Terri Pohrman, longtime mobile home resident advocate, and president of the Vallejo Mobile Home Coalition, said she knows people are increasingly anxious as rents are coming due, and offers whatever advice she can to anyone who calls the Vallejo Mobile Home Coalition at 707-648-6155.

The pause on evictions won’t solve a mobile home resident’s chronic problems, such as those of Jessie Haight, a 72-year-old disabled woman who is struggling not only with the space rent near Lake Berryessa, but also with resupplying her pantry. She said she is living on a $1,600 per month Social Security check, while the rent on the space containing her home is $1,100.

“There are no stores up here, and I’ve been living on cereal, and I’m about out of milk,” she said during a recent telephone interview. “It’s probably 25 miles to the closest real store – in downtown Napa. And since we don’t go that often, when we do, there’s hardly anything there. We’re all staying home and doing what we can. A break would help a lot.”

Haight said she lives alone and is getting by as best she can.

“I’m bored as heck, but otherwise OK,” she said. “This is just crazy. And it’s nobody’s fault. I never thought I’d live to see something like this.”

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