Austin Interfaith & Mobile Home Residents Win Major Protections
Last July, Hidden Valley / High Meadows (mobile home) residents became distressed when lot rents for people on month-to-month leases were raised for the second time within a 12-month period. New rules mandated improvements and standardizations — adding new costs to residents — including deck and railing upgrades, paint jobs, skirting repair, shed standardization, and control over inside window coverings. Families were asked to demonstrate possession of a drivers’ license to drive on the property, impacting hundreds of residents. Many families scrambled to comply; some left.
A couple residents reached out to the pastor of their church, a member congregation of Austin Interfaith, and their local councilperson who called in Austin Interfaith and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) for support. Within two months, resident officers founded their association (Hidden Valley / High Meadows Residents’ Association) and signed up over 200 households as members.
On December 10, after months of negotiation and tough conversations, the HVHMRA signed a historic accord with their landlord, Scott Roberts of Roberts Communities. The accord locked in many protections, including the right to organize residents’ associations that represent the interests of mobile home park residents, the first rent control concession in a mobile home park of Austin (locking in no more than 5% increases through 2017 and rent increase caps in subsequent years) and protections for undocumented immigrant residents.
Minutes before the item came up for discussion, Austin Interfaith leaders shepherded the signing of this agreement between HVHMRA officers and landlord Scott Roberts.
The accord not only afforded protections for residents of Hidden Valley / High Meadows, it formed the basis of a ‘mobile home regime’, or framework for landlord-resident relations, for future mobile home parks in Austin.
City Council: Keep ‘Em Waiting, Austin Chronicle