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from Fearing displacement, Euclid Beach Mobile Home Park residents form union, demand to stay

Posted August 31, 2022
1:20 pm

The following is coverage from in August 2022 about the potential displacement of Euclid Beach Mobile Home Park residents.  Click here to read the Legal Aid statement prepared for the February 13, 2023 news conference.


CLEVELAND, Ohio – Facing a possible exodus from their long-time homes, residents of a lakefront mobile home park in North Collinwood have formed a tenant union and are demanding to stay in place. And if they are forced to leave, residents are demanding ample time for planning -- and compensation for the homes they may lose.

The United Residents of Euclid Beach, formed by residents of the Euclid Beach Mobile Home Park in an Aug. 3 vote, issued their demands in an Aug. 9 letter to Western Reserve Land Conservancy. The conservancy bought the community in December from its owner of four decades, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Moore Enterprises.

The conservancy is a local non-profit that aims to increase public access to nature through land conservation and protection. It bought the 28.5-acre mobile home park to keep it out of the hands of a private developer, which could’ve erected a luxury high-rise or other housing project that ate up what officials view as one of the last slices of Cleveland waterfront property that’s prime for public access to Lake Erie.

The growing tension between the tenants union and land conservancy represents two clashing, yet well-intentioned, positions: On one side, residents want to keep their homes, which offer affordable living in a city where such housing is hard to come by. The land conservancy, meanwhile, is eyeing the possibility of expanding the neighboring Metroparks property onto some or all of the grounds of the mobile home park, so the public can have more lakefront access for years to come.

“They got this land they could sell to the Metroparks, and turn it from private to public to create more green space. That makes sense, right?” said 15-year mobile home park resident A. Stephen Beard, 58. “The only problem is, there happens to be 150 people who live here.”

The conservancy is now midway through a planning process to determine the park’s future and potential development plans for the surrounding area along Lakeshore Boulevard. The study has included input from mobile home park residents and the greater Collinwood and Cleveland communities and is expected to be complete by the end of this year.

In its Aug. 23 response letter, the conservancy did not promise mobile home park residents could stay in their homes permanently, nor did it concede to demands that they be given three years’ notice before they’d have to leave, as well as “reasonable and generous” payments to relocate and pay higher future rents.

Rather, it reiterated a previously made pledge that it wouldn’t require tenants to relocate until at least December. And it listed various efforts on its part that would help the park’s largely low-income residents find new places to live.

“The Western Reserve Land Conservancy has a unique opportunity to help our community thrive and grow into an affordable, safe, and comfortable place -- or to act as yet another out-of-touch developer, trampling over the homes and lives of locals in the name of vague promises of ‘progress,’” the tenant union stated in its letter.

Euclid Beach Mobile Home Park

The mobile home park was established in the 1980s after the 1969 closure of the Euclid Beach amusement park. It is wedged between land owned and leased by the Metroparks known as Villa Angela Park, Wildwood Marina and Euclid Beach Park, which includes the only public beach on the city’s East Side. A Cleveland Public Library property, also wedged between the Metroparks, houses a distribution facility that will be relocated by 2024.

Many mobile home park residents have lived in the location for years. Its population includes seniors, lower-income individuals and families, and others on fixed incomes.

Once the mobile home itself is paid off, residents pay roughly $400 per month to rent their lots, including water, Beard said. He and fellow resident Mary Johnson, 57, described the community as a safe, affordable place to live that also comes with picturesque surroundings.

Challenges of moving

Johnson’s mobile home is a model from 1967, and she suspects it hasn’t been moved since around that time. She and her husband, who both work in retail, bought it outright 10 years ago, thinking they’d stay there for the rest of their lives. Her husband is disabled.

If they are forced to leave, there’s a good chance the home won’t be able to move with them.

Its frame and wheels are long-buried alongside an attached patio. If moved, there’s the risk of the frame cracking or getting damaged.

Wheels are susceptible to dry-rot, said Beard, and vehicle components, including the chassis, likely gave out long ago for many homes in the park.

Johnson said many other mobile home parks won’t allow older models like theirs to move in. And even if they did, the cost of hiring a company to move such a home can range several thousand dollars.

“Even if it cost $1,000 – that would be virtually impossible for most people here,” Beard said.

Challenges of staying

The mobile home park has room for roughly 300 homes, but occupancy has decreased in recent years and roughly half of the “pads” are now unoccupied.

Under Moore Enterprises’ decades-long ownership, the property was poorly maintained, said local Councilman Mike Polensek. Matt Zone, the land conservancy’s senior vice president and director of its Thriving Communities Institute, described the company as a “derelict landlord.”

Many homes are now abandoned or in poor shape, feral cats roam the property, and water lines, which date back to the amusement park days, are in serious disrepair. Other infrastructure problems loom.

The prior owner had been charging residents for the full price of water, even though more than half of it had been leaking into the ground via faulty pipes long before it reached anyone’s home, Zone said. The result was a 2018 class action lawsuit and out-of-court settlement for lost water consumption, he said.

When Polensek learned Moore Enterprises was ready to sell the property last year, he asked the owner about what would happen to residents -- and their hard-to-move homes.

“He said, ‘That’s not our problem’,” Polensek recalled.

Officials say it was only the second time in 120 years the property had been up for sale.

Polensek recruited the land conservancy to buy it before a private buyer swooped in. He said that’s a situation that could’ve forced residents out of their homes almost immediately or resulted in rent spikes from profit-seeking investors, which has been a trend at mobile home parks nationwide in recent years.

“I didn’t want the situation to arise where people were given the eviction notices, forced out of there, and put out on the street,” Polensek said.

The land conservancy says it has tried to do right by residents since buying the property. Since December, it has spent $90,000 to add individual water meters to each property to ensure residents are not overpaying, plus thousands more on tree removal, pothole repairs, street sign replacements, new security cameras, management, and veterinary and re-homing services for the cats, Zone said.

But the conservancy’s long-term goal hasn’t changed: it wants to provide more public access to the lake and shoreline.

“When a once-in-a-generation opportunity arises to acquire rare and socially valuable lakefront property, we feel it is our moral obligation to do all that we can to protect that property, make it publicly accessible, and do so in a fair, just and equitable manner to all those involved,” the conservancy stated in its letter.

Next steps

The land conservancy expects to know by December the fate of the mobile home park. While keeping it in place and unchanged is still technically on the table, Zone said that outcome is unlikely.

“I don’t see the final conclusion of this study saying keep it as-is, because of all of the deferred maintenance,” he said.

The study underway could recommend closure of the entire park or a “significant” portion of it, he said.

Last December, the conservancy promised residents they’d have at least one year’s notice before they’d potentially have to leave. Now, just a few months out from that deadline, Beard’s concern is growing.

That’s why he and other residents formed the tenant union and issued their list of demands, including at least three years’ notice before they would have to leave.

“Our greatest resource are the people who live there already. Their homes and livelihoods should come first in any development that’s happening. It’s a lack of innovation and creativity to not believe you could provide community access to Lake Erie that also respects and maintains the homes of people who live on that land,” said Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Executive Director Chris Knestrick.

Both Beard and Johnson suspect the conservancy’s ultimate decision will result in them having to leave, so they fear they won’t have enough time to plan or save money for relocation.

Zone said the conservancy didn’t agree to the request to issue three-years’ notice because it won’t know what will come of the property until the planning process is complete later this year. He told it will be a “multi-year” process if the entire park is closed and said there was “absolutely” no chance residents would be forced out in December. “It’s going to be multiple years” before they would have to go, Zone told

The conservancy, in its response letter to the tenant union, did not make similar guarantees, however. The letter only reiterated the promise that tenants wouldn’t have to leave before December.

Said Knestrick: “Residents made eight concrete asks. I felt like none of the [conservancy’s] responses came with concrete answers or commitments for change.”

Residents in limbo

Some residents are already working with the land conservancy to sell their homes and leave, potentially to other mobile home parks.

But the costs of relocation -- and the potential loss of thousands of dollars already invested into homes – is a frightening unknown for others. It is for Johnson, who said the prospect of moving “scares the hell out of me.”

Johnson said she and her husband don’t qualify for typical housing assistance because they earn too much, so they’re not sure where they’ll go or how they’ll afford it.

Beard, who paid off his home in 2020, wondered whether he’d have to move into his RV.

The conservancy isn’t promising to fully reimburse residents for paid-off homes, but Zone said it has committed “to build out a funding strategy, potentially where we could help people with relocation services” if the mobile home park is partially or fully closed.

It’s also promising other kinds of help.

The conservancy hired a full-time Eden Housing staffer to help residents come up with individualized housing relocation plans and help connect them with government and non-profit assistance, if applicable, Zone said. It’s seeking money from the United Way to connect older residents with free legal services.

It’s also working with the City of Cleveland on a plan to reserve vacant land bank lots within a half-mile for relocation, and with the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority, “which is setting aside units for qualified residents” of the mobile home park, its letter states.

Johnson’s skeptical of a return to renting, after spending many years as a homeowner.

“Apartments these days cost $800, $900, and you don’t have the home ownership you have here. It’s different when you’re renting to maintain your own home than it is to pay somebody else’s mortgage,” she said.

For his part, Beard wants clarity. “It’s just better overall to be as transparent as possible as early as possible,” he told “This whole situation can be summed up in one word: uncertainty.”


Source: - Fearing displacement, Euclid Beach Mobile Home Park residents form union, demand to stay

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