Babylon hires group to help mobile park residents facing eviction

Frontier Mobile Home Park in North Amityville on Frontier Mobile Home Park in North Amityville on March 11, 2014. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

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Babylon Town has hired a nonprofit organization to assist residents of a North Amityville mobile home park who face eviction at the end of the month.

Adelante of Suffolk County Inc., a service organization based in Central Islip, was hired last month to go door to door in a section of Frontier Mobile Home Park that is the first phase slated for redevelopment. The group's contract is for three months at a cost of $8,970 per month.

Residents were first notified of the 20-acre property redevelopment in February 2011. Developer R Squared Real Estate Partners of Plainview has received approval from the town to build 500 apartments and 42,000 square feet of retail in five phases on the site of more than 300 mobile homes.

Many of the homes in the 50-year-old park cannot be moved, according to residents, who pay about $600 per month to rent the land. R Squared has offered residents in the first phase a relocation plan consisting of $20,000 paid in 36 monthly installments or all at once in certain circumstances, once they vacate the property.

"It might not be the best plan for them, but it's the plan that's available," said Babylon Deputy Supervisor Tony Martinez. Six months ago, he said, residents of more than 100 homes received notice that eviction proceedings would begin after April 30.

"They have very limited rights as renters," Martinez said. He said that had the town not advocated on the residents' behalf, they could have been "thrown out on the street."

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Martinez said the town hired Adelante because of its Spanish and outreach skills to help "look out for the best interests of those who may not know how the system works."

Miriam Garcia, Adelante's executive director, said some residents don't realize that they are being evicted. Some wonder how the relocation money may impact their public assistance.

"We are basically there to help them understand what they are being offered and that time is running out," she said. Garcia said some residents have limited knowledge of written English and Spanish.

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She said residents are told to meet with Samuel Kramer, a Manhattan attorney who town spokesman Kevin Bonner said was hired by R Squared, to go over the relocation plan. Kramer previously worked for a group of residents seeking to fight the redevelopment. Since Adelante's visits, 27 residents have met with him, Garcia said.

Bonner said 39 residents have been approved for the relocation plan and 10 applications are under review, while 35 residents have not applied. Another 14 applications have been denied for reasons such as delinquent rent.

Of those approved, 16 have received either the full amount or monthly installments, Bonner said.

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