Mobile home residents say the face eviction, property owner denies claims

Some residents in a large mobile home park in north San Jose are worried about the future after the company that operates Westwinds Mobile Home Park sent out a letter warning them they're facing eviction in 2022.

However, the property owner says that's not the case.

The residents are in the middle of a fight between between MHC, which operates the mobile home park, and The Nicholson Family Partnership, which has owned the property for more than a century.

MHC's letter comes as a long-term lease between the two is about to expire, and Nicholson has expressed interest in making changes.

Last week, MHC sent out a letter to all residents saying the property owner “...has demanded that the property be returned to them upon the expiration of MHC’s leases free of all the residents.”

Ruby Smith, 76, who has lived her mobile home for 27 years, was one of the residents who received the letter and got upset.

"My initial reaction was where the hell am I going to go? I can't afford anything right now," said Smith.

Another resident, Chontel Fernandez, says she and her husband were able to move their family to the complex a few years ago because they pay $1,400 a month, compared to twice that amount in the surrounding area.

"I have...four kids so we are like, what do we do? Do we we move out of state? Do we stay here? The Bay Area is so expensive. This was our saving grace," said Fernandez.

The Nicholson family issued a statement, saying it is exploring "more stable and viable long-term housing options" but disputed MHC's claims.

"We find it shameful that they have opted to incite panic and fear among mobile home residents as part of the company's legal strategy. That being said, the Nicholson family wants to unequivocally reassure the residents that we are on their side; completely sympathetic to their situation and have no plans whatsoever to displace anyone,” said Bruce Nicholson, co-manager of the partnership, in a statement.

1,600 residents live in the single-story homes on the sprawling property which is dwarfed by large apartment complexes and tech companies.

City Council member Lan Diep says the city had been looking at designating the land for mobile home-use only, but says he's interested in exploring if there is a way for residents to stay and also develop higher-density housing.

"We know San Jose is a growing city. We know we need more housing overall all across the city so if there's an opportunity to build more housing already living there, I want to see where that discussion goes," said Liep.

As for Smith, she calls mobile home parks the last affordable option in the Bay Area.

"'Cause there's really nothing I can do. I just have to wait and see what happens," said Smith.

MHC filed a lawsuit on Dec. 30, 2019 against the property owner, with their 25-year-long lease agreement set to expire in August 2022.