The Mt. Laurel Sun
Tricia Meadows, a small, quiet community of mobile homes located just off Church Road, has been home to many elderly and low-income families for 30 years. Due to an affordable housing agreement ending, that may change by year’s end.
In 1983, the township signed a document that allowed the community to be built as well guarantee that some of the homes would be offered to those families making a low income. That agreement will expire Dec. 31 and with that, Davis Enterprises, which manages the community, is permitted to lease those 46 properties used by low-income families at market value. For residents, that could mean an increase in rent to perhaps more than double what they are paying now.
Residents received a letter in mid-March from Davis Enterprises, informing them that the Mount Laurel II Affordable Housing agreement is due terminate in December. Because of that their rent is subject to an increase. Tricia Meadows is unique in that there are homeowners who also pay rent. This is due to the fact they own the home not the land it sits on.
Homeowners were also informed that their homes can be sold at market value, but they will have to pay Davis Enterprises 25 percent of any increase in the sale price over the initial purchase price.
Many residents view this as outrageous but Davis Enterprises contends that they are within their legal rights once the agreement ends on Dec. 31. Davis manages both low- and moderate-income properties at Tricia Meadows. The moderate income residents will not have a rent increase.
The biggest issue raised by residents is they claim to have known nothing about this agreement expiring until receiving the letter in March. According to multiple homeowners, they were not told about the possibility of this when purchasing their homes. Miriam Nase, president of Davis Enterprises, could not be reached for comment.
“The developer is well within their rights to convert the homes to market value.” She could not comment on specific residents’ claims that they were unaware the reduced-price leases would expire, other than to say, “if they had no idea their controls were expiring, that’s definitely concerning,” Mayor Linda Bobo said following the meeting on Monday May 13.
Many of the residents are elderly, on a fixed income made up of pensions and Social Security. They say any increase in rent will require them to move out, leaving their futures uncertain. Many worry that they do not have the money to move as they invested into Tricia Meadows and now may become a burden on members of their families. A representative of Davis Enterprises will be distributing another letter to residents with the contact information of housing assistance agencies in the area.
Bobo also said the affected residents should qualify for other low-income housing programs offered in Mt. Laurel. This did not appear to appease residents as they wondered aloud where they would be living this time next year.