The Leesburg Town Council directed staff last week to investigate potential options to save Leesburg Mobile Park after a dozen residents asked the council to protect their affordable mobile home community from an impending $11 million sale.
Residents — many of them Latino immigrants — first heard of the potential sale in early August. Property owner Carol Nuñez and property manager Carol Konkel mailed out a letter saying that a buyer had offered to purchase the property where their mobile homes stand. It added that if 25 percent of the 75 households could bring a counter-offer within 60 days, the sale would be called off.
Vice Mayor Fernando “Marty” Martinez said there’s no reason in Loudoun County “that we should ever have anybody scared about trying to find a place to live.”
A letter dated Sept. 15 and recently shared with residents of Leesburg Mobile Park identified the potential buyer as Crescent Mobile Partners LLC. The letter claims that the property could be purchased by the end of this year, but “nothing would be done for at least a year” to the neighborhood after the sale closes.
A sign stating “this is my home and I’m not leaving” is held up outside of the Loudoun County Government Center on Sept. 8.
However, most residents doubt that the buyer would maintain the community, within walking distance of downtown Leesburg, as it is now.
“I get it’s a prime location,” said resident Erin Taylor. “But it’s hard not knowing.”
“It’s a huge surprise,” said Santos Esperanza, resident of 17 years, in Spanish. All three of his children grew up in their mobile home, and a nephew purchased a trailer down the street earlier this year.
Both Taylor and Esperanza said that the community is incredibly supportive. Neighbors bring food to each other when they are sick, help with lawn care and attend each other’s family parties.
If they do lose their homes, many residents have no clue where they would go. Even a modest Loudoun County apartment is too expensive for most. At Leesburg Mobile Park, they own their trailers and rent a plot for a few hundred dollars per month.
Local residents are calling on leaders to help in keep Leesburg Mobile Home Park from being sold. Residents protested the planned sale outside of the Loudoun County Government Center on Sept. 8. Times-Mirror/Nathaniel Cline
Moving their trailer isn’t a good option, either. Since the mobile homes are decades old, it would be both difficult and prohibitively expensive, several residents said.
To save their homes, residents, along with the help of community organizers like New Virginia Majority, held a march in downtown Leesburg and asked the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors for help on Sept. 8 before approaching Leesburg Town Council.
Sofia Saiyad, a coalition organizer for New Virginia Majority, said that Leesburg’s town plan put the community in jeopardy in the first place.
According to Legacy Leesburg, the town’s current 10-year plan, Leesburg Mobile Park isn’t on the map. Instead, the area is slated for townhomes.
“We know there just is not affordable housing here [in Loudoun],” Saiyad said.
Maria Garcia, a resident who participated in the downtown march and spoke to both the Board of Supervisors and Leesburg Town Council, said that three townhomes would fit on her lot.
“The buyer and the seller aren’t thinking about us,” Garcia said in Spanish. Garcia and her husband, both business owners, have raised four sons in their mobile home. “It would harm our children to change schools.”
Garcia added that acquaintances who live in area apartments deal with overcrowding, pests and crime, but Leesburg Mobile Park has none of these issues.
Neither Crescent Mobile Partners LLC nor the property owners could be reached for comment.
For Vice Mayor Martinez, who grew up in affordable housing in California, the residents’ plight hits close to home. He said he has wanted the town to take concrete steps toward providing more affordable dwelling units and hopes staff will be able to preserve the community as-is or find a property where the residents could move their mobile homes.
“We have to think outside the box. We have got to stop using the box as a reason not to do something,” he said.
Meanwhile, the residents of Leesburg Mobile Park continue to plan with organizers from New Virginia Majority.
Saiyad suggested that some of Leesburg’s options could include rezoning the property or partnering with the county to create a land trust.
For Garcia, the next step is encouraging her neighbors to keep up the fight. Chatting in her newly renovated kitchen, Garcia urged a neighbor to attend a meeting at the community’s playground to discuss the latest letter.
“Querer es poder,” Garcia said. Or, translated into English, “Wanting is power.”