The Register Guard (Eugene, Oregon)
Springfield will study an assistance program for Glenwood residents
By: Saul Hubbard
September 25, 2012
SPRINGFEILD -- Having targeted Glenwood as an area where they will try to foster new residential and commercial development, the Springfield City Council now faces long-term questions about what type of assistance, if any, it should provide to some current inhabitants who could be displaced by those plans.
Glenwood has a total of eight mobile and manufactured home parks -- the highest density in the Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area -- with 441 occupied residences. It is inevitable, city officials say, that new development will eventually replace at least a few of those parks and uproot some of those residents.
In 2007, the state Legislature imposed new rules on manufactured home park landlords that require them to give residents at least one year's notice of a closure and pay departing tenants between $5,000 and $9,000, depending on the size of their home.
Additionally, some tenants in that situation can be eligible for a state tax credit of $5,000.
But should the city do more to help offset a forced displacement, some Springfield officials wonder, particularly as Glenwood's mobile home parks include many people living in travel trailers or campers that wouldn't be eligible for the state reimbursement program.
Although no parks are currently slated for closure, this is "an ongoing topic" that "requires continuous discussion," city Urban Renewal Planner Courtney Griesel told the City Council at a work session Monday evening.
The council gave the city staff the green light to begin the process of implementing a new assistance program, specifically designed for helping those affected by manufactured home park closures.
That assistance may include additional one-time payments -- depending on the age, condition and type of mobile home -- as well as help locating new housing or a new park, and reimbursement of moving costs.
Based on a similar program in Eugene, city staff estimates such a program could cost Springfield approximately $10,000 per residence. Urban renewal funds specifically set aside to help facilitate development in Glenwood could be used for that purpose, Griesel said.
The City Council also agreed to consider offering incentives for developers or nonprofit organizations that build replacement housing or set up new mobile home parks for displaced residents. Those incentives could include system development charge waivers -- fees normally assessed on all new construction projects -- or an allotment of the city's annual community development block grant dollars.
When closures happen, "we have to ensure that there is some low-income housing available," said Councilor Hillary Wylie.
Although both proposals would cost the city money, Councilor Joe Pishioneri said any new development replacing manufactured homes in Glenwood would bring an "instantaneous increase" in city tax revenue.
"I see it as a win-win," he said.
Added Mayor Christine Lundberg: "We opened the door ... for redevelopment. We do have an obligation" to help with relocation.
Councilor Dave Ralston disagreed, stating he was unsure why the city should be on the hook for additional costs.
"It's not our responsibility," he said. "We don't have money."
Griesel said city staff will now focus on an outreach program designed to get feedback and information from the residents of the manufactured home parks. The city wants to get a clearer picture of the types of alternative housing those residents might be interested in, as well as how many residents would move their home to another park and how many would leave the structure behind if they left, she said.
Lundberg said the city is "trying to be proactive, (and) find what will be most beneficial to everyone involved."