GREENSBORO — The single mother battling cancer and the husband and wife awaiting the birth of their baby were among those protesting Tuesday on Battleground Avenue in front of their landlord’s office.
Some said they had no choice. Their mobile home community is closing because the property is under contract to a developer that plans to build apartments.
If that sale goes through, 18 homeowners and renters will be displaced.
Those people — some who have lived in their homes for two decades — say they can’t just pick up their lives and move.
Carrying signs, the residents of Jamison Mobile Park Homes and their supporters rallied near Family Properties, where they also carried an oversized letter asking the company for not just compassion during a pandemic, but an opportunity for the homeowner’s association to buy the property.
“It’s not that simple — we can’t just move,” said Miguel Ángel Medina García, whose wife is due to give birth.
As they spoke, the niece of the longtime owner of the mobile home park on Hiatt Street arrived, asking them to leave. When they continued, she called police, who asked the group to move to the sidewalk.
“I implore you to do what is good,” a protestor pleaded as Lynne Anderson stood there with envelopes for the families in her hands.
The Hiatt Street property is already under contract with new owners who plan to build apartments there. The families say it has been hard to find another place within the city limits to move their mobile homes.
Anderson said her aunt, who died recently, stipulated in her will that the property be sold and the proceeds divided among her grandchildren.
“We are simply trying to do that,” said Anderson, who is the executor.
Those involved agree that the Jamison property has been a tight-knit, affordable mobile home community within the city limits for decades and has been especially attractive to immigrants since the 1990s. The owner, Shirley Todd Jamison, who worked in the Guilford County Health Department, spent nearly four decades in Latin America as a nurse and missionary. She died in March 2017.
Anderson said that the process for rezoning the land for apartment use has been public, as required by law. A notice of the meeting was placed on the property, she said.
In a sad twist, supporters say, residents had gathered around the sign on the day of the rezoning meeting thinking that’s where it would be held.
“They have freedom of speech, but I think it’s wrong what they are doing,” Anderson said of the protests.
Advocates for the community say that in their rezoning request, the family did not mention the mobile home community located on the property.
“We won’t sit idly while we are being displaced,” said Laura Garduño of Siembra NC, a Latinx advocacy group that was joined in support for the families by a crowd of about 70 people, including Guilford County Commissioner Mary Beth Murphy and members of the American Friends Service Committee.
While the families living at Jamison were initially asked to vacate the property within 30 days, Anderson said that the time has been extended to Jan. 1.
Anderson added that she is being wrongly portrayed and says she has tried to help residents relocate.
“We are not trying to make them homeless,” Anderson said. “They are trying to force our sale not to go through.”
But people like Meily Molina, who has lived in the park for 14 years, says there’s no option other than to fight for her home and family. The youngest of her four children is 2, and she uses available public transportation to get to her chemotherapy appointments.
Francisca Gonzalez says it has been devastating for her family to go through. The children are worried “and cry themselves to sleep,” she said.
Contact Nancy McLaughlin at 336-373-7049 and follow @nmclaughlinNR on Twitter.