BISBEE — Residents of Sieling’s Mobile Village mobile home park received surprise letters informing them they had to move out by Oct. 31.
Dean and Ramona Sieling, 66 and 79 respectively, who own the park, have to close due to medical reasons.
“I’m getting old and just can’t keep up with it anymore,” said Dean Sieling, who suffered a heart attack not long ago.
Sieling bought the 60-year-old mobile home park from his father and tried to maintain it as best he could. He made the tough decision to close and sent the eviction letters to the 37 families in the park.
Since the park’s leases are month to month, Sieling only had to legally give the tenants 30-day notices. So, the September eviction letter residents received thoroughly surprised them.
Those who owned their mobile homes were able to find a new space, but renters were not as lucky.
“I was in a panic,” said Samantha Loreto, whose family moved to the park two years ago.
Bisbee is in a housing crunch as people turn homes into bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals, reducing the availablity of residences. Without much in affordable, those on a fixed income or out of work are out of luck.
Loreto, a Bisbee native, and her husband, Anthony Mendez, have four children, one of whom is autistic. They are having a challenging time finding a place with three bedrooms in Bisbee or Sierra Vista in their price range. Both are out of work and have no savings to pay for a deposit and rental fee. They rely on rent assistance and food stamps to provide a roof over their heads and food on the table. The subsidized child credit they received over the past several months ends in December.
Making the matter worse is the October birthdays of two of her children. One was born close to Halloween and made it his favorite holiday, she said. He was not happy when he had to box up his Halloween decorations.
In order to qualify for housing assistance, they are required to have at least a three-bedroom home, she said. Most are rentals are $1,200 and higher, which they cannot afford. Their rent at the park was half that.
“This is hard for us. We could have used more time to find another place to rent,” Loreto said. “We can’t afford a first and last month’s rent, deposit, or U-Haul to move on such short notice. Two of my kids are homeschooled in special ed. With there being nothing available in town we are forced to look out of town for a rental and my two younger children may have to leave their school and friends. I feel so bad my children have to suffer and go through this.”
She ran a successful photography business until the pandemic arrived last year. Mendez was working for Southeastern Distributing Co. in Bisbee and was let go. Now he does yardwork for friends in between searching for a new home and career. He may have a job at the end of the month, but it’s in Sahuarita with Freeport McMoRan Inc. and that means moving the kids out of their comfort zone and into new schools in a new community.
A resident who has been at the park for eight years also is in a quandary. An elderly, disabled woman who wanted to be identified as “Sue” has had no luck finding a new place with a fenced yard for her 14-year-old small dog to call home. She’ll need a fenced yard like she has now for her dog, since she does not want to surrender her.
“I have no hope,” she said trembling while looking over at her dog and cat. “I don’t know what to do. The social workers have been trying, too, but they’re not much help. They could give us more time.”
Other residents of the park declined being interviewed for the story, but many said they were upset at the lack of time to find a new home and feel more notice should have been given.
Dean Sieling said he could consider extending the time to vacate the property on a case-by-case basis.
Loreto noted, “All we want is to ensure we can have a roof over our heads somewhere else before the 31st. If anyone can help with anything I would really appreciate it.”