Holding out hope
Residents celebrate holiday in mobile homes on eve of deadline to vacate.
By RACHAEL GRAY
Residents living on property recently acquired by Garden City Community College didn't let the possibility of utilities being shut off and them being forced to vacate their residences spoil their Easter weekend.
Saturday afternoon at the mobile home park, 1706 E. Spruce St., Victor Gamez and several other residents prepared to make carnitas while children kicked a soccer ball around.
Gamez said he's not leaving.
"I don't know if the electricity will be shut off. We're waiting for Sam's word," he said, referring to Sam Hermocillo, a spokesman for the group of residents.
Hermocillo agreed to help the residents because it's a cause he believes in.
The sale of the property at 1706 E. Spruce St. has gained local, state and national attention as tenants were told they had to be out by today. Most won't get to take their mobile homes anywhere, even out of the county.
According to Roberto Becerril, city planner, mobile homes have to be built in 1986 or later to be moved in the city.
"In the county, you can obtain a conditional use permit if they are older than 1986," he has said.
Mobile homes built between 1975 and 1985 can be moved within the county if the owners get a conditional use permit. But models built before 1975 cannot be relocated, he said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, one mobile home had been moved off its lot.
In February, residents and Hermocillo talked to the GCCC Board of Trustees about the mobile home park issue.
The property had been sold to the college in December, and tenants originally had until March 15 to vacate. They were then given until the end of March.
Hermocillo held a meeting with the residents on March 21 in one of the homes to discuss what is happening.
Several residents said they have looked for other places to live, but either can't find a place or don't have enough money for deposits.
Gamez said he's been looking but hasn't had any luck.
"No one has that kind of money right now. I don't know if my electricity will be shut off," he said.
Humberto Zamudio will be moving to Johnson City and working in concrete construction. Zamudio will leave his construction job in Garden City.
"It's something I had to do," he said in Spanish.
Bob Kreutzer, owner of the property, had previously said the tenants collectively are $12,000 behind on rent. He said if he had foreclosed and forced someone to move, he would never yield any money out of it because other mobile homes couldn't be added to the property.
GCCC's position on the sale has remained the same.
"We are the purchaser of the property. If it wasn't us it would have been someone else," GCCC President Herbert Swender has said.
GCCC Board of Trustees members and Swender said they are sympathetic to the situation and have met with Hermocillo, along with the college's attorney.
Gamez said Saturday afternoon that he doesn't know what's going to happen.
"We're just going to enjoy Easter weekend with our families," he said.