This week, the Austin City Council is set to vote on a rezoning case for a mobile home park in Montopolis. If approved, the change could force residents of some of Austin’s most affordable housing to find new homes.
Families who live in the Cactus Rose Mobile Home Park, a 23-acre site in East Austin, face an uncertain future. The park’s owner has applied for a zoning change with the city, which would allow for new residential and commercial development to go up on the property. Susana Almanza, of the local activist group PODER, has been advocating on behalf of Cactus Rose residents, trying to work out a plan for relocation.
“They want to all stay together. They want their children to continue growing up together, and everything that any other community wants, [that’s] exactly what they want,” Almanza said. “They want to stay together. They don’t want to break up the community.”
Almanza says organizers are working to find a site that could house a new trailer park, and they have some new tools to help. Earlier this month, the Austin City Council passed the Tenant Relocation Ordinance. It amends the city code to ensure that tenants who are displaced by new development are notified within a certain timeframe. In the case of mobile home residents, it’s 270 days. The ordinance also creates a program to provide financial assistance for residents who meet income requirements.
“We have to have as many tools as possible because this is going to continue to happen. Mobile homes are under siege throughout the city, the different districts you’ll see, and so we have to have a plan in place of how we’re going to assist the residents,” Almanza said.
Austin City Council Member Pio Renteria, who is Almanza’s brother, represents District 3, which includes the Cactus Rose Mobile Home Park. Renteria says the newly passed city budget includes funds to study best practices for implementing the ordinance. Renteria expects the effort to take about 150 days, helping to establish program guidelines and fees for developers.
“And, basically, what the tenant relocation does is we’re going to figure out how much they have to contribute, they deposit the money with the city, and we distribute it out to the people that are the ones that are going to be affected by the demolition or the move,” Renteria said.
Council members are set to vote on the rezoning case this Thursday.