Westgate residents on the move

Ramon Rios | @RamonrSrpg | 850-623-2120 | rrios@srpressgazette.com
Melissa Nason speaks with Kyle Holley of Santa Rosa United Way regarding moving her trailer from Westagte to a new location. [Ramon rios | Press Gazette]

MILTON — Displaced residents of Westgate Mobile Home Park are making progress finding new places to live.

Santa Rosa United Way is helping tenants with the unexpected cost of moving using disaster funds. United Way grants and major gifts manager Kyle Holley said he contacted all 12 families individually. Seven have found new places to live while the rest are still looking.

The park's water was shut off July 13 by judicial order after the Florida Department of Health filed a civil complaint against owner Carla J. Lear. The failure of the septic tank caused raw sewage to flow onto open ground creating a health hazard. Lear did not make repairs and lost the property's permit to operate as a mobile home park and residents have to move.

"They all have incomes to pay rent and monthly bills," Holley said. What they do not have is the money for deposits plus first month's rent and the cost of moving their possessions Holley said. United Way is helping defray those expenses and reviewing leases, a normal procedure to ensure predatory renters are not taking advantage these families.

"The limit is just themselves as far as moving," Holley said. Once a family finds a new location to move to and brings in their paperwork for review they can receive financial aid. One resident that did not need assistance has already moved.

"There's a plan in place and it's working," Holley said.

So far, there has been no additional action from county leadership to set time limits on vacating the property. That is welcome news for two families that own their mobile homes. Moving a trailer to another location will cost more than deposits and rent.

Mobile home-owner Melissa Nason said things are at standstill for her.

"Hope is fading around here. I'm not selling it and not going to abandon it," Nason said regarding her trailer. Nason says she cannot afford to be a renter again because she is on a fixed income.

"I'm optimistically cautious," Nason said regarding United Way's ability to cover all her moving expenses. Nason would like to find a company willing to donate the relocation of her trailer saying. Once moved, she could take care of herself.