The Westside residents who live at Skyview Trailer Park, a 34-lot court at 1600 Cooley St., catercorner to Hollywood Trailer Park, don’t know what they’re going to do. Calling himself a “very frustrated landlord,” park owner James Loran sent out six-month eviction notices in October, telling residents to be out by April 30, 2018, as the Missoulian reported at the time. Residents quoted by the paper expressed dismay about where and how they would afford to move. A month and a half later, the North Missoula Community Development Corporation’s Hermina Harold is hearing the same refrain.
“Everybody I’ve talked to said they have no idea what they’re going to do,” Harold says. “A lot of people are trying to find places to move their trailer, but they most likely can’t move their trailer because [it’s] too old.”
Harold has been looking for ways to help NMCDC’s Skyview neighbors since the evictions were announced. She spoke with representatives from Neighborworks Montana and other service providers and concluded that the most helpful relief they could provide was emergency gap funding to offset moving expenses. In other words, cash.
NMCDC’s Skyview Eviction Fund has raised just shy of $1,000 in a month, which Harold plans to distribute evenly among residents who apply. Seven families have returned applications left on doorsteps so far, and Harold expects more to follow. Her goal, which she acknowledges is “lofty,” is to raise $10,000.
“I think maintaining our community as an inclusive place for people of all incomes is really important to maintaining Missoula’s character. Housing accessibility is a huge issue right now, and it’s getting worse,” she says.
Missoula has seen mass trailer park evictions before, including the redevelopment of so-called Felony Flats on South Third Street, which pushed families to campgrounds and other older (i.e., more affordable) parks such as Skyview and Hollywood. Harold says she’s talked with one Skyview resident who moved there after the Third Street court closed. At a recent event that NMCDC organized to connect Skyview residents with area housing and service providers, one resident mulled moving across the street to Hollywood, which has had its own well-publicized management problems and resident evictions.
Harold says NMCDC plans to collect money for the fund through January. Interested persons can donate at gofundme.com/skyview.