Elk Run Heights trailer court residents being forced out - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Elk Run Heights trailer court residents being forced out

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ELK RUN HEIGHTS (KWWL) -

More than two dozen people could soon be homeless in Black Hawk County.

The city of Elk Run Heights recently purchased the land now home to a trailer court, and residents there have until June 30 to pack up and move out.

Some residents in the Elk Run trailer court didn't even know the property was for sale until they found out the city bought it.

On Monday night, the Elk Run Heights City Council voted to pursue new development on the land and give trailer court residents 150 days to find a new place to live.

Howard Honicker has lived in his Elk Run Heights mobile home for three years. It was a last resort to find affordable housing during some tough times.

"The past few years I've gone through a lot of turmoil, through divorce and a lot of other things, the loss of a business," he said. "And my credit since the loss of the business is bad."

While it's not ideal, he considers this place home. But this week, Honicker learned he and residents of the other 20 homes in this trailer court will soon be forced to leave.

Was he concerned he would become homeless?

"I am," Honicker said. "I don't have many options. A lot of bridges have been burned over the past few years with all that I've gone through."

The City of Elk Run Heights bought the land and plans to pursue new housing development on the property.

Residents are upset because the city never served them a notice of its plans or about meetings discussing the issue.

"They should've at least given us some notice, a letter or something telling us we're moving," said resident Tammy Davis.

The mayor insists the process was fair, and residents have been given ample time to find a new place to live.

"We feel like six months is adequate notice to give them time to start the plans to work on it," said Mayor Gary Wurtz of Elk Run Heights. "And if they have any issues, they can certainly come down to City Council or talk to me as mayor, and we'll certainly accommodate them the best we can."

But residents say it's not a matter of time; it comes down to money. Many trailer court residents are elderly, disabled and low-income. Every penny is hard to come by, so moving will be no easy task.

"We don't even have a vehicle," Davis said. "We ask (others) for rides everywhere. We can't afford a vehicle. I just don't understand why they're doing this to us when they know they know we don't have anywhere to go."

The city paid about $140,000 for the trailer court property, which was not a previously budgeted expense. Currently, Elk Run Heights does not have a prospective developer, but believes with other new housing additions in the area, it will be an attractive property.

Mayor Wurtz says removing the trailers will improve the city's appearance, and ultimately bring higher-valued properties onto the tax rolls.

The city is not offering compensation to trailer court residents to help them re-locate.  But Mayor Wurtz insists city staff will do anything they can to help find them new homes and extend the time they can stay at the trailer court if needed.

The city's not sure what other costs it might incur in demolishing the trailers or preparing the site for development.

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