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Deadline looms for Sandusky families

Register • Jun 24, 2013 at 5:42 AM

More than dozen families still face eviction and uncertainty as the city-imposed Aug. 1 deadline approaches when their water line gets turned off. 

"They had a meeting over here in the park two Saturdays ago. Everything they promised everybody over there didn't happen. They blew smoke up everyone's ... ugh ... if you you know what I mean. It's aggravating," nine-year resident Brenda Hosko said.

Click here to watch the video interviews with residents conducted Friday at the mobile home park. 

"I'm a working person. To think you're going to live somewhere the rest of your life and all of the sudden you've got that pulled out from underneath you. Then you have to basically double that pay to pick up and move your home to somewhere else.

"To me, I don't think that's fair and Joe Yost should have to pay for all of it," she said. "And he don't care."

Yost is a developer with city contracts that went bad when he declared bankruptcy a few years ago, including the Cold Creek Crossing housing development off Venice Road that cost taxpayers huge losses in revenue and expenditures.

Shane Thomas has lived in the park most of his life except for a four-year stint in the Marine Corp. 

"When I was young this place was actually decent, when Hoppers actually ran it," Thomas said. "Then it was taken over by someone else and it slowly went down hill a little bit. Then Joe Yost took over and it took a dive."  

Residents have receipts showing they paid their water bills to a management firm but the firm apparently did not use those funds to pay the city water bill. The residents also paid fees for trash collection and maintenance but it is also not clear how those funds were used.

Some Hoppers park residents have secured housing, or temporary housing in the hope they can find better options later. They're worried they might not be able to meet the Aug. 1 deadline. 

Sandusky city commissioner Diedre Cole was at the mobile home park on Friday and spent much of the week there after a June 15 article about the desperation of some residents still looking for suitable housing and the decision by some homeowners to deconstruct their mobile homes to sell for scrap.

A broken gas line was discovered Friday in one of the mobile homes that was stripped where a woman and her children were still living. Social services agencies aided the woman, Cole said, and she contacted the fire department and gas company to plug the open line.  

Cole, who recently moved her family from Hancock Street to Camp Street, said she planned to investigate every option available to assist residents in finding new housing, including legal aid in the disputes over the water bills and ownership titles for the mobile homes. 

Several residents who've lived at the park for years said they paid off their loans but were never able to get the titles from the management company or explanations for why they hadn't received the ownership documents. 

County records show ownership of the homes some residents believed they purchased in their monthly fees are titled to deceased owners, or previous purchasers.

Sandusky police Sgt. Dana Newell, chief of detectives, was at the park Friday. 

"There has been a complaint and we are investigating it," said Newell, who was photographing all areas of the park and the stripped mobile homes. He said more information would be provided when a report of the complaint is filed. 

The residents who spoke with the Register on Friday said they hadn't had much contact with anyone from the city except fire Chief Paul Ricci and Cole. There was a summit at the park June. 1 with county aid agencies, Ricci and other service organizations.

City officials have not provided updates or information about how the water bill could reach $50,000 without a previous or successful effort to collect the money the park residents paid the management company. 

City manager Nicole Ard replied to an inquiry from the Register with an email stating she would provide information at a later date. "I will have a letter for you next week," Ard wrote in the email. 

City commissioners Keith Grohe, Pervis Brown and ex officio mayor John Hamiltion did not respond to requests for their viewpoints. Commissioners Wes Poole and Julie Farrar were unavailable for comment.

Commissioner Jeff Smith posted his response to his personal Facebook page, which he uses as a public vehicle to post city information and criticize the Register's news coverage. 

"For months I have been working with tenants from this park, and was surprised to hear of the desperation," Smith posted. 

"The residents have been given plenty of notice and have been placed in contact with agencies and organizations that specialize in helping people. Our goal is to help these residents relocate with little to no trouble and to prevent more hardship."

The residents who spoke with the Register on Friday don't view the city's success at doing that quite the same way Smith does.

"I live paycheck to paycheck," Hosko said. "I don't have $5,000 to move my home. Not everybody has that kind of money." 

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