Residents at a mobile home park in Dickinson, N.D., say management is giving them the boot to make room for oil companies with deep pockets.
Christie Mendenhall and a handful of her employees live in RVs at Heartland Homes Village in Dickinson. She said a manager slapped eviction notices on five of her employees’ doors this week because of permit technicalities, the Grand Forks Herald reported.
“They’re telling us that they can’t get a permit through the state to have fifth-wheels parked there,” Mendenhall said Wednesday. “Now they’re kicking everybody out.”
Val Fugett, general manager for Heartland, said the park is not evicting anyone, but residents are being told to leave.
“We’re simply terminating the leases,” she said. “We just had a temporary permit from the state that is expiring for those RVs.”
Approximately 40 residents will have to vacate the grounds, and their old plots will be replaced by manufactured homes, Fugett wrote in an email.
“The plan has been cast, the investment has been made and the homes are being manufactured with delivery starting in March,” she said, adding any other comments had to come through corporate. A message left with a phone number believed to be Heartland’s corporate office went unreturned Wednesday.
Mendenhall, who declined to provide the name of her company, believes Heartland has ulterior motives for ditching people with RVs.
“They can rent these single-wides out to these huge oil companies and charge them up the [expletive] for them, and it’s not right,” Mendenhall said. “It boils down to money.”
While Mendenhall has made peace with the idea that her employees’ rejection is a characteristic of a dog-eat-dog world, she still feels it was wrong for Heartland to leave them out to dry.
“Everybody wants to make a buck. I get that, but it’s not OK,” she said. “Where are we supposed to go?”
Some residents are getting kicked out for other reasons.
Allen Paris, who arrived in Dickinson two months ago to work in the oil industry, said his former employers at Trucking Solutions LLC failed to include his name on the lease for his trailer home at Heartland. As a result, he woke up Wednesday morning to find a cease and desist letter attached to his front door.
“(My employers) commenced to tell me that I was kicked out,” Paris said. “So then I went to the managers of the trailer park, and they said not only does (Trucking Solutions) not own the lease, but none of us are allowed to be here.”
Paris added that, prior to his resignation early this week, he and seven other workers were squeezed in the trailer “like sardines.” He was the last one to leave Wednesday morning.
The cease and desist letter informed him that authorities would be contacted if he did not leave.
The letter, which was signed with Fugett’s name, told Paris, “you are advised to collect all of your personal belongings from the home and leave prior to 9 a.m.”
On Wednesday, Paris said he was looking forward to returning to his family in Colorado Springs, Colo. He is staying positive, and hopes others will learn from his situation.
“I don’t want to see more guys come here and get a screwy deal,” he said. “It’s been a learning experience.”
Paris said he will be returning to Dickinson in a week, and is excited to work for “Missouri Basin.”
“I’ll be taken care of,” he said.
Fugett said Heartland cares about its residents, but maintains that her hands are tied.
“We sympathize with anybody that’s in a difficult situation, whether they’re in our park or not,” she said. “There’s only certain things we’re able to do based upon this temporary permit.”
Mendenhall said her employees have less than 30 days to vacate Heartland, and she does not know if she will be asked to leave as well. Like Paris, she is keeping her chin up.
“(My employees) are hanging in there,” she said. “We’ll figure out something. We have no choice.”