I was thinking this past week that I have always felt powerless in the presence of people who seem to have more power than I do. I know, this may sound silly, but when you grow up with people who have absolute control of your everyday life and not in healthy ways, it is easy to lose a sense of your own power.
In my case, Richard and I live in a senior mobile home park owned and run by the most evil people I have known for a long time, though I must admit they are not the first ones. In fact, every senior mobile home park I have lived in has been a senior’s worst nightmares. And yet, for many seniors it represents a place that may be affordable on a limited income, as well as having neighbors in your social and economic position. It may represent safety and well-being where there are people close all around you who will surely know if you are in danger or you are perhaps ill. And there is usually a “clubhouse,” where there are monthly activities – perhaps coffee and donuts on the day you pay your space rent, and potlucks at different times of the month. And with things such as we are going through now throughout the world, it can represent a kind of sanity when all else is failing us.
So how could anything like this not be a senior’s dream? But let’s take a good look at what happens with a great many parks, for sure the ones in my own town of Yucaipa, CA (in San Bernardino County within the Inland Empire of Southern California). Looking at the history of the parks here (and this is true in many places in the U.S.), one of the things we have here are people who come into the area, knowing very little if anything about the needs of seniors. It is a cheap investment by the standards of those who buy the parks. They skirt any rent control that might exist in an area, coming in intending to raise the rent “for improvements they are making or going to make.” The reality is that the City itself has very little control (and does not want the involvement with having to be saddled with making sure things are working right). They have other more important needs. The park owners are bringing money into their communities, and they don’t want to stop that development. They spend their energy creating more sophisticated and luxurious communities that bring more money into the community and they cannot be really blamed for that. All communities want to keep improving their communities; it is all about good business.
The first issue that mobile home residents have no say-so in is the hiring of park managers. There is no background check required, no real experience necessary (they are trained for a very short time).
Basically there are no requirements by the HCD (Housing and Community Development) which is part of the state government, supposedly charged with protecting the rights of mobile home residents including making sure that that those who purchase their homes and pay them off get their titles when that process is done. The reality is that this HCD has never been given proper legal authorization to make sure things go smoothly for the residents, and as a results, landlords such as the ones I have will wait until the home owners die while they still are trying to get their titles. And most seniors don’t know fully their rights or the way things work.
Most seniors are unwilling to do what they need to because of fear that the owners will take revenge on them or they are too ill or perhaps disabled to try to do anything. My home was sold to three other seniors before me, and all of them died without ever getting their titles. Of course I could not have known this when I purchased it, and the landlord did not tell me. Yet he had worked for this park for some 20+ years, so he fully was aware of the nature of the owners. But like many park managers or landlords, he does what they want him to do; it doesn’t matter if it is illegal or unethical. He wants to keep his cozy regular home in the park and get paid for doing nothing except collecting the rent each month and telling the people who are renting to clean up their own properties (which the park is supposed to do unless you own your place).
There are so many other areas of elder abuse I have seen and experienced with my own eyes in these parks, and I am one of them also now since I too have been unable to get my title for my home despite my many attempts to get it from the owners, and also having gone through every local level – the HCD, the City of Yucaipa, Legal Aid, Elder Abuse, Code Enforcement, and many others, all to no avail for some 1-1/2 years (or close to that). Two of my neighbors also have similar problems: one who has not had his for nine years, and the other one who is being expected to pay back taxes on the land to get his title when it has not been in his name at all. And that is the HCD saying he has to do that.
I became extremely depressed these last months. I want to get my significant other, Richard and myself out of this park and into a small home in Arizona with its own land. California is not a good place to live anymore. Frustration with feeling once again that I had absolutely no power was a truly a biggie for me.
Then one day when I was looking at many of the criminal justice publications I receive on the Internet, I came across a National Elder Fraud Number. Without waiting a second, I dialed the number, and for once, I began to get answers at a higher level of State and Federal places that can help. Also, the people who run this organization are mandated reporters, and this time the reports are not going under the shelves. I have been given the numbers of a lot of agencies at a much higher level from which I will be able to help. Also, the people at the National Elder Fraud are coming from another part of California to visit me and to make sure that everything is followed up.
For once, I felt empowered with my newly found knowledge. We can never have too much of that regardless of our training or our needs. And we should never give up just because someone says so. I trusted that landlord, and I gave him $4,000 up front down and paid the other $4,000 over the years $100 a month along with my monthly space rent and utilities. I never missed a payment, and I had to pay the insurance too for the home, not realizing I would not get much at all without that title. That might not be much for a lot of people, but for me, it was my last savings I had since I had to stop working because of the cancer and the PTSD.
Right now our country is in probably the worst situation we have had since WWII politically, health-wise, and education-wise. People are panicking and acting totally irrational and it is because they don’t know what to believe. They think they have no power to do anything about it. This is NEVER true. There is always a higher resource, and in this case, it might take us awhile to find it, but I think we can all empower ourselves by at least trying to find something else that can help this situation.
I know that I have read several articles by Steve Tanham, Sue Vincent, as well as Stuart France, founders of The Silent Eye Mystery School, and I have learned a lot of things I could not otherwise find on the Internet such as the very nature of viruses like that of the Corona Virus and bacteria since the beginning of time, and many really good articles related to the values we hold in this life.
I also want to acknowledge Patty Fletcher and Claire Plaisted for keeping things going for all of us bloggers and authors during this challenging time. Thank you one and all by giving us higher resources we can learn from and take back the care and maintenance of our own lives. Just as that money for my home is the last thing I own that can help me and my hubster move forward, so are your bodies, minds and souls the most critical things you have in this life. Take good care of them and treasure each and every moment with your loved ones that you can enjoy now.
I still think of my friend Sue Vincent and her amazing son, who was wounded severely enough to kill someone, but he has recovered slowly over the years, and there they were out planting flowers by their little pond, and Nick, her son, insisted on carrying some mulch for the garden for him mum. Take back your power; it is waiting for you.