In Fairview, most of our affordable housing can be found in our mobile home parks. The Quail Hollow, Cherry Blossom, Silent Creek, Rolling Hills, Terrand and Sandy Mobile Villa parks are home to hundreds of people, including some of our most vulnerable neighbors.
According to local census workers, the folks who live here are a diverse bunch - young and old, white and black and brown. They may be poor, or undocumented, or spent time in jail. They may be old and frail, or young and disabled. Taken together, our mobile parks are a big part of Fairview, occupying a sizable slice of the city between I-84 and Sandy.
I spent all day Sunday dropping fliers in Quail Hollow, Cherry Blossom, and Sandy Villa. I saw community and charm and pride – and poverty. The economic disparity that exists in America exists right here in Fairview, too. We may all shop at Target, but we live in very different homes in very disparate neighborhoods. Our mobile parks, for example, do not have any actual parks nearby, as they sit in what is largely an industrial tract of land.
Of all the parks, Quail Hollow is a place apart. It’s a retirement community, for those 55 and older, and has the look and feel of a neighborhood – gardens and speed bumps and a clubhouse and a community pool. Quail Hollow is chockablock with hummingbird feeders and rose bushes, lawn ornaments and Halloween decorations. One home had a bright yellow carousel horse on the front porch!
I met a man named Don in the downpour, who was standing under his covered carport getting some air. Don has lived in Quail Hollow for 22 years. Loves it. Everyone is friendly, the police come fast if you need them, and the medical folks, too. It’s pretty. It’s quiet. Don kindly warned me against dropping a flier at the park manager’s house. They worry about who comes into the park.
Sandy Mobile Villa has a pool, too. But there is no lawn there, no trees, and, as in most mobile parks, no sidewalks. There are many signs of children – sidewalk chalked with rainbow messages, bikes leaning on porches, signs announcing Reynolds High School grads proudly staked by front doors. There are also a lot of wheelchair ramps. Mobile homes can be ideal places to live if you’re disabled.
I met Tracy out smoking on her porch. Tracy’s lived out in East County for years, and at this park for about 11, where she is raising her three teenage grandkids. Their mom is an addict and can’t care for them. Tracy loves it here. She appreciates her neighbors, black and brown and white, and had a lot of ideas to share about race, antifa and the Black Lives Matter movement. Racism doesn’t exist, Tracy says, and encouraged me to listen to the YouTube videos of conservative black activist Candace Owens. If I watched, Tracy said, she’d vote for me. I hope she votes for me anyway. We had a nice conversation.
You can’t draw many conclusions from spending a few hours in a neighborhood, certainly not on a drenching day that keeps its inhabitants inside. But it’s a fact that our mobile home parks allow people of modest means to live quietly in a suburban city with nature and the big city not too far away. It’s also a fact that these parks are disappearing in Oregon. Some are lost in wildfires, but most are simply being sold for the valuable land they sit on. A remarkable story last year in The Oregonian showed that 73 Oregon mobile home parks closed in the last 20 years, a loss of 2,700 homes. I wonder how this has contributed to our current crisis of homelessness.
Don and Tracy are my neighbors; They live just two miles away. When I’m on the city council, I will not forget them. We all deserve beauty, safety and opportunity. I intend to make these possible for everyone.