Seattle's growth may push out this community of low-income seniors
A trailer park community near Haller Lake is home to about 100 people, almost all over the age of 60.
People moved here for the security of an affordable home. But now the land is for sale and the seniors are asking City Hall for protection.
Update 1/29/18 9:00 a.m.: The Seattle City Council on Monday approved a one-year moratorium on construction and development of mobile home parks.
The city says that over the next year it will work on permanent regulations to protect affordable housing.
Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who met with and advocated for the residents of Halcyon Mobile Home Park, said she wants to pursue a new zoning designation to protect manufactured homes, similar to the one passed in Portland last year.
The decision came in response to the Halcyon residents, who learned last summer that a Kirkland developer had plans for about 200 townhouses on the land.
Right now Halcyon is home to about 100 seniors in 76 trailers.
On Tuesday neighbors meet to elect a board for their new homeowner’s association. They’re considering a nonprofit housing organization to buy the park. Right now the land is listed at $22 million.
Eloise Micklesen has lived at Holcyon Mobile Home Park for 16 years. She’s well known in the park as an energetic leader, always at community events and giving her neighbors a hand.
“Taking them to the hospital, connecting them with their family that don't know they're sick," Micklesen said. "Staying with them until the family comes — sometimes beyond that. So it's been a long road, but a wonderful road.”
On Friday afternoon Micklesen and about 15 of her neighbors met to form their first homeowner’s association.
After decades of quiet in the park, they are organizing to ask the city for a moratorium on the land.
If it were sold and redeveloped, Holcyon residents would certainly not be able to afford to live there.
Micklesen said since the park was put on the market in July it’s been a burden on her neighbors, especially those with medial issues.
“There's been so much stress on all of us because it's so new to everyone.” Micklesen said. “We were totally settled and there was no threat to us at all. But this is an unnatural disaster. It's unnatural because the lives here were disrupted in a way that was scary. People didn't know what to do and they were depressed.”
Betty Spicher moved into Holcyon 14 years ago and said she was promised she would be safe in the booming housing market.
Now if the park is sold she’s worried where she’ll be able to find a home.
“To put 100 older people out, make them homeless — this is not right. It just isn't right," Spicher said. "Until you're in this situation, you don't realize what it's like.”
On Monday over 30 Halcyon neighbors are taking the bus downtown to give comment before the City Council’s ruling. If the moratorium passes the residents will have one year to find a nonprofit buyer.
Micklesen said this process has been stressful, but it’s brought a tight-knit community even closer.
“It's in some ways a tragedy, but I am very moved by the strength of the seniors that they've rallied to and come alive," Micklesen said. "I have someone on a wheelchair said, 'Well I'm gonna stand up for myself' and get on the bus."