The removal of more than three dozen trailers from a mobile home park in Basalt is continuing ahead of work to restore the Roaring Fork River’s shores. The trailer homes sit in a floodplain and the local government is working on getting residents out of danger. They plan to replace the trailers with a public park. So far, a handful of trailers have been hauled away. Still, many residents remain. As Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports, they’re hoping to find inexpensive housing.
“So, we’re going to go into trailer 37. Our highest number of people in one trailer was 17 until we got to this one where there was 22," says Basalt Town Manger Mike Scanlon.
He negotiates his way around old mattresses and furniture. The residents of this dilapidated mobile home are gone now. But, at one time, it housed several individuals and families.
“So, they would have fold-out couches in here, bunk beds in here," he says.
He points to a small room covered in children’s wallpaper where two sets of bunk beds had been. The home is chilly due to a lack of insulation and holes in some of the floors.
“They would all share this bathroom. They would put up a list in terms of when you could use the bathroom and who’s responsible for cleaning up."
Renters here paid between $150 and $300 for a portion of a room. The Town is working with residents here to find new affordable housing. But, Scanlon says it’s tough.
"When you get into the relocation part, that’s what really makes it tough for us is, finding places that are partial, where it matches the income they have."
The Town is helping with the search and financially. It’s paying each resident a year’s worth of free rent at the rate they’re paying now, a $5000 moving cost, $7500 if the residents take their trailer and additional varying amounts for time spent at the trailer park and for the number of people in a household.
The Town’s moving people out of this area because it’s in danger of flooding. And, they’re making way for a public space with a park and repaired river.
Adriana Torres still lives in the trailer park with her husband and children. Her move-out date is this spring. She’s searching for a place that’s close.
"I want to try and go to the same place around the Valley (whether it's) in Basalt, El Jebel or Willits because my husband’s job is in Aspen. And, my kids are in schools and they don’t want to move, they’ve told me they don’t want to move, so I have to find a place around here," she says.
Torres has lived in the trailer park for 14 years. She’s raised three children there and her rent is $650 a month. The properties she’s checked out so far, are double and triple that amount. So, she’s scoping out government subsidized housing and looking into putting a new trailer on land close by. She says she’s counting on the Town’s help. And, she’s preparing in other ways.
"Trying to save money, spending money on just the necessary and that’s it, and praying and hoping in God because he’s my everything."
A few years ago, she says residents in the trailer park were more hopeful when the Town and the Roaring Fork Community Development Corporation were looking into possibly building replacement housing for the residents. Now, she says residents are concerned as they explore where to go next.
She’s urging her neighbors to vote “yes” on a ballot question called 2B. It would free up funds to help pay for the relocation of the residents and the restoration of the riverbank.
"A friend that I have, I told her to vote yes and I invite everybody to vote yes. Some of that money is there to help us," she says.
Passage of the ballot measure would speed up the project. But, there is a chance property taxes could rise because of it. Even though, town officials say that won’t happen.
Regardless, the removal of the trailers will continue. Torres is scheduled to move in April.