Euclid Beach Mobile Home park residents shouldn’t expect a windfall from the $6.2 million grant the Western Reserve Land Conservancy is receiving to help in relocating residents once the park closes next year.
“The $6.2 million number is very nuanced,” said Matt Zone, WRLC’s senior vice president and director of its Thriving Communities initiative. “You can’t take $6.2 million and divide it by 124. A more accurate way of depicting that number will be that it will take $6.2 million to close down the mobile home park.”
WRLC said that it will help residents in the 124 occupied units relocate because the nonprofit is closing the mobile home park in August 2024. The mobile park, officially known as the Euclid Beach Mobile Home Community, is on Lake Erie in North Collinwood.
The cost of relocating the residents includes everything from appraising every mobile home in the park to offering relocation assistance packages for residents. In order to convert the land to green space, probably 100 homes will have to be demolished. Most of the mobile homes can’t be moved because of age or condition, according to WRLC. It is more than a matter of just tearing down homes, Zone said. The nonprofit recently spent $60,000 to abate asbestos in 14 mobile homes that had to be demolished.
The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation announced Tuesday that it is giving $10 million to the nonprofit WRLC in connection with the major redevelopment of the Cleveland Metroparks’ Euclid Beach Park, which is next to the mobile home park. Once WRLC closes the 28.5-acre mobile park and converts the mobile home park site to green space, the nonprofit will give the land to the Metroparks to include in the project to upgrade and expand Euclid Beach Park.
Most of the remaining $3.8 million of the grant will go toward recovering the $5.8 million WRLC paid for the mobile home park in December 2021. The nonprofit will also use the remaining money to pay for deferred maintenance and capital expenditures that WRLC has had to make to keep the mobile park functional.
Even though there won’t be a windfall for residents, Zone said WRLC intends to treat residents fairly in helping them transition to new homes. This includes offering residents hardship compensation for being uprooted in addition to covering moving costs and other financial outlays associated with relocating. Zone wouldn’t give a range for how much hardship compensation residents could expect.
The nonprofit’s relocation assistance packages will include offering residents fair-market value for their mobile homes. About 75% of the mobile homes were built before the mid-1970s.
“So far, appraisals for some mobile homes have ranged from $3,000 to several thousand,” said Jared Saylor, WRLC’s director of communications.
WRLC will also pay to relocate the roughly 20 mobile homes that can be moved. The nonprofit will also move residents’ belongings.
“The money will be used to generously and compassionately support the residents as they transition off the site,” Zone said of the grant.
Residents Signal Cleveland interviewed Tuesday said it was too early to have an opinion about how the grant will individually impact them.
“I have to first know what my assistance package is going to be,” said Carol McClain, who has lived at the mobile home park for seven years.
The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, which represents the United Residents of Euclid Beach, said that the grant “provides opportunities for further discussion and negotiation.”
“Our client is open to exploring all options and [is] focused on just solutions. These solutions, including determining how the Mandel Foundation money is spent, must be reached through a genuinely collaborative process with park residents: A process that accounts for all the residents’ interests,” reads part of a statement Legal Aid emailed to Signal Cleveland.
The statement said that Legal Aid would focus on negotiating “just solutions” for the residents.
“[A]ll involved need to focus on preserving affordable housing, not just for Euclid Beach residents, but for all residents of this area who face the ripple effect of gentrification based on current plans for redevelopment,” the statement says.
Zone said closing the mobile home park isn’t about gentrification but about increasing public access to Lake Erie.
“People have a right to enjoy the water’s edge,” he said. “In Cleveland less than 10% of the lakefront is publicly accessible. You have all these private gated communities.”
Zone said the redevelopment of Euclid Beach Park will return part of “the lakefront to the people.”
WRLC has contracted with the nonprofit Branches Real Estate to assist residents with moving. Zone said residents should receive letters from WRLC outlining the next steps they should take to qualify for relocation assistance packages. Beginning in late July, he said, Branches will start the process of preparing packages for each household.
Anthony Beard, who has lived at the mobile park since 2007, said he was unswayed by the news of the grant.
“My position hasn’t changed from what it was in the very beginning,” he said. “Many of us are asking to stay here, just on a smaller footprint. I don’t have to stay in my exact location, I just want to remain on the lake.”
Zone said the park is closing and most residents have accepted that. In the last month or so about 15 families have left. He said this occurred even though residents were told that relocation assistance packages would be forthcoming.
“My team had been telling people, ‘We’re going to offer you something sometime in July,’” Zone said. “People were like, ’We don’t even want to wait, we’re ready to go now.’”
The story has been updated to include the comments of the the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. The story has also been updated to include the recent appraisal values of some mobile homes at the park.