6 mobile homes condemned, some families displaced for safety risks

City inspectors have declared a half-dozen trailers in a North Lawrence mobile home park unfit for habitation, leaving several families scrambling to find a place to stay.

An assistant city attorney said inspectors found raw sewage being discharged onto the ground at several trailers at Riverview Trailer Park, 827 Walnut St.

“The conditions at the park pose a significant health and safety risk not only to the people who live there but also to people who are just visiting the properties,” said Chad Sublet, an assistant city attorney.

The city also found large amounts of trash, tires, metal, appliances and other items dangerously stored on the properties.

Sublet said he anticipated other trailers may be declared unfit for habitation in the future. On Friday, the city was in the process of obtaining administrative search warrants to enter several trailers to search for code violations related to health and safety issues.

Sublet did not have exact totals on how many people had been displaced by the enforcement action. He said about six of the park’s 22 mobile homes had been declared unfit for habitation, although he said a couple of the units were vacant. He estimated about four families, some with children, had been displaced.

“We have been working with them to find alternative housing,” Sublet said. “The last thing we want to do is displace families with children.”

A spokeswoman with the local chapter of the Red Cross said her organization had not been able to provide much assistance because the residents weren’t a victim of a fire, natural disaster or other such event.

Sublet said the city had been working to connect several of the residents with the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, which does offer some housing assistance.

“Everybody is doing everything they can, but it has been difficult,” Sublet said.

Several residents at the trailer park said they were worried about possibly losing their homes.

“We’re all thinking we’re going to end up in tents out at the lake or, even worse, out at the shelter,” said an eight-year resident of the mobile home park who declined to give her name.

The property is owned by California resident George L. Warren. A woman who identified herself as the manager of the park said she had only taken over management of the facility in late March, and said there were significant problems at the park.

“I took over a mess,” said the manager, who declined to give her name.

Attempts to reach Warren were unsuccessful.

Sublet said city inspectors have attempted to work with Warren on several issues at the park during the last three years. But when inspectors were at the property earlier this week they found raw sewage being discharged on the ground.

“We really had to take immediate action at that point,” Sublet said.

Several residents of the park said they expected city inspectors to be back at the property Monday morning with warrants to do interior searches of trailers whose owners did not consent to searches earlier in the week.

Some residents on Friday were arranging to have electricians and other contractors come to the units in hopes of repairing them to the point of passing a health and safety code inspection.

The manager of the park said she didn’t know what the future will hold for the park.

“The owner said he would be willing to fix what the city says needs to be fixed, as long as they are reasonable,” the manager said.

— City reporter Chad Lawhorn can be reached at 832-6362. Follow him at Twitter.com/clawhorn_ljw.