Article Courtesy of The Palm Beach
Published September 8, 2016
EL PORTAL -- At first glance, the 15-acre Little Farm trailer
park in El Portal, Florida, looks like a rundown neighborhood in need of a
face-lift. But to the residents, many of them Hispanic and Haitian immigrants,
this close-knit community was home.
Nelly Shirley, 74, won a
beautification award in 2003 for creating a lush, tropical
garden surrounding her mobile home of 22 years. Clairmise Blanc,
72, was known as the "mayor of Little Farm" for keeping a log on
the goings on at the trailer park. She reminisces about the
nearly 10 years spent living in her home with her husband before
he passed away. Carole Hatcher, 54, calls her mobile home "a
paradise." She had envisioned spending her golden years here.
They and other residents of Little Farm have moved since being
evicted when the park was purchased in 2015 by Wealthy Delight
LLC. The site is in preliminary planning for a mixed-use
development. Residents were given more than one year to move out
before the park was shut down July 31.
A group of mobile home owners received an $8,000 settlement per
household, after a lawsuit alleged that El Portal violated the
Florida Mobile Home Act, which mandates that relocation studies
must be conducted ahead of closure agreements.
In an area of South Florida known for its glitzy, luxurious
condo towers, affordable rental housing is hard to come by. Many
of the residents of Little Farm work low-wage jobs or are
retirees on fixed incomes. Residents who couldn't find housing
are living with friends or family as they wait for availability
of Section 8 housing. The trailer park will be razed.
Clairmise Blanc, 72, walks through the Little Farm
trailer park in El Portal, Fla. Blanc, 72, was known as the "mayor of
Little Farm" for keeping a log on the goings on at the 15-acre
neighborhood. Residents, many of whom had owned their mobile homes in
this close-knit community for years, were evicted in July after the park
was purchased in 2015 by Wealthy Delight LLC. The site is now in
preliminary planning for mixed use development.