A friend of mine who lived in the Manhattan Mobile Home Park in North Bergen passed away in 2002 of a heart attack, and I believe the stress of worrying that the light rail system might force him to move was a contributing factor. Although his worry proved to be unfounded, about 100 families now find themselves in an even worse situation. People on the west side of Tonnelle Ave. were compensated by NJ Transit for the loss of their mobile homes but these individuals may instead be charged thousands of dollars for the demolition of trailers too old to be moved.
Is it compassionate or moral to force people out of homes they've struggled to purchase and have owned for years? No, but a quick Internet search will show trailer parks closing all over the country. Mobile homes belong to the occupants but the park's owner supplies the land, and if he decides to sell, renters may put up a fight but it's unlikely they will win.
The North Bergen Reporter's article on Nov. 18th highlighted several residents of the park; decent, hardworking, low-income people who have put heart and soul into their trailers. If you've ever visited the area, you've seen mobile homes with porches, hanging plants and gardens. It's unlikely that Section Eight Housing (if it is offered) will be able to accommodate everyone; so where will they go? Will some wind up homeless? Will the stress over the next 18 months be too much for someone's mental or physical health? If you had a limited income or disability and were forced out of your home what would happen to you?
I'd like to start a fund for North Bergen's mini-community to guarantee seed money for residents to begin their new lives. I'm sure many of you gave generously to anonymous Katrina victims or the homeless in the last few years. These people are our neighbors. Don't they deserve equal kindness?
The latest population statistic for North Bergen estimates we have at least 58,000 residents. A few dollars from each of us would give our neighbors a fighting chance when they have to start over again in 18 months. We can't do anything to mend hearts that are broken when homes are lost, but we can show how big our own hearts are and perhaps prevent the tragedies of mental and physical problems before they occur.
I'd like to set a minimum goal of $58,000, one dollar to represent each resident of North Bergen, and I will begin the fund with a personal donation of $100. If you'd like to help with this effort or wish to donate, please contact me at 201-854-6284. Thank you.