Demolitions at St. Petersburg mobile home park leave residents with questions

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Former residents of a St. Petersburg mobile home park are homeless and scrambling after the park was sold and mobile homes are being demolished.

8 On Your Side arrived at the Pine Oak Mobile Home Park, located at 340 40th Avenue North, to the scene of a man digging through rubble, alleging crews knocked down his home with his belongings still inside, including his insulin.

According to residents, they were made aware of the sale last year. They received notice around Thanksgiving that they would need to be out of their homes by Jan. 12.

The notice stated in part:

“You are advised that your tenancy will not be renewed at the end of the present term. You will be expected to vacate the premises on or before January 12, 2020. In the event that you do not vacate the premises by said date, legal action may be taken in which you may be held liable for double rent, court costs and attorney’s fees.”

Many questioned the legality of the notice and chose to stay, saying that was not enough time with what little some can afford.

Michael Jones is a former resident of the park who was asked to leave last year before his home was demolished.

“There was over 30 people that lived here and were provided with a place to live and, one by one, were pushed out into the street one form or fashion,” Jones said.

He now lives in his car with his wife. He said no one, including law enforcement, arrived on scene to evict residents after the initial notice before demolition began.

“They might have been given a proper amount of time, but no legal action was actually taken towards these people whatsoever. I believe what they’re doing is a travesty and they’re doing it illegally, they’re being bullied out of their houses and their place to live and they’ve got nowhere to go,” Jones said.

The notice given to residents gave a phone number for another mobile home park where they could move to, but most said the contact given was less than helpful.

Charlene Gallagher and her son are among the residents without a place to go. They set off on foot Monday with wagons of belongings to look for a motel.

“Me and my son’s gotta go to a motel room. And try and figure out what we’re going to do after that,” Gallagher said. “We looked and we looked and we looked. I can’t afford a place. So I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Jones is helping his friend, a disabled veteran, move his belongings into a storage unit before his mobile home is demolished.

“He doesn’t even have enough money for a hotel room for two or three nights. It’s supposed to be really cold for the next couple days,” Jones explained.

8 On Your Side’s Jeff Patterson reached out to the property manager, who did not give his name and said “no comment.”

A woman who answered the phone at the company working to demolish the homes only said she knew they were contracted to do so.

“I’m reaching out to whoever might see this. Guys. Come on. We’re human beings. Help. Please,” Jones pleaded.

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