Residents of a Thousand Oaks mobile home park claim the city has reneged on promises made years ago, so they are filing a lawsuit. Michelle Valles reports from Thousand Oaks for the NBC4 News at 5 on June 22, 2012.
Alfreda and Frank Sqrow have been married for 73 years. He's 98 and she's 94.
Alfreda says: "These are golden years, but they're getting kind of rusty."
They are still self-sufficient and trying to hang in there during these tough economic times. But now they and many of their neighbors are facing a serious and unexpected financial struggle.
The Sqrows own a mobile home but lease the land for it from "The Ranch" in Thousand Oaks.
When they first started out living there, it was affordable,. But not anymore.
Tent is expected to increase by 250 percent over the next seven years.
Patsy Van Dyke, an attorney with Bettzedek Legal Services says, the rent restrictions were done "improperly and illegally and we’re trying to get that overturned."
The increase at first works out to $30 a month, but Van Dyke says the money is relative.
"For you and me doesn't sound like a huge amount but if you are on fixed income and make $800 a month it's a big portion of their income,” Van Dyke said.
Mobile Home owner Bobbi Lee says simply, "That's not what I signed up for here."
What they signed up for was a deal made in the 1970s, in which the tenants had to be at least 62 and qualify for low-income housing. But the new owners of the land scrubbed that deal.
Mobile home owner Jim Wolf says: "When you make an agreement you keep an agreement, it's that simple"
Together the mobile home owners formed SAFE (Senior Alliance For Empowerment) and a got a pro bono legal team to fight for them in court.
Their first amended lawsuit with the city of Thousand Oaks was set to be filed Friday and tenants are hopeful.
Van Dyke says, "I'm hoping as we can all come to the table renegotiate this."
Attorneys representing the owners of "The Ranch" said they are not able to comment at this time.