A town hall meeting is being held tonight to gather community support for senior citizens, disabled veterans, and other residents of local mobile home and trailer communities.
The meeting will be held at Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church across the street from Jacksonville Middle School from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and will address a large lot rent increase announced by the new proprietor of the Prairie Knolls and Rolling Acres communities.
Ron Hoffstadt and his wife are 17 year residents of the Prairie Knolls community on Blacks Lane. Hoffstadt says residents are trying to work with the new proprietors to settle on a new lot rent increase because, according to Hoffstadt, the proposed raises are not affordable.
“The lot rents at Prairie Knolls will go up anywhere from 41 to 58.38 percent, depending on the lot sizes. In Rolling Acres, some of the lot rents have gone up 87 percent. Most of the occupants of both places are senior citizens on fixed incomes. A lot are disabled veterans and disabled elderly people who have big medical bills and cannot afford this increase. What we’re proposing is a 10 percent increase for a 2 year lease and then add another 10 percent every 2 years. We’re hoping that they’ll negotiate, but if they don’t and people cannot afford the increases, then they will start evicting.”
Hoffstadt says the new proprietors are not showing any sign of accepting negotiations.
“We have been threatened by this company, Time Out Communities out of Fort Lauderdale, FL. If anybody makes any waves or problems, they will come down hard on us if we oppose anything they propose.”
Hoffstadt mentions that a familiar local face for veterans will also be a speaker at the meeting, having been a resident of the Rolling Acres community for a number of years.
“Seniors cannot do anything about this because they have no other income or way of satisfying this outfit. No one from this organization has come to speak with anyone here personally. We’ve only received two letters, one informing residents of the increases and the other one threatening anyone who plans to take action. The person speaking at the meeting and representing Rolling Acres is Danny Davison, the commander of the American Legion post here in Jacksonville. He is also a disabled veteran.”
This story has been developing for a couple of months now. Last month, the Time Out Communities Facebook page was being hit with one-star reviews by many people from Jacksonville who are frustrated by, and worried about, the increases. Time Out has since removed the option for people to leave reviews on their Facebook page. Time Out Communities has purchased the Prairie Knolls and Rolling Acres communities, as well as Cedarbrook Estates off Brooklyn Avenue in Jacksonville and Maple Creek in Woodson.