Posted on Thu, Dec. 11, 2003

Official says she will help farmworkers find housing

Herald Staff Writer


MANATEEAfter listening to their emotional pleas, Manatee County Commissioner Pat Glass

said she will try to find housing for some farmworkers who say they are being asked to leave

Trail Motel and Mobile Home Park and have nowhere to go.


"We might have to temporarily subsidize them," Glass said during Wednesday's fifth

affordable housing forum, which was held at Manatee Technical Institute.


"This is a real mess," Glass added.

Housing officials passed out hundreds of fliers inviting farmworkers to express their opinions

about housing in the county. What they got was two hours of complaints, all about the park

at 3503 14th St. W. About 30 farmworkers attended.


One by one, speakers came up to a microphone in the cafeteria of MTI. Their words,

translated from Spanish, told a story of prospective park owners asking them to leave before

Christmas so they could finish renovating the park in January.


Home Ownership Made Easy LLC, based at 1360 Whitfield Ave. in Sarasota, hopes to buy

the park in January, remove trailers and upgrade the park.


Owned and operated by a trust controlled by James Maglione of Sarasota, the park has been hit

in the past with unsafe structure citations, code violations and complaints of criminal activity.

The county filed a lawsuit last year declaring it a public nuisance.


Residents complained that trash isn't being picked up, drugs are being sold on the property, t

railers being demolished haphazardly are sending fiberglass debris into the air.

They also said they are being overly pressured to leave.


"The new owners are kicking us out," said Neomicio Nuņez, a park resident. "We are looking for places

to rent and can't find any. We have no place to go."


Nuņez pays $365 a month lot rent and said he can't find anything comparable in the county.

The trailer he has can't be moved, and the park is offering him $500 for it, he said.


Monica Perez, mother of two children, held a baby as she spoke to Glass.

"On Monday I came home from picking tomatoes, and there was no water," Perez said, her words translated.

"I contacted the office, and they said the county turned it off."


Of the park's 90 or so residents, roughly 30 are students, said Candi Fleet, program specialist

for migrant services for the school district.


"It was a crisis," Fleet said. "I got a call from some of my parents saying the water

had been turned off. The owner said he did it to make repairs. I sai