TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - Living conditions at the Shady Elms mobile home park in Twentynine Palms have been deteriorating over the past several years, but now those conditions have become deplorable following a mobile home fire last week.
That fire burned down two mobile homes and damaged gas lines and a power pole, forcing both electricity and gas to be shut off. People living there are frustrated that the mobile home park's owner isn't doing more to help.
"No heat. Everything in your refrigerator starts to thaw and your freezer, everything goes bad. No food, no way to cook it," said resident Robert Coots.
Coot's has lived at the mobile home park for 10 years, but says in the last five years the conditions at the park have declined. Now, the property is practically uninhabitable. He says the parks owner is refusing to pay to improve conditions.
"He doesn't have any money," Coots said. "He didn't have money when he bought it. The last owner didn't have enough money to do this. Neither of them should have invested in a park they couldn't fix up in the first place," He said.
CBS Local 2 talked to the Shady Elms mobile home park owner Eric Aguilar. He said he took over two months ago with the intent to improve the property, and in turn living conditions. However, he said only two families legally reside at the mobile home park and the rest are "squatters."
Aguilar said he has tried to get people to legally become tenants, but they refuse to sign any kind of lease or contract making it impossible to collect money from anyone. He added the property is in bankruptcy.
"I'm not sure how an owner can get away with treating people this way. Many of the tenants in this park refuse to pay rent because they're not getting adequate housing," Coots said.
Twentynine Palms Code Enforcement Officer Julia Willis said according to the Department of Housing and Community Development, the current owner had his licence to operate the property suspended last year. That makes him unable to legally collect rent.
In the meantime, Coots said the conditions are inhumane and he does plan to sue.
As for restoring gas and electric, Southern California Edison said they're figuring out how to restore power. Safety is their number one concern and they're working with the property owner and other city agencies to get power back on.
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