ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Dozens of families were forced to vacate their homes Tuesday after the owner of the Lake Downey Mobile Home Park filed for eviction against all residents.
Residents told Eyewitness News they knew about the possibility of an eviction but didn’t know how it would play out not having contact with the owners.
Orange County officials said the Jain family, who owned and operated the mobile home park, collected rent from families and never bothered to upkeep the property.
Code enforcement has cited Jain for issues ranging from no fire hydrants on the property to no running water. The county said the owners knew there were no fire hydrants to assist the residents should a fire occur.
The owner accrued an additional $1,000 per day for noncompliance. As of Nov. 7, the liens on the property total nearly $2.8 million.
People were forced to pack their bags and leave the property Tuesday with the help of Orange County deputies.
“They’re like, ‘Come on baby, Papi, you got to go with mommy. You got to get out of here.’ That was hurting me. I’m being strong for them. And then she’s like, ‘Mommy, why are they doing this?’ We’re both rushing, taking things. I’m like, ‘I don’t know, I don’t know, just keep taking things so we can take things out,’” said Lynette Colon, a former resident of Lake Downey Mobile Home Park.
Eyewitness News did call the owners, who also own a medical facility in Apopka. They declined to talk.
“In the rush of leaving a hotel room to have more space and be comfortable, we rented here, and now we’re back into this. Just a few minutes before they went in there, she’s like, ‘I don’t want to go back to a hotel room,’” Colon said.
Samaritan Resource Center was on the property for most of the day for emotional and supportive help to families as they try to find a new place to live.
Back in May, county leaders asked the incoming developer to form a plan to move tenants and campers before they clear the site. They also said county staff would bear some responsibility.
Residents like Colon said with affordable housing nearly impossible in Orlando, they’re hoping to come across a safe and comfortable roof over their families’ heads.
“Everybody’s calling me, ‘Are you okay? Did you get out?’ It’s like I want to tell everybody I’m OK, but I’m not really OK. I got to find a place for my kids,” Colon said.
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