El Portal Residents Will Get Paid $360K To Move Out Of Trailer Park

May 26, 2016

The owners of an El Portal trailer park and the Village of El Portal will pay $360,000 to the families living at the park.

This settlement, reached through mediation, is a victory for the remaining residents of the Little Farm trailer park who have been battling the park’s owner, Wealthy Delight LLC, and the village for more than a year now after it was announced the park would close.

Legal Services of Greater Miami attorney Evian White and the Community Justice Project sued on behalf of tenants  at the park. The lawsuit alleged that El Portal did not follow state law when it  failed to study whether adequate housing was available before signing off on a settlement agreement with Wealthy Delight that called for the park’s closure.

An appeals court agreed.

According to the settlement agreement, the 45 families remaining at the park will receive $8,000 per household and have to move out by July 31.

The original move out date was the end of February.

Wealthy Delight has also agreed to hire a relocation specialist to work with the residents as they prepare to move out. The relocation specialist will help locate affordable housing and assist residents with paperwork, according to the settlement agreement.

Mathilde Retana was evicted from her Little Farm trailer last year while tenants were fighting for more time and money to move out.
Credit Nadege Green / WLRN

Many of the people living at Little Farm live on fixed or meager incomes.  Some are disabled or elderly.

Under Florida law, mobile home tenants are entitled to a relocation fee of  $1, 375. Wealthy Delight was offering twice the amount for residents to move out, but residents fought back.

Sophia Alexandre lives in a peach trailer with her husband and children. She and many others at the park say they paid $10,000 or more for their homes.

“We can’t be left to end up homeless,” she told WLRN.  “They have to make us whole. This is my whole life right here.”

The tenants organized with help from Haitian Women of Miami  (FAMN) and South Florida Voices for Working Families. They held protests and weekly meetings where they formed a resident council.

Throughout the process, Wealthy Delight actively evicted people who were behind on their rent. People who were evicted before the settlement was reached will not be eligible for compensation.

Some tenants who owe back rent will have the amount deducted from their settlement

As a condition of the settlement, there will be no more evictions or demolition at Little Farm through July 31, the last day for residents to move out.

White, the attorney representing the Little Farm residents, called the settlement “bittersweet.”

Trailer parks are among the last unsubsidized affordable housing options in  Miami-Dade County. 

“The settlement leaves many in a precarious situation given the area’s notoriously unaffordable housing stock," she said.