More than one hundred people being evicted from a Siler City mobile home park after Mountaire Farms purchased the property last year have reached a compensation agreement with the poultry company.
The residents of Johnson’s Mobile Home Park have known since November that they would have to move, but have joined together to push back their eviction and seek compensation from Mountaire Farms, which is building a processing plant next door. Today, the company agreed to give each household $8,300 if they move out by July 31. The company is also not collecting lot rent for November through July, which adds up to $1,890 in savings for each family.
Initially, Mountaire hadn’t offered any compensation and had told residents they needed to leave by May 7. They were able to secure the deal with the help of El Vinculo Hispano, a Siler City-based nonprofit that works to empower Hispanics. Prior to today, negotiations had stalled, with Mountaire offering $5,000 per household.
“We applaud Mountaire Farms for listening to the families’ concerns, and, most of all, for doing the right thing for these families by increasing the compensation from $5,000 to $8,300,” said Ilana Dubester, executive director of El Vinculo Hispano. “The residents are happy with the agreement and relieved that this aspect of their situation is now resolved.”
Including the forgiven lot rent, the company is spending $285,320 — about .01 percent of Mountaire’s 2015 revenue, according to Forbes.
Per family, that’s about as much as the average Johnson’s resident has invested in their home — $10,000 per household by El Vinculo’s measure. But, because many of the homes were built in the 1970s and 1980s and are too old to move, some residents say they’ll have to be abandon their houses. As such, they initially asked Mountaire for $46,000 per household, citing the loss of property and the money and time it takes to secure new housing.
Last week, residents appeared before the Chatham County Board of Commissioners to ask them for help. After hearing about the difficulty the residents are having finding affordable, suitable housing in the area, the board pledged to assist the families, but exactly how they’ll do that is still in the works.
Mountaire Farms received more than $2 million in local tax incentives from Chatham County and Siler City to rebuild what had been until 2011 the Townsend poultry processing facility, the town’s largest employer.
Commissioners last week said they were unaware when they approved incentives in 2016 that the company (or rather 1206 East Eleventh Street, LLC, which is registered to the address of a Mountaire corporate office in Arkansas) would buy Johnson’s Mobile Home Park one year later and evict its residents.
In a press release, Mountaire Farms said that the new poultry plant “will have a significant positive economic impact for the city, county, and state.” Community relations manager Mark Reif said the company is still in the process of surveying the Johnson’s property and deciding how it will be used.
“This offer has been accepted by the Hispanic Liaison on behalf of all the residents in the Johnson
Mobile Home Park,” a statement from the company reads. “The Company will continue to work diligently with all affected residents, and their representative to ensure the monies are distributed in an efficient way to all parties. The Company is pleased a final resolution has been accepted by the Hispanic Liaison on behalf of the Johnson Trailer Park residents.”