Marquis Lee had a restless Thursday night.
“I was tossing and turning,” Lee said. When he was sleeping, Lee dreamt of protesting in front of the place he’s called home for the past eight years — or maybe someplace more public — as he fights to keep his mobile home.
Lee and 21 other families in the Mulberry Park subdivision off U.S. Highway 25 in Hodges were notified late Thursday afternoon by Greenwood-based Uptown Property Rentals that they had until Sept. 15 to leave.
“Effective immediately, you are hereby being given in writing a 30-day notice to vacate the property. By Sept. 15, 2019, all residents and owners of mobile homes must be gone from the property,” according to a typed letter by the company’s management.
“If you own your mobile home you will have 30 days to remove your home from Mulberry Park. We realize this will take some time to go through the moving process that is why we are allowing the extra time until Sept. 15, 2019.”
Elora and Vic Turner had the note posted to the door of their 106 Phil Lane home at 4:39 p.m. Thursday. They know the exact time because a timestamped image was picked up by their home surveillance camera.
The couple purchased the trailer in 2015, relocating from Ninety Six, and had it paid off within a year.
“They didn’t want to give us time to call them,” Vic said.
“I don’t know where we’re going to go,” his wife said.
According to an employee at Southland Homes in Greenwood, the average relocation cost of a mobile home is between $1,500 and $2,000, with additional costs for reconnecting water and sewer lines.
The Turners’ home is cozy, with a home entertainment system and shelves of video games and Blu Ray movies. Beast, their black cat, darted in and out as neighborhood children came by to play. Two other cats, Hiccup and Frank, nosed around a small garden the Turners created, a pumpkin ripening in the sun.
With a landscaped playground and swimming pool in their backyard, the Turners are committed to Mulberry Park. Over the next year, Vic said, they hoped to achieve a first-time homebuyers’ loan so they could buy a house.
“We weren’t planning to go anywhere,” Elora said.
The mobile home was to come with them so Elora’s brother, Ryan Myers, could live in it. He’s currently sleeping on their couch and is one of several disabled veterans in the complex.
“This is home,” Vic said.
An Uptown Property Rentals employee told the Index-Journal on Friday the letters were delivered at the request of Elaine Barnette, who owns the Mulberry Park property.
“We manage the property for the owner, and at her request, gave the notice for the park to be vacated,” the employee said.
Repeated attempts to reach Barnette by phone were unsuccessful. An automated message said her voicemail was full and “there was not enough space to leave a message.”
Marc Sievers and his wife have lived in Mulberry Park for nearly 20 years, and are in the midst of a complete remodel.
They were blindsided when the letter arrived on their door.
“Highly PO’ed,” Sievers said. “My wife was in tears.”
Like the Turners, Sievers said the timeframe offered by Uptown Property was unrealistic.
“Thirty days is nowhere near enough time to find a piece of property, put a house on it and come up with the money to get ours moved. There’s no possible way,” he said.
With Greenwood District 50 classes set to resume on Aug. 19, Elora Turner said her two children have grown up with Hodges Elementary, and she worries about moving them elsewhere.
“We know all the teachers, and school is about to start. We move now, and we’re going to be uprooting literally in the middle of a school year,” she said. “Everybody they know, and everything. That’s their school.”
Lee’s three daughters also attend Hodges Elementary — and when they’re not in school, many of them are playing together in the neighborhood.
“We have huge cookouts. Everybody swims in our pool,” Elora said. “Everybody down here knows each other, we try to help out.”
Vic said he and others hope the property owners relent, either giving tenants a longer extension or compensating them for being forced out.
There’s a third option, he added, that he hopes will not be needed.
“Before my family ends up homeless, they’re going to have to kill me,” he said.