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Deal To Give Seniors At San Jose Mobile Home Park Condos In New Development

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- Residents of the Winchester Ranch Mobile Home Park are celebrating the first of its kind deal that will allow them to stay in their neighborhood and upgrade to new luxury condos when they get built.

But some say the best part is that their rents won't go up.

"What we're paying today is what we will be paying when we move into the condos," said MariJo Pokriots, who has lived in the mobile home community for 40 years. "I'm an original owner."

The park is located across the street from Santana Row and down the block from the Winchester Mystery House. It sits in one of the priciest areas of San Jose.

But when the park was sold to developer Pulte Homes, Pokriots and about a hundred other residents faced eviction and worse.

"I didn't sleep at night," Pokriots said with a chuckle.

But it was no laughing matter according to the president of resident's association.

"People would be homeless," said Dave Johnsen, who has lived at the park for 8 years.

Most of the residents are on fixed incomes and can't afford San Jose rents, but wouldn't want to move away from family, doctors and their community.

So they banded together and worked three years with attorneys to get the first of its kind deal anywhere in the Bay Area.

"The significance of this agreement is that the residents of Winchester Ranch Mobile Home Park will get to stay, even though the park is being redeveloped," said Nadia Aziz of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley.

The agreement puts in writing that when they condos are built, current park tenants will each get to rent one until they move out or die.

Rents will be covered by a mobile home ordinance that keeps future increases to 3 percent.

"We did a lot of work to make sure it was iron clad," said Johnsen.

Macey Kessler, a spokesperson for Pulte, confirmed the deal, saying in a statement, "By working in a collaborative process with residents, we create a win-win that allows us to bring much needed new housing to the city while ensuring current residents can remain in their neighborhood."

The deal could be a model for the rest of the Bay Area where land values beneath mobile home parks is tempting owners to redevelop.

"It was really inspiring to see how the residents organized themselves, mobilized themselves and really fought to stay in the community that they live in," Ms. Aziz said.

The condos will be two bedroom units with 1,200 square feet.

Residents will be temporarily displaced to other mobile homes inside the park until the condos are built which will take about two years.

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