Nielsen Trailer Park residents march to save their homes

Photos by Samantha Bengtson | Nielsen Trailer Park residents march down Front Street to protest developing the area for hotel and apartments. Below, residents gather at Soledad City Hall to speak about what the park has meant to them over the years.

Displacement not an option, they say

SOLEDAD — Fifty residents of the Nielsen Trailer Park marched to Soledad City Hall last week to show their support for the park and their dislike for redeveloping the area.

The June 5 march was planned by the Nielsen residents to show the community the issues they are facing.

Residents have been given a year notice to find other living situations, as the Nader Agha family, who owns the property, is in the process of developing the land to include a 120-room hotel and 24 affordable-housing apartments.

“We are aware of and sensitive to the concerns of the tenants at Nielsen’s Trailer Park,” said daughter Laith Agha. “The project is in the early stages of planning. As the plan continues to evolve, we will be considering options in how we may help residents relocate.”

The Agha family has other affordable housing units within the city in the planning phase and plans for 52 affordable-housing apartments.

Residents of the Nielsen Trailer Park have enlisted help from David Gonzalez of the Center for Community Advocacy.

“We understand the issue of housing in all of the state of California but particularly in this region, in Monterey County,” Gonzalez said. “All of South Monterey County is deeply impacted by the lack of affordable housing and the lack of inventory and that makes the rent prices go high.”

The majority of the residents have lived in the area for multiple years and consider displacement as a non-option because there is nowhere else for them to go without cramming other housing units. Several of the residents spoke out about relocating and the options they are facing.

Janet Zavala-Albor, a 16-year-old resident of the park, considers the people there to be her family and had a hard time reading the eviction notice to her mother.

“I never once thought of our home being taken away from us,” Zavala-Albor said. “For weeks after, it was something I thought of every day.”

Her parents mentioned moving to Chicago, where some of their family lives, and she was horrified by the idea. Zavala-Albor is a sophomore at Soledad High School and will be graduating in two years. She claimed it would be harder to establish residency in Illinois.

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