Evictions At A Kentucky Trailer Park Highlight Ohio Valley’s Lack Of Affordable Housing
MURRAY, Ky. (OVR) — Jimmy McRoberts knew the North Fork Mobile Home Park was teeming with animals. Some residents, like local grandmother Penny Gozzard, had two or three beloved cats they kept a close eye on; others let their pets roam around and mingle with the neighborhood kids who played around their families’ trailers. So when McRoberts’ entire trailer park was served an eviction notice on March 7, he realized a lot of pets were about to be left behind.
It was a gentle, breezy May evening in the small eastern Kentucky college town of Morehead, Kentucky, when McRoberts told his story outside one of the last trailers in North Fork. By this time, the park was mostly vacated, the high grasses covering left-behind odds and ends, toys and jackets and cigarette packs. Roughly 80 of McRoberts’ neighbors, served with the same eviction notice and a move-out date of April 30, were gone.
“Pets are like kids to some people,” McRoberts said. “We had such a short time that people just had to take the first available, if it was an apartment or a trailer for rent, or just move in with relatives. They didn’t have money to pay the pet deposit, or the new place just didn’t allow pets.”
McRoberts and other neighbors have rescued about 30 pets. Some have gone to their owners, but most went to shelters, or McRoberts’ new trailer, where he fosters two litters of kittens and their mothers. He’s looking for foster parents, too.
North Fork was already a fixture of Morehead when McRoberts first moved in 17 years ago, and many residents can’t remember a time without it. It’s convenient, centrally located, on a bus line. The park sits flat atop a hill, right at the entrance to the city of Morehead, abutting I-64 along Flemingsburg Road, Morehead’s main drag. Lot rents ran an unthinkably cheap $125 per month.
However, Lexington developer Patrick Madden also noted North Fork’s desirability as a location — for retail. He purchased it from its owner, Joanne Fraley, for development as a strip mall. The city of Morehead agreed in December 2020 to support the development through tax increment financing, which would funnel public money into the project, based on the principle that with business development, property values rise, sending tax revenue back to the city.
While tax revenue may benefit the low-income residents of North Fork in the future, as they compete with one another for the town’s limited housing stock, many feel it’s hard to see the bright…