Mobile Home Community Saved by Housing Authority

Stress of possible move may have led to death of one resident.

Amid the turmoil of today's housing costs and scenes of mud-crushed abodes, there is this good news: Wonderland Estates, a 109-slab Renton mobile home community that has faced closure for 18 months, was purchased last week by the King County Housing Authority. The deal preserves affordable homes and may actually save lives. The fear of moving, according to residents, led to the death of at least one elderly resident; others were offering to give away their mobile homes to any takers. "People are running off and leaving their properties, selling for a dollar; many have nowhere else to go," Swannee Rivers of nearby New Life Church said before word of the sale broke. The community ultimately pulled itself together, raised money through pancake breakfasts, and went scouting for help. They found it, at last, at the county level—with a welcome assist from Wonderland owner Robert Eichler, who wanted $12 million for the property but agreed to take $8.5 million. "In this season of hope," says county housing director Stephen Norman, "it's great to be able to tell the residents that they won't lose their homes."

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