Helena mobile park residents struggling with rent increase

Dakota Valley Mobile Park
Posted at 5:30 PM, Feb 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-23 12:07:21-05

HELENA — It is no secret that Montanans are facing a housing crisis. With high rent and limited availability, finding a place to live can feel impossible. Residents of one mobile park in Helena say things keep getting worse.

Pam Kifer has lived at the Dakota Valley Mobile Home Park for three years.

She said, "I don't want to go to the homeless shelter. I've been there before."

When she moved in, the lot rent cost $395. On March 1st, it will increase to $675 a month.

"The first time he raised it, I had to change my life. I was doing senior companions, and I had to quit that job because it didn't pay enough to accommodate his raise," Kifer said.

16 comparable Helena lot rental properties have an average cost of $466.

Average lot pricings

Some come with amenities like pools, weight rooms, parks, and utilities.

Dakota Valley only offers water and sewage.

Another resident of Dakota Valley, Joey Murphy, said, "They didn't empty the sewer, and that was the reason of them raising the rent last time, was saying sewer maintenance. They weren't doing any sewer maintenance, and it ended up backing up into my pipes, freezing, and breaking."

Moving is not an option for some residents.

Kifer said, "I did check into that, and because my trailer is older, they won't accept it."

Relocating a mobile home could cost anywhere from 8,000 to 12,000 dollars.

Most tenants live off social security or can only maintain a part-time job, so their options are limited.

"I have let my AAA membership expire because I can't afford it," said Mary Mills, who lives across the street from Kifer at Dakota Valley.

"Has anybody ever heard of food stamps? Because that's where I'm going to be heading," Kifer said.

A letter from Dakota Valley says that they reevaluate their rent pricing once a year by looking at "utilities, insurance, property taxes, operating expenses, marketing trends, economic growth, and other factors."

Dakota Valley Mobile Park Continued

Tenants believe the rise in rent is for other reasons.

Kifer said, "This landlord finds out we get a raise on social security, $40 raise, and then he ups the rent $80."

"I think they might be trying to drive us out so that they can sell the property, but I could be wrong there," said Murphy.

MTN reached out to the property manager from Dakota Valley. However, they did not respond in time for publishing this story.

It has been suggested that residents contact the local government to express their concerns regarding the increase in rent costs.