CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WFXR)– Billie Massie bought the land, that is now Massie’s Mobile Home Park, in 1978.

A few years later, Massie began building the trailer park in 1984.

Currently, there are roughly 174 units in total.

Back in August James Shelton moved into Massie’s Mobile Home Park, with his three children, and says he was shocked by what he saw.

“On the initial move-in date I started looking around and started seeing mostly roach feces, roach carcasses, live roaches in some places, and it took me almost a month for it to get cleaned,” said Shelton.

Shelton says he also found black mold in several cabinets, and after several attempts to contact management he was fed up.

However, he is not alone.

Roy McGlothlin is another resident who says he pays his rent on time, even if he is a couple of days late– it’ll get paid.

Although, alongside McGlothin, other residents say about 3 weeks ago they started receiving a slew of pay or quit notices, on top of the maintenance issues inside of the homes. Now many residents are tired and want security in the fact that they won’t be evicted.

“It makes you feel a lot of stress, headaches. I mean it’s just all the time on your mind,” said McGlothlin.

The change of ownership

In April of 2022, Massie’s Mobile home park sold for $16.85 million.

Billie Massie, the previous owner, received $10 million for the land and $6.86 million for the buildings. According to the property record, the buyer hid behind a shell corporation called Massies MHP, LLC.

With a little digging, and following the sale of the property, it was actually taken over by Homes of America LLC, the firm that shared a New Jersey P.O. Box with the company Smith Management LLC, which is a sub-division of Alden Global Capital.

If you do more digging online, Alden Global Capital the hedge fund that gained attention in recent years after it purchased, and attempted to purchase, multiple newspapers across the country.

However, there is more.

Montgomery County property records show that Thomas Del Bosco, an executive officer of Alden Global Capital, Vice President of Smith Management LL, and the one who operates the P.O. Box in New Jersey.

This is all according to Del Bosco’s LinkedIn, which no longer exists through web searching as of the first Friday in November.

What is happening to the residents?

“I paid September and went up and paid October and I got a pay or quit notice on money that I already paid,” said McGlothlin.

McGlothlin, and other residents, received those pay or quit notices telling them they had 30 days to come up with hundreds of dollars or get evicted.

Some tell WFXR News that they paid the property manager, Rachel Muse the initial bill only to get another notice weeks later.

For example, McGlothlin shares his trailer with Anneta Wilkins, her daughter, and boyfriend, in late September received his first notice $743.49.

According to McGlothin, he paid $750 to cover the rent or October.

He then got another notice, asking him to pay $713.49 for the time period of Aug. 1 to the middle of October.

On top of that, McGlothin says he has multiple maintenance issues that need to get fixed, and when he questioned the property manager about them he says he was disrespected by her.

“Since we first met her, we asked her about maintenance issues. Her response to me was quote when you rented the place you know you didn’t rent the taj mahal. She was very confrontational, and belligerent, and told us to buy a hammer and fix it ourselves, “said McGlothlin.

Residents like Jack, who also lives in the mobile home park, are missing parts of their floor, their sink facet won’t turn on and off properly, and more.

He had to buy wood, out of his own pocket, to replace parts of the floor to make it safe for his wife and daughter to walk on.

Jack says he is also experiencing black mold in his daughter’s room, which he is trying to fix himself, and more missing floorboards in her closet.

In addition, he has two toilets that don’t work, so he once again purchased a brand new toilet and installed it himself.

Public attention tenant association

Organizer for the New River Vally Tenants Association, and aide at nearby Belview Elementary School, Sarah Rupp has been helping tenants understand what is happening to their lives.

Through meetings, and even writing a piece called “Wall Street Becomes New Slumlord in Southwest Virginia,” Rupp has been fighting the good fight.

The article goes more in-depth about Alden Global Capital, and the effects this situation is having on the children who go to school and Belview elementary and live at the mobile home park.

“And what is going to happen to all of the kids who get evicted? The thought weighs on me like or school’s collapsing roofe and the nearby weapons manufacturing pollutants stranging our air.”

Sarah Rupp excerpt, “Wall Street Becomes New Slumlord in Southwest Virginia.”

She also delves deeper into the increasing rent.

“Tenants have told me that Massie’s is the only place they could afford in the rough hosuing market of Christiansburg, where the cost of rent has exploded this past year. Rent at Massie’s is in a range of arounds $400-$800. The living situation is not good, and tenants aren’t getting the help that they need to fix their trailer- with some trailers being 30 or 40 years old.”

Sarah Rupp excerpt, “Wall Street Becomes New Slumlord in Southwest Virginia.”

 Southwest Virginia Legal Aid and the law

Legal aid attorney, Kristi Murray, who represents some of the residents says these notices had several defects which according to her made them questionable.

She adds even the form that was handed out to the residents was outdated under Virginia state law. They were from 2018 laws that are no longer in effect.

Murray says, “code sections in the September (first notices) pay or quits were eventually repealed and replaced due to an overhaul of landlord-tenant law in 2019.”

However, it goes further than that with the second notices residents received.

“What invalidated those notices was basically the amount that was written in, as being owed by the tenant, because what happened was when this ownership changed hands in august the new owner failed to update hud with their new payment address,” said Murray.

According to Murray for two months HUD continued sending payments to the prior owner of the mobile home park, Billie Massie.

She says community action contacted Massie, and he told them he will forward all fo the payments.

“So what they were doing was billing these tenants with the portion that was owed by them if they were late, but also the missing hud money that the tenant themselves never owed,” said Murray.

Now, legal Aid is working with Massie’s Roanoke attorney, Bryan Grimes Creasy, to try to resolve the situation with the residents.

Almost two weeks ago tenants say they had their water shut off because the property manager failed to pay more than 14,000 dollars to the Montgomery County Public Service Authority.

According to Murray, it was turned back on the same day.

“They had received multiple notices and received calls from Montogmery County P-S-A themselves, as recently as a week before the cut-off date,” said Murray.

Murray does credit Creasy as possibly being the reason the water got turned back on because she directly contacted him when the problem occurred.

To contact legal aid, call 1-888-201-2772 through the intake department.

Currently, the legal aid is representing 25 tenants.

Future for Massie’s Mobile Home Park

Murray and the team at Southwest Virginia legal aid have filed 13 suits for unlawful exclusion against Homes of America LL/Alden Global for the water shutdown.
That court date is set for Jan. 6th at 8:30 in the morning.

The property manager, sent a text to WFXR’s Kelsey Jean-Baptiste saying “no comment.”
She also reached out to the attorney who represents Massie’s new owners but has not heard back yet.