Just off Highway 140 at the intersection of Creek Road in Clinton is Shady Hills, a mobile home park somewhat out of place with rural farms dotting the landscape.
Shady Hills is special because the small community is faced with having half of the park removed after the township deemed the owner unfit to manage. While the owner is certainly disliked by virtually everyone in the community, the actions of revoking the leases of half of the tenants affects the people living there more than the owner.
This is precisely the reason I’m interested in photographing the community.
Through not much fault of their own, the residents (many, if not most, of whom are hispanic immigrants) face a town board fed up with bad management and who are determined to get rid of at least half the park and put it under new ownership.
After convincing the news editor to let me go (I had nothing else to do today), I hopped into my car and headed to the park.
Soon after arriving I talked to various members in the community, letting them know what I’m doing, listening to what they thought of the situation and generally trying to feel out how accepting people would be to my presence. My verdict? I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation where people want a photojournalist until now. These people were thanking me, shaking my hand, telling me I better come back, asking me when the story would run in the paper…
These people realize what publicity can do and the pressure it can put on the right people.
No one I talked to was behind on their rent or wasn’t working a job. The upkeep of the park, or lack thereof, is not the fault of the families, rather the owner and park manager feel no need to do normal maintenance. For instance, a tree blown over in a storm over a month ago has yet to be removed and sits on top of 2 cars, both of which are still waiting for an insurance representative to estimate damage.
Anyways, here are a few photos I got yesterday. I plan on going back a minimum of once every few weeks and connecting with a few of the families who are facing eviction. Here’s the story about the eviction in case you’re interested in the details.