February 27, 2024
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By Mia Ryder-Marks

Casey Jewell has a pair of pork chops in the freezer. She’s cooking them because they’re her son’s favourite food.

But she can’t because there is a large hole in her kitchen ceiling. The silver roof of her mobile home is revealed by the missing layers of insulation and drywall. Jewell is afraid that particles from the hole could drift into her food.

It has been there since the beginning of this year. Jewell told her manager. She rents a unit in Hidden RV and Mobile Home Park, located on Highway 99 north of Vancouver. According to records filed with Washington Secretary of state’s office, the company which owns Hidden Village LLC is run by Michael Werner and Denise Werner from Vancouver. The Werners are involved with several mobile home and RV park management and operation companies. The Columbian’s questions were not answered by the company.

Washington’s law allows many low-income tenants to continue living in the same conditions as Jewell. RCW 59.18.080 states that landlords are responsible for keeping their units habitable. If they fail to do so, the tenants can demand repairs if rent is not paid and utilities have been cut off.

Carl Snodgrass is an attorney with the Northwest Justice Project.

Jewell has a rent debt of more than $8000 from her period between 2021 and 2022. She has a payment plan. She is paying $975 per month to rent her apartment — she pays the $925 monthly rental and adds $50 for repayment.

Jewell said that she spends the majority of her earnings on rent. The rest is barely enough to cover necessities like utilities, food, and groceries.

I’m living my life day to day. Jewell stated, “I’m always uncomfortable.” “I don’t know when I might be homeless.”

Jewell was homeless at various times throughout her life. She recalls asking money at intersections while living in California to keep her roof above the heads of her family. Jewell spent nine months living in her vehicle before moving to her present residence.

The pandemic of COVID-19 began just as she moved in to her new home. The mobile home park was managed by another company at the time. Jewell says that since Jewell has lived in the park, it’s had three property management companies.

Jewell said that when she moved in to her new home, there were no major issues.

In 2021, Jewell’s toilet ceased to flush properly. She told us she notified the company responsible for property management at that point. A hole appeared in her son’s room, directly above his twin-sized bed, later that same year.

Charley Jewell (22), her son, patched up the hole by himself. He began to spend the night in his girlfriend’s home for fear that the ceiling might collapse while he was sleeping.

Casey Jewell stated that the kitchen hole was formed in April. The Columbian noticed that the size of this hole increased from October until December. The hole was so large that it separated parts of Jewell’s kitchen cabinets from her wall as of Thursday.

Casey Jewell told reporters, “I smile at work as if nothing’s wrong.” Every time it rains I am afraid I will come home to find my roof on the ground.

Charley Jewell was shocked by a Columbian journalist when he touched insulation in the kitchen on Thursday.

Casey Jewell claims that the property management company offered to provide a tarp for her mobile home but she did not receive it. She claimed to have bought one.

Charley Jewell told us he had tried to cover up the damages with the cloth, but was unable to do so because of his fear that he might fall through the roof.

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