By AURORA SALDIVAR/Coachella Unincorporated
OASIS, Calif. – Just days before Thanksgiving, the Alvaro family left their home at the notoriously substandard Duroville trailer park for a new mobile home at the beautifully landscaped Mountain Views Estates.
The difference between the two mobile home parks, a mere six miles apart, is astounding. Duroville is plagued with shoddy trailers, poor infrastructure, and debris-lined streets. Mountain View Estates, on the other hand, has a community center, playground and athletic fields for residents.
“I’m just grateful that the vision is becoming a reality and that families will be able to live here in this wonderful place and not have to endure any hardships as they were at Duroville,” said Heidi Marshall, assistant director for Riverside County Economic Development Agency.
The Alvaros were among the 32 families to leave Duroville, a community of farmworkers near Mecca, for Mountain View Estates on November 16. Working with developer Bobby Melkesian and Desert Empire Homes, the county anticipates 75 families will move in by the end of 2012 and all 181 families will move in by the end of May 2013.
Hard to Say Goodbye
But it’s not that easy to say goodbye to the only place the Alvaro’s three daughters have called home. On moving day, they gathered their friends and neighbors in a trailer for one final Thanksgiving celebration at Duroville.
“Thank you God for allowing us to celebrate Thanksgiving together one last time,” prayed Marisela, the eldest of the Alvaro children.
Marisela and her two younger sisters, Alicia and Sara, said they were sad to leave their friends behind but excited about their family’s new beginning. Their parents agree.
“Finally it is done, and I’m grateful,” said Alberto Alvaro, who smiled as he surveyed his pristine new home. “My kids are happy.”
Long Road of Obstacles
After years of obstacles and a decade-long legal battle, the residents were thrown for another loop two months ago when a severe storm flooded Duroville, tragically highlighting its lack of infrastructure.
“I got closer with them, I think when the flooding occurred in September 11,” said Marshall of the Duroville residents. “We spent the next two weeks working with them and trying to find them temporary shelter while we waited to hear what was going to happen with Mountain View, and then we got the good news (about securing redevelopment funds).
“It was kind of shaky for a while.”
Several families noted that the new units were elevated off the ground to minimize flooding in case of another storm.
Thanksgiving in their New Home
Monica Telles, a development specialist for Riverside County, was grateful the families were able to move in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.
“I am grateful that they have a decent, safe, and sanitary place to call home. That’s what I’m grateful for,” said Telles, who has been a liaison for the families of Duroville through the relocation process. “You know each family has their own story and each has a special set of circumstances.”
Although his daughters celebrated early with their friends, Alberto Alvaro was so busy moving that he hadn’t thought about the family’s Thanksgiving plans.
“I haven’t even thought about it, first I want to bring and set up my things here,” he said. “But I want to invite all my friends here.”