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Siler City families facing eviction reach deal with chicken processing company

Lucia Salmeron and her family of four will receive $8,300 from Mountaire Farms to help with eviction. Mountaire purchased the land where Johnson’s Mobile Home Park sits and will pay that amount to each unit. (Photo by Melissa Boughton)

Mountaire Farms, a chicken processing company, will pay Siler City mobile home residents $8,300 to help with their eviction after purchasing the land their homes sit on.

There are 28 trailers in Johnson’s Mobile Home Park housing 60 adults and 50 children, most of whom would be facing homelessness without the financial assistance from Mountaire.

Mountaire, the nation’s seventh largest chicken producer, has been in negotiations with Johnson’s residents since January. They will pay $8,300 per trailer in several installments, according to a news release from the Hispanic Liaison, a Chatham County nonprofit helping the residents.

Johnson’s residents will have until July 31 to move out and they have not had to pay lot rent ($210 per month) since November. They will continue to be able to live lot rent free, which amounts to another $1,890 in savings for the families.

“From the beginning, the residents have been united and determined to advocate for fair and just compensation for their families,” said Ilana Dubester, Executive Director of the Hispanic Liaison. “They faced this crisis together with dignity and courage. The residents made all decisions collectively regarding the terms of the negotiations.”

She also applauded Mountaire Farms for listening to the families’ concerns and for “doing the right thing” by increasing compensation from the original $5,000 they were offering.

“The residents are happy with the agreement and relieved that this aspect of their situation is now resolved,” Dubester said.

Most of the Johnson’s residents own their mobile homes and have invested an average of $10,000 in purchase and repairs.

Once negotiations with Mountaire reached an impasse, Johnson’s residents pleaded with Siler City and Chatham County elected officials for help.

Siler City commissioners pledged to modify and enforce stricter rental housing codes, address housing discrimination and look for opportunities for low-income housing development. Chatham County commissioners were supportive of the families and pledged to work on affordable workforce housing.

“It takes courage for immigrant families to stand up and fight for their rights,” said Emilio Vicente, Hispanic Liaison’s adult leadership program manager. “This was the first time that these residents had spoken with the press or their elected officials.”

Jorge L., whose last name was not released, is a Johnson’s resident and father of four. He said he was very grateful to the Hispanic Liaison for helping the residents come together as a community.

“By standing united, we were able to face a powerful corporation and reach an agreement for fair compensation for our families,” he said.

The organization will continue to work with families to help them secure housing and move out by July 31.

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