Fundraiser will help move trailer park residents

Published 9:35 pm Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tomika Rayford doesn’t live in Selma anymore, but when she saw a photo of the living conditions at a west Selma mobile home park without running water, she felt like she had to do something.

Rayford and others have launched a Go Fund Me account to help raise money to pay for moving expenses for residents from Cahaba Park West on Alabama Highway 22.

“I saw a picture on social media, and to be honest with you, it looked like it was something from another country,” Rayford said. “Someone on the post said this is happening in Selma, and it just struck me as horrible to learn that that was right there in Selma, and there were entire families living without water.”

The water at the mobile home park was shut off in late August due to the owners, IC Sunshine LLC and Wai Ning Fong, not paying the bill. The Selma Water and Sewer Board never released the amount owed at the time but described the bill as “an extremely large amount.”

Rayford, who now lives in Memphis, grew up in Selma and graduated from Selma High School in 1990. After seeing the photo and reading a Times-Journal report about the living situations there, Rayford said she just couldn’t stand idly by.

“I really do feel compelled to do something in a place that I know, that I can actually touch,” Rayford said. “We just want to fix it to the satisfaction of the people that have been suffering through it now for months.”

The residents have not had running water in their homes since Aug. 21, but due to a temporary restraining order filed by Alabama Legal Services, a water line was installed near the side of the road on the right of way for residents to use.

“I think it’s horrible for anywhere in the United States in this day and age that any family has to live with the reality of not having running water,” Rayford said. “Disasters happen sometimes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc., but this wasn’t the result of any of that.”

Rayford said she spends time each day looking for people to sponsor families or to donate money to the cause. The Go Fund Me has a goal to raise $50,000. So far, $2,260 has been raised. She said the money will be used to help move mobile homes or even put a deposit down on an apartment.

“We’re hoping to get the families moved to a location of their choice,” Rayford said. “We want to move them wherever in the city they want to go. We don’t want to tell them where they have to go.”

She said moving a mobile home can cost anywhere from $3,500 to $10,000 depending on the size. Rayford said she is hoping to raise enough to move each family from Cahaba Park West that is still living there.

“It’s the thing I focus on the most every day. It’s something that I would say I’ve made the primary focus of my daily activity,” she said. “At the end of the day, I can’t stand to see anyone in that situation.”

Elizabeth Hollie, an attorney with Legal Services Alabama, said when the water was cut off there were 44 residents in the park. She said one resident, who was on hospice, passed away and a few others have decided to move out. Hollie said a temporary restraining order is still in place and they are seeking other legal actions.

The Go Fund Me can be found online at www.gofundme.com/selma-community-crisis.