By Eliana Perez | Source |
Oasis Mobile Home Park has been cited by the Environmental Protection Agency for having dangerous levels of arsenic.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed off on a $30 million request from Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, to relocate residents of the troubled Oasis Mobile Home Park in Thermal.
The park, located on Torres Martinez tribal land, is home to more than 1,000 people and has been repeatedly cited by the EPA for arsenic in its water. Residents also have complained about overflowing trash and lack of maintenance on the aging mobile homes.
The Riverside County Housing Authority has helped relocate several Oasis families, but many mobile home park residents are still struggling with limited access to safe drinking water and sanitary conditions. Newsom’s signature on Senate Bill 129 acts as the final approval for amendments in the California budget framework to include the funds for relocation.
“When we talk about the $30 million, we know that the Riverside County Housing Authority is working with a couple of affordable housing nonprofits and existing and permitted mobile home parks to take a look at which projects may be ready to go for purposes of relocating of families,” Garcia said in an interview.
He added that the funding also makes building new housing feasible, thoughthat would require “anywhere from six to 12 months in terms of developmental processing.”
Garcia said that a lack of money for infrastructure — such as water and sewer — has made construction in the general vicinity challenging. Therefore, he also advocated for — and won — $7 million to support a Coachella Valley Water District water infrastructure project along Avenue 66 in Mecca.
According to Garcia’s office, the total project cost is approximately $28.8 million and CVWD is in the process of completing the first phase of this project at a total cost of $3.9 million.
“We know (the funds) will open up development for affordable housing in that area. When you put those pots together, not only do we see these families of Oasis Mobile Home Park benefiting, but we also see great opportunities for other families, benefiting from these efforts,” he said.
The approval of funds comes on the heels of a response letter from the Bureau of Indian Affairs last month to an investigation request from U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, who questioned the bureau’s handling of persistent problems at Oasis.
The BIA acknowledged that the mobile home park did not have a business lease, which was supposed to be registered with the agency. BIA said it “sent correspondence” to the owners of Oasis on separate occasions last year, “requesting meetings to provide technical assistance” to draft a lease. But it failed to explain why the agency had not sought out the lease sooner, or why it has taken no action to improve living conditions for Oasis residents since an initial site visit 13 years ago.
Ruiz said the letter “raises serious concerns about the ability of local BIA officials to enforce the law and protect the health and safety of my constituents.”