Regency Residents Are Not Alone In Complaints Against Churchill

8 years 5 days 3 hours ago Saturday, December 11 2010 Dec 11, 2010 Saturday, December 11, 2010 12:40:52 PM CST December 11, 2010 in News
COLUMBIA - A local problem has links to four different states. KOMU first brought you a story about the Regency Mobile Home Park in October, when its residents were rallying for help. The Churchill Group Inc. that owns Regency has a widespread history of similar problems.

The Columbia Regency Mobile Home park has been in Columbia for years.  It encompasses a total of 38 acres and is home to hundreds of trailers.

"It was a beautiful place at one time and that's what we need to get the riffraff out and start over," resident Brenda Case said.

The Regency of Columbia purchased the property from Mark Holding Company back in 1993, and residents say the last of those 17 years has been the worst.

"We're getting kicked out of our homes and no one knows from day to day if we're going to be here," Case said.

"With high electric bills or being over charged for their rent, being evicted for whatever the reason may be, for their reasons I can say," resident and former manager of the park Jessica Villarreal said.

"The trees, the potholes, and when you ask the management to do anything or you submit a request there's no recognition or anything, they just don't care," former resident James Thompson said.

Their concerns are being echoed miles away and across state lines where other people in Regency Mobile Home Parks are speaking out against the Churchill Group.
 
In a report out of Fort Wayne Indiana, WISE-TV covered residents complaining of poor living conditions, dangerous debris and corrupt business practice.    

"They're not treating people right, this place is in awful shape," resident and former Fort Wayne Regency manager Pam Renner said.

Down south, the Louisville, Kentucky Regency park got shut down in July 2009.

WAVE-3 reports that more than a year later the city is still trying to get the Churchill Group to clean up the mess. The coverage describes the destruction as what you might see after a tornado blew through.

North to Iowa there are two parks that echo the complaints, one in Sioux City and the other in Iowa City.

"It's really tough to live in a community that has gone so down trodden," said an anonymous Iowa City resident.

The complaints caught the eye of the Iowa Attorney General's office; it started an investigation.
   
"When you're looking at people not being able to keep the homes they paid for or not being able to live in decent conditions that does prompt us to take action," Assistant Attorney General Ben Bellus said in a phone interview.

Bellus leads the investigation of Regency in Iowa and said his office takes housing issues very seriously. 

"These are people who were living in pretty poor conditions, doing the best they could and at risk of losing their homes, and that kind of thing often triggers attention by our office," Bellus said.

KOMU found the Churchill Group owned parks listed in Iowa City, Sioux City, Fort Wayne, Louisville, Goddard and Hutchinson, Kansas, and Canby, Oregon.  All of these parks tie back to Carbondale, Colorado and company owner George Gradow. Gradow, married to former playmate Barbi Benton, has already been locked up because of his past business decisions.

Court documents show a U.S. district judge convicted Gradow in 2006 for "attempt to corruptly interfere with the Administration of Internal Revenue Laws." The judge sentenced Gradow to 15 months at a federal prison camp in Colorado. News reports from the state say he pleaded guilty to tax fraud and changing financial documents.

Bringing it back home, Gradow's name is listed as the president of Columbia's mobile home park, tying it to Gradow and the growing list of complaints and litigation surrounding his company.   

"When you're putting children out in the street because of money, you know I've always heard the saying, the love of money is the root of all evil, well it's very true," Case said.

At least these residents are not alone, in their battle against Churchill. 

   
   

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