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Alden Global Capital is expanding their usual business of gutting newsrooms to buying up mobile home parks

Friday, Dec 2, 2022 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Known for buying the Tribune and slashing news rooms, Alden Global has turned to acquiring mobile home parks. Julie Reynolds Martínez

While mostly focused on gutting your local news outlet, during the pandemic [Randall Smith, co-founder of the hedge fund Alden Global Capital] moved into one more investment area that’s having a devastating effect on working people’s lives: mobile home parks.

While Smith enjoys flitting between mansions in places like West Palm Beach and the Hamptons, his low-income tenants face rent hikes and evictions.

Smith Management, under names like Big Oaks MHP LLC, has acquired some 20 mobile home parks in North Carolina, where it immediately raised rents and threatened evictions. […]

Tenants at Big Oaks Mobile Home Park in North Carolina were immediately hit with 90-day rent increase notices during the height of the pandemic.

Smith’s company offered to buy tenants’ homes if they couldn’t afford the 60% increase. Worse, owners are prohibited from selling their homes to any other buyer, allowing Smith to set the price.

* NPR interview with Julie Reynolds Martínez

SIMON: And Alden uses other companies to buy up these properties, according to your reporting.

REYNOLDS: Yeah, I have discovered scores of these around the country. I’m still counting. And they were bought up last year by a company called Homes Of America LLC. It’s an Alden affiliate. In all of these communities, I saw the same pattern. There were stories in local media. They were raising the rents 40 to 60%, putting up eviction notices. They were even evicting people in quite a few cases where the rent had already been paid. And I’ve seen the bills. I’ve seen the proof of payment. And these park managers are also refusing to do repairs. And a couple of weeks ago, the water was shut off at Massie’s Mobile Home Park in Virginia because they didn’t pay the bill.

SIMON: Does Alden want to be in the mobile home park business, or do they have another plan, best as you can tell?

REYNOLDS: It’s a little hard to tell. They bought most of these parks in 2021 using these LLCs that belong to other LLCs. They’re all under Homes Of America, and its financing arm in turn is actually owned by an entity called Tribune 2 Finance 1 LLC. And this led me to wonder if they’re actually using the Tribune newspaper money to pay for all of this. This follows Alden’s pattern of buying distressed businesses.

SIMON: Their interest is real estate, not the actual business.

REYNOLDS: Well, it’s also ringing out the cash until the business itself gets to the failure point, and then they can also profit from the real estate. I worked for an Alden paper for 10 years, the Monterey County Herald, and it was a similar situation. The hot water went off, they never fixed it - things like that. So this is a pattern for them.

SIMON: And can you tell how many properties, mobile home parks, they’ve purchased?

REYNOLDS: My count is up in the 80s, but I’m still counting. So I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s more than 100.

* Cardinal News reported early last month on the acquisition of another mobile home park

Many residents of a Montgomery County mobile home park, which has been purchased by a company linked to hedge fund Alden Global Capital, have received notices to vacate, or notices to face eviction unless back charges are paid. Some of the tenants are disputing the charges. A tenants’ meeting has been scheduled for Saturday at Belview United Methodist Church, according to a tenant organizer. […]

The new owner is listed in county records as Massie MHP LLC, care of Homes of America LLC, care of Tom Del Bosco, located in Englewood, New Jersey.

A 2008 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission notice of sale of securities, found online, identified Alden Global Capital as a division of Smith Management LLC. Thomas Del Bosco and Randall Smith are listed among the executive officers of Alden.[…]

“And when you look at the letter, it’s not an eviction letter, it’s a notice to quit,” Rupp said. “And it said, you basically have to pay up … $700 by Oct. 28, or you will be evicted. And she didn’t owe any money. She had been paying all of her rent on time.” The next day, another aide told Rupp that three other students’ families had also received similar notices.

Rupp provided Cardinal News with two documents. One is a “Notice to Quit” that requires the tenant to vacate the premises within 30 days due to an “incurable lease violation” described as an account delinquency of $20.

Another tenant received a “Material Noncompliance Notice For Failure To Pay Rent” stating that the tenant owed $713.49 in rent for the period Aug. 1 to Oct. 18. The tenant was given five days to pay in full or face termination of the lease.

* Cardinal News reported today that residents are suing over a water shutoff

After water was briefly cut off to residents by the new owners of Massie Mobile Home Park in Montgomery County, some tenants are suing the park with the assistance of Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society.

A hearing is set for Jan. 6 in Montgomery/Christiansburg General District Court. At issue is a shutoff of water to park residents for a few hours on Nov. 15 by the county’s Public Service Authority due to nonpayment. The bill was owed by the park management, not by the individual residents.

Kristi Murray is a staff attorney with Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society. She specializes in housing and is based in the organization’s Christiansburg office.

“We started getting some phone calls from residents that morning that they had no water service. So we started calling our other tenants that we were already assisting … and we found that most all of our residents there did not have water service that day,” Murray said. […]

It is not clear why the park’s owner, Massie MHP LLC, delayed paying the bill. Creasy did not return a message requesting comment.

* Minot Daily News

Nearly a year after Homes of America, LLC began buying mobile home parks in Minot, the issues and complaints being raised by residents remain the same. Communication remains a problem, with some waiting weeks or months for a response to their queries and requests. […]

Despite making contact with past and present employees of Homes of America, none were willing to speak on the record. Further attempts to contact Homes of America leadership directly were not responded to.

While Homes of America LLC was formed in Delaware, its filings with the North Dakota Secretary of State lists a New Jersey address that it shares with the firm Smith Management LLC, the parent company of the hedge fund Alden Global Capital. The COO of HOA is a man named Bryon Fields Jr. of Charlotte, North Carolina, according to Fields’ Linkedin page. Based on public records scraped by the website corporatewiki.com, Fields is also an officer of three other mobile home park LLCs located in Florida. His fellow officers include Alden President Heath Freeman, Smith Management Executive Vice President and CFO Tom Del Bosco, and Alden CFO Joshua P. Kleban.

A call to Alden Global Capital’s New York City office was answered, with the receptionist offering to direct the call to those overseeing Homes of America. After being transferred, no speaker announced themselves, and promptly hung up.

* More…

* From the bird app…

       

14 Comments
  1. - Roadrager - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 11:39 am:

    Prison. That’s all I can say about Randall Smith and Alden while following the commenting rules of this site.


  2. - Demoralized - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 12:00 pm:

    And people wonder why some of us favor taxing the heck out of people like this.


  3. - Mauve Floyd - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 12:01 pm:

    There are some trailer parks constructed on valuable real estate. Force out residents, close the park and sell the land at a premium. Repeat.
    Pump and dump.


  4. - DuPage Saint - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 12:03 pm:

    I wonder if Sam Zell advised them. I believe he was big into mobile home parks. I believe and probably still true people living in mobile home parks have the least protection and rights regarding their homes


  5. - Amalia - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 12:13 pm:

    Old enough to remember when Berkshire Hathaway was a clothing company. Money. Money. Money. Everybody go out and buy a local actual paper newspaper.


  6. - Anon221 - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 12:19 pm:

    Here is the manager’s address based on the March 18, 2021 filing of Homes of America, LLC on the IL SOS page- FIELDS, BRYON, 10151 DEERWOOD PARK BLVD, JACKSONVILLE, FL 32256

    He apparently moved up the ladder very quickly in the Alden team. From Intern in 2017 to COO in 2022. https://www.signalhire.com/profiles/bryon-fields%27s-email/154410013


  7. - NIU Grad - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 12:25 pm:

    No shame about being a villain. His entire life is focused on destroying the lives of others.


  8. - G'Kar - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 12:28 pm:

    I know this might be regarded as a drive by, but the only words that comes to mind: Scum of the Earth.


  9. - Paul Der Eck - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 1:21 pm:

    Hedge funds use money loaned by banks to purchase assets. They don’t use their own cash.


  10. - Southerner - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 1:21 pm:

    So wait, you’re saying a hedge fund that wants to gut newspapers and make reporters live in poverty also is trying to rip off residents of trailer parks?


  11. - Township official - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 2:35 pm:

    DuPage Saint, you are correct. In Illinois, mobile home parks are often found in unincorporated areas that are generally neglected by the county police and officials. There are a number of grifts I have witnessed, including refusing to allow a home to be sold so that the owner is forced to sell it back to the park owner for peanuts on the dollar. So often the residents of these communities are harassed and mistreated with little to no recourse. I am not surprised to see that Alden is a member of the mobile home park owners mafia.


  12. - Midwesterner - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 2:37 pm:

    Find it hard to believe there is at least some of this conduct violates the criminal law provisions of the Federal Government as well as the 50 states. It’s probably worthwhile to reach out to local prosecutors and even local U.S. Attorney’s offices.


  13. - One Idea - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 3:13 pm:

    The less journalists the better. Allows those who truly do Gods work to prosper, just like with thanksgiving dinner and high property taxes less always means more.


  14. - Name Withheld - Friday, Dec 2, 22 @ 4:45 pm:

    That headline rocks! Great job, Isabel.


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