OLMSTED TOWNSHIP, Ohio – More than 1,000 senior citizens who live at the Columbia Mobile Home Park in Olmsted Township are upset that their rent went up nearly 20 percent almost overnight, 19/43 News' Harry Boomer reported.
The seniors were so angered by the rent increase that they have decided to take their landlord to court.
The park residents stood out in the early morning air on Monday to rally their support behind a fight to keep their rent down. Since last June, their rent has been boosted be nearly 20 percent.
"Every year, you raise it $10," 14-year park resident Fred Tahslar said. "This time, they raised it $40."
So many people are concerned about the big rate hikes that the 50-person capacity Berea Municipal Court couldn't hold them all. The court was forced to pay to rent the 550-seat German-American Cultural Center in order to hold the hearings.
"It's been very difficult to do this," 18-year park resident Nancy Harber said. "It's frustrating, anxiety-producing."
So that the people's voices are heard, police protection had to be provided, tables had to be set up for the attorneys, all of their legal papers had to be hauled in, the stenographer and a court reporter had a special setup and even the magistrate had a makeshift bench.
"I don't think that there has been any other court that has done this," Berea magistrate S. Robert Lazarro said.
Several hundred Columbia residents were at the cultural center on Monday. They said that they would be back on Tuesday morning, when the hearings resume. The whole trial is expected to last approximately four days.