Grand Canyon University: Private, Christian, Affordable – But at What Cost?

Brooklin Curtis, Reporter

Periwinkle Mobile Residents, located at 27th Avenue and Colter Street in Phoenix, will be evicted May 28 after a 2016 land purchase by Grand Canyon University and a subsequent failed injunction by the Phoenix City Council.

In 2016, GCU bought the land the Periwinkle Mobile Home Park stands on in order to eventually construct student apartments their actions will result in fragmenting a community. 

The residents have built an entire community there: families are connected and people rely on one other. 

Resident Gerry Suter has lived in the trailer park for 29 years; his sentiment towards the evictions represent the attachment residents feel not to the park itself but to their community of people. He points out that forcing evictions will destroy the community that residents have built. 

In Joe Hudownik’s article, “Mobile home park fights Christian university over forced eviction,”he depicts an exchange between Suter and another resident Alondra Ruiz Vasquez where she covered his legs with a blanket and offered to drive him to his doctor’s appointment. 

This simple act of kindness is one that resembles a family relationship. 

GCU has failed to recognize that the most vital part of the trailer park is not the land, it is the people. 

GCU acquired the property in 2016 intending to use it for future campus expansion, since then, the university has not raised the rent and has offered various amenities to the current residents (free tutoring, free rent, $5,000 in incidentals) however, the residents emphasize that the offerings are negligible in comparison to the worth of their homes and community. 

While many of the residents own their home, they rent the land it is on; unfortunately, many of the aging trailers can not be moved without getting damaged. 

Facing displacement, many of the residents are protesting the eviction process and arguing for better accommodations. 

The remaining residents have teamed up with Community Legal Services, a non profit law firm. 

At a hearing on March 22, a young girl named Michelle appeared before the City Council and said, “I’m being displaced.” 

The families fought for concessions from GCU as well as two proposals that would help: a zoning overlay and a 18-month moratorium- both would delay the process giving families more time to find a place. 

Both proposals were declined, and instead the council approved a $2.5 million fund for relocations. 

However, for many, that will be difficult since their mobile homes are no longer mobile or because the inflated rent prices in Phoenix are unmanageable. 

Councilmembers voted against the proposals because they believed it would put the city at legal and financial risk because it went against Proposition 207 which protects property rights.  

Council Laura Pastor scoffed at the current communications plan; she said, “I don’t know what communications plan you’ll do…maybe you’ll be like, ‘Uh, tomorrow you’ll be homeless. Thank the city and thank those that voted for you to be homeless.'”

To further help the residents, GCU has connected with Trellis, a federally funded nonprofit that provides housing support. 

However, for a lot of residents it’s not easy to move especially when they are forced to move away from their community. 

It’s not a fact of whether we have to move or not,” Ruiz Vazquez said. “It’s destroying our community. It’s destroying who we are.”



Duhownik, Joe. “Mobile Home Park Fights Christian University over Forced Eviction.” Courthouse News Service, 

Rihl, Juliette, and Taylor Seely. “Mobile Home Evictions Moving Forward Following Phoenix Council Vote.” The Arizona Republic, Arizona Republic, 23 Mar. 2023, 

Schwenk, Katya. “Trailer Park Residents Battle Grand Canyon University over Eviction Plans.” Phoenix New Times, Phoenix New Times, 21 Sept. 2022, 

Schwenk, Katya. “’I’m Being Displaced’: Phoenix City Council Fails to Stop Evictions at Three Trailer Parks.” Phoenix New Times, Phoenix New Times, 30 Mar. 2023,