Why Cities All Across America Are Suddenly Buying Up Trailer Parks

Much like the historic run that nearly resulted in the collapse of the global financial system in 2009, home prices in the U.S. are once again looking more like an Amazon or Facebook stock price chart than a stable store of value that should probably grow roughly inline with overall inflation. 

And while these price gains are great news for the private equity firms that scooped up foreclosed homes after the last housing crisis, they're once again making it nearly impossible for the average American family to find affordable housing. 

As such, as the Pew Charitable Trusts points out, municipalities all across the country are suddenly scooping up trailer parks in an effort to prevent them from being converted to the next McMansion track-housing project and maintain some affordable housing options.

Here in the heart of one of Colorado’s most expensive cities, Isabel Sanchez bought a mobile home seven years ago for just $6,000. Her four-bedroom bungalow now sits on a lot she rents for $355 a month.

 

The mobile home park Sanchez and her family live in offers a glimpse of Boulder’s hippie past. Small houses and trailers, many dating to the 1960s and ’70s, sit close together on tree-lined streets. “I love the space, I love the location, I love the community here,” Sanchez, 55, said recently, relaxing in a blue armchair in her spotless living room.

 

Affordable neighborhoods like these have become hard to find in Boulder and cities across the country where home prices are soaring. In some metro areas, rising prices are prompting park owners to sell their land to developers, affordable housing advocates say. “When the mortgage crisis came about it sort of slowed down, and now it’s heating up again,” said Carolyn Carter, deputy director of the National Consumer Law Center.

 

So Boulder and a handful of other localities, desperate to hang on to homes middle- and working-class people can afford, have stepped in to buy parks, fix them up, and transfer ownership to residents or to a nonprofit on condition that rents be kept low.

 

Portland, Oregon’s housing authority financed a deal last year that saved a mobile home park from being sold to a developer. Pitkin County, Colorado, is buying a park it intends to set aside for people who work in the area. And Boulder bought a park this summer, with the twin goals of improving its infrastructure and maintaining affordable housing.

 

Affordable housing advocates say that the best way to preserve mobile home parks is to turn them into co-operatives owned by residents. But in Boulder, land is so valuable — and parks need so many infrastructure upgrades — that it wouldn’t be possible for low-income residents to finance the purchase alone.  

TPB

As Pew notes, roughly 8 million Americans live in trailer parks around the country and when their land is sold off for the next housing development they have no choice but to scramble to find new housing.

About 20 million Americans live in manufactured homes — so called because they’re built in a factory, rather than on site — and about two-fifths of those can be found in mobile home parks, mostly in suburbs and exurbs.

 

Mobile homes are an important source of low-income housing. But homeownership can be precarious for people who live in mobile home parks. Because they don’t own the land beneath their houses or trailers, they have to move if the park closes down.

 

And many mobile homes aren’t all that mobile. Sanchez, who works at a nonprofit in Denver, says she could probably move her house if she had to because it was built recently. Her daughter’s house across the street may be a different story. It has sat there for over 40 years, like most of the homes in the park.

 

The closure of a mobile home park can create a crisis for residents and for the city or town they live in as dozens of displaced people scramble to find new housing, says Esther Sullivan, a sociologist at the University of Colorado Denver who has studied mobile home parks in Texas and Florida. In her research, she found that city council members who agree to rezone a park often argue that park residents can move into low-income housing elsewhere. But that’s not always the case, she said.

Meanwhile, national nonprofits have sprung up to help residents form co-ops and finance purchases.

One way to preserve mobile home parks is to give the people who live in them a chance to buy the park themselves at a fair market rate, says Carter of the National Consumer Law Center. A national nonprofit called ROC USA will, with the permission of the park owner, help residents form a co-operative and finance a purchase. ROC USA has sponsored some 200 resident-owned communities in the United States.

 

At least 19 states have laws on the books that help residents buy a park, Carter says. Some states require park owners to give residents months of advance notice before a park is sold, to notify residents if they request a zoning change for the property, or to allow residents to organize into homeowners associations. Other states will free up money when a park closes to help residents pay their relocation costs or require park owners to chip in.

Of course, we could also just reduce artificial demand for McMansions by reversing a decade of misinformed Fed policies...but that might result in the bursting of yet another nasty little bubble...

Comments

Escrava Isaura Yukon Cornholius Sun, 10/29/2017 - 10:34 Permalink

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Why Cities All Across America Are Suddenly Buying Up Trailer Parks? Go ask the third world.  

In reply to by Yukon Cornholius

Mtnrunnr Life of Illusion Sun, 10/29/2017 - 12:02 Permalink

Dude. You need to take a drive to exurbs around any metro areas. There is plenty of housing in and around cities already but the capacity has been bought up by one or two actors and they're fleecing all the middle class and poor out of their money so about 3/4ths sit vacant. Then the big developers go into pristine forest land and buy up massive acerage outside cities and destroy it for massive units that also sit vacant or are for 'the mid 400's!!'. No one can really afford those either. Either A) you force the housing companies to sell their units, which I know you're against. B) you force rent prices down, which I know you're against. Or C) you let the city buy up trailer parks and affordable housing, which you also appear to be against. What is your solution Mr. Asshat?

In reply to by Life of Illusion

Creepy_Azz_Crackaah Mtnrunnr Sun, 10/29/2017 - 12:22 Permalink

D) Get the gubmint the fuck out of it because the gubmint is what COMPLETELY FUCKS UP markets.  Introduce free markets and let them work.  If someone can't afford to buy where they want - tough shit.  They can improve themselves so that they can.  Or, they can be a fuckup and live in a trailer park 40 miles from their job, or, more likely, welfare check office while demanding that other people pay for them to live where they prefer to live.It is bullshit that developers are building massive communities all over the place that aren't selling.  If that were so, prices would either plummet, the builder would go bankrupt, or both.I just had a mix of a few hundred condos, townhouses and houses built fairly near me on what used to be land with about ten houses on it.  The condos, in the $300Ks weren't selling.  The townhouses and houses sold quickly.  The price of the condos dropped to the $200Ks and they're now selling.  Markets work.  It wasn't the gubmint that stepped in to force the builder to lower prices.  The builder had to based on market forces - even though it is a skewed market due to GUBMINT INTERFERENCE.

In reply to by Mtnrunnr

PT Creepy_Azz_Crackaah Sun, 10/29/2017 - 19:08 Permalink

Perhaps if the banksters were forced to hold onto the loans they made, instead of offloading them onto the sucker- I mean "investors"  (probably your super fund), perhaps if the banksters weren't bailed out, maybe they would pay more attention to the idiot "borrower" 's ability, or lack thereof, to repay a loan.  You know, if you're a "professional" lender, wouldn't you have some kind of, ummm, reason, to check these things?For those who came in late:"Liars Poker""The Big Short (Inside The Doomsday Machine"both by Michael Lewis.For those who doubt:We all did maths for at least ten years.  You have easy access to pens, paper, pocket calculators, you learnt algebra but if it is still too hard then you still have access to computers and spreadsheets and compound interest formulas."What do you call a < stereo-typed impoverished minority in your area > driving a Porsche?""A thief."We all know the joke is funny and mostly true because the numbers usually do not add up.  Why does money-laundering exist?Because Large Assets plus Small Visible Income = Attention from the IRS and the Police.So look at the numbers - houses vs income, cheapest houses vs lowest incomes, average houses vs average incomes ...this shit ain't hard to figure out.http://fredgassit.tripod.com/fred018.gif

In reply to by Creepy_Azz_Crackaah

bruno_the Son of Captain Nemo Sun, 10/29/2017 - 15:52 Permalink

is this the same company?ROC USA LLC Florida Department Of State Business Registration · Updated 1/24/2017Write ReviewUpgradeClaim  Roc Usa LLC is a Florida Domestic Limited-Liability Company filed on August 19, 2014 . The company's filing status is listed as Active and its File Number is L14000129862. The Registered Agent on file for this company is Coradin Law P.A. and is located at 200 South Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33131. The company's principal address is C/O Coradin Law Pa 200 South Biscayne Blvd #2790, Miami, FL 33131 and its mailing address is C/O Coradin Law Pa 200 South Biscayne Blvd #2790, Miami, FL 33131.The company has 1 principal on record. The principal is Coradin Law P.A. from Miami FL. https://www.bizapedia.com/fl/roc-usa-llc.html

In reply to by Son of Captain Nemo

PT waspwench Sun, 10/29/2017 - 19:12 Permalink

I wonder how small and unaffordable housing has to become before people start building their own out of any free scraps they find laying around - squatting on whatever "free" land they can find, not too far from civilization.Unrelated note:  Gym / swimming pool membership + live under a bridge (gym / pool gives you access to toilets and showers)Bridge?  I've heard that some sleep in the tanning booths.  Just make sure the damn thing is unplugged first.

In reply to by waspwench

PT waspwench Sun, 10/29/2017 - 19:25 Permalink

Re "Every member of our government should be summarily shot.   The US has been destroyed and they are the people who have destroyed it.":  The banksters will happily direct the replacement govt to continue the same policies.  Take out the banksters.Banksters lent money to those who could not repay, forcing prices up for everyone.  The highest bidder at the auction was not the one who worked hardest or provided the most / best goods and services for the rest of society.  The highest bidder was the one who borrowed more than he could repay.  The sensible people missed out.By the time the govt enabled the bailouts, the banksters had been pocketing illicit gains for ten years.  During this time, good bankers were sacked / passed over for promotion due to "lack of performance" while the corrupt banksters were promoted / got their bonuses.Govt dismantled Glass Steagall ... due to lobbying by the banksters.  (Side note:  Lobbying?  They would call it "Democracy in action" - funny how that works.)  i.e.  The protections put in place to try and stop a repeat of the worse parts of The Great Depression were removed so you ended up with ... a repeat of some (not all) of the worse parts of The Great Depression.Net result:  Good people work their guts out and get nothing in return.  Banksters end up owning all the land.  When you look at the final result you see that the "free market" system was hacked in order to steal all the land.  Govt did not steal the land.  The banksters stole the land.  Govt was the intermediary, the tool the banksters used.  Govt was supposed to protect the people from the banksters.  Instead Govt was the tool of the banksters.  So yeah, go ahead, shoot the govt for their role in the theft, but if you want to stop the looting then shoot the banksters too or shoot the banksters first.

In reply to by waspwench

waspwench PT Mon, 10/30/2017 - 02:30 Permalink

You are right.   Everything you say is true. As long as the bankers can afford to buy the government they will.   They are acting rationally, although criminally.Our government representatives no longer represent us.   They line their own pockets and have no interest in those who elect them.   They are also acting rationally, although criminally.The criminality of the banksters and the politicians should be dealt with in the courts, but they too are corrupt.They should all be shot, but that is unlikely.     This is getting really depressing.Any solutions?

In reply to by PT

Parrotile Stuck on Zero Sun, 10/29/2017 - 18:34 Permalink

> If you're going to let in hundreds of millions of third world immigrants you're going to have to build 40 story ghetto blocks by the thousands. <Would these "Third World Immigrants" be those whose formerly very nice, very liveable cities have been on the receiving end of US-directed "kinetic regime management"??Maybe if you DON'T want these "immigrants" (a.k.a. refugees), a first step would be to fully rebuild their cities to the original (or better) standard?YOU have caused the "problem" - up to YOU to fix it - to the standards expected by those YOU displaced.

In reply to by Stuck on Zero