Dare to See the Possibilities in Manufactured Homes

Residents in the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park in Palo Alto, Calif., are fighting to stop the sale of their community to a luxury housing developer. At stake is the loss of precious affordable housing and access to good schools for their kids, along with the destruction of a community.
They're hoping for a success story like the many featured in the pages of the latest issue of Shelterforce, but the battle becomes significantly more complicated when the homeowners don't own the land. 
Winton Pitcoff, in a piece titled “Manufacturing Solutions,” details the challenges for residents in these type of situations, leading with a story about residents in Minnesota who formed a cooperative to purchase and preserve their homes.
Those in mobile homes are among the most vulnerable, with low incomes, few assets, and the uncertainty that comes with the looming possibility of eviction. Pitcoff urges community developers to see the possibilities of manufactured homes as solutions in the affordable housing crisis and to use models like community land trusts and co-ops to help homeowners.
Manufactured homes today are very different from the ones made in the '60s and '70s and should be embraced as real solutions for affordability, Pitcoff says. “HUD regulations implemented in 1976 imposed construction and safety standards on manufactured housing that ultimately moved the industry away from metal-on-metal travel trailers to today’s factory-built frame homes that conform to the same building codes as, and look much like, site-built houses, with asphalt-shingled roofs and vinyl siding and windows,” Pitcoff writes.
Resident Owned Communities USA (ROC USA) has been working with communities to form co-ops, but there are many challenges, one of the first being that residents can't purchase the land unless it's offered to them.
That's the struggle for residents in Buena Vista, who attempted to buy the property but were turned down in favor of a luxury housing developer who would pay double, as reported by NPR
The residents are petitioning the city government to stop a sale, pushing the value of diversity for the whole community. This stands as another reason why community developers, as some have written on Rooflines, should return to their organizing roots. 
Has your organization considered manufactured homes when it comes to affordable living options or is there still a negative bias against them?
(Photo courtesy of Next Step)

Jodi Weinberger served as assistant editor of Shelterforce from 2013 to 2014.


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