From: David L. Mandel (
Date: Sat, 21 Sep 2013 13:03:31 -0700 (PDT)
Yes, a mobile home park can be great and affordable, but as a longtime legal 
aid attorney for seniors, I also saw far too many instances of abuse and 
exploitation. Owners of private parks -- to whom residents pay rent, are 
generally in business to make a profit, and that can often mean one of two very 
different strategies as time goes on:

        * Jack up rents while strictly enforcing rules -- having to do with 
upkeep and appearance, way beyond safety -- that are hard to follow if you're 
low income.
        * Neglect maintenance, ignore rules and permit bullies to abuse and 
exploit more vulnerable neighbors, squeezing profits as long as possible while 
awaiting or even seeking buyers who will get the place rezoned for more 
profitable use. 

Either way, residents who can't take it any more -- lower income ones in the 
first, scared, fed up decent people in the second -- leave. And they suffer an 
economic blow in the process: As noted, it's nearly impossible to move a mobile 
home to another park, despite the name. So the unscrupulous owners can obtain 
them cheaply or for nothing if they're abandoned, then resell or rent for more 

This is California, and there may be more protective regulation elsewhere, but 
as with affordable housing generally, the best real answer is to remove it from 
the private, profit-motivated market. I've seen a few success stories in which 
residents bought out the owners and converted parks to co-ops, which likely ups 
the level of social cooperation as well. But despite the availability of some 
state funding available for this purpose, lower-income residents are much less 
likely to be able to afford participation. Conceivably, mobile home parks, like 
land for other types of housing, could be owned by community land trusts and 
thus made permanently affordable. I haven't seen that happen, though.

David Mandel, Sacramento

 From: Ann Zabaldo <zabaldo [at]>
To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at]> 
Sent: Saturday, September 21, 2013 8:18 AM

Hi all --

I think we covered this option in the flurry of emails about affordability 
recently but not in so much detail.  Happy to see it's resurfaced.   The only 
thing that contemporary manufactured housing has in common w/ its predecessor 
"trailer" or mobile home iterations is ... it comes to the lot on wheels.  
After that ... it's locked down in place generally never to move again.  The 
upper end producers of manufactured housing have green and sustainable options 
plus you can negotiate to "build to specs."

This is a fabulous option if you live in an area in which the zoning laws will 
allow this type of housing.  If not allowed, it would be a lot of work to 
change the zoning laws to allow it.  I can already hear the neighbors crying 
about property values.  So ... look where this type of housing is allowed.  
That will be safest and easiest.  Don't be surprised if it's many miles from an 
urban area but if location is not an issue ... this is a very solid option for 
affordable housing.

Best --

Ann Zabaldo
Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington, DC
Principal, Cohousing Collaborative, LLC
Falls Church VA

On Sep 21, 2013, at 11:05 AM, Sharon Villines wrote:

> On Sep 21, 2013, at 12:54 AM, John Leet <jwleet [at]> wrote:
>> Here is a link to an insightful article I found in Utne reader, reprinted 
>> from Pacific Standard Magazine: 
> I hope people will click through and read this article. It's a nice piece of 
> journalism and a thorough history and analysis of manufactured homes, which 
> is what most "trailer parks" are. They are also wonderful communities as the 
> article discusses. A number of nice profiles of residents. Links to studies, 
> information, and other journals. Anyone who is interested in senior cohousing 
> should read this.

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