From: Ann Zabaldo (
Date: Sun, 22 Sep 2013 06:06:50 -0700 (PDT)
David -- all you say is true.  But all this is true of just about everything in 
housing, consumer affairs (I was a consumer affairs expert in a previous life) 
poker games, medicine, religion, families, etc.  There's exploitation 
everywhere.  Even in cohousing and NOT from the developers of cohousing 

I come from the land of trailer home parks:  Florida.  And I can testify that 
while there are  many abuses there are also just as many or more "parks" that 
are well run and in which people LOVE to live.  In fact, many "snowbirds" have 
"mobile homes" in FL as 2nd homes.  Plus there are mobile home parks that have 
become "senior" communities as people have aged in place.  The owners and 
managers are finding themselves offering more services to these seniors as 
municipal services dwindle.

I would be hesitant to make sweeping negative generalizations about any one 
segment of society.  Except maybe roaches...

Best --

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

On Sep 21, 2013, at 4:03 PM, David L. Mandel wrote:

> 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 profit.
> 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
> 703-688-2646
> 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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