From: Ann Zabaldo (
Date: Sun, 22 Sep 2013 13:19:55 -0700 (PDT)
Hi Wayne -

I don't believe David was talking about "wind" issues  but more about ruthless 
landlords and lot owners and poor maintenance etc.  I agree ALL these things 
are true.  But they are true to some extent for ALL rentals.  And that was what 
my remark about.  You have to do your homework.  And who is talking about 
moving into a mobile home park?  If I was assisting a group organizing a 
cohousing community w/ manufactured housing as the housing stock the group 
would be buying its own property and not dealing w/ a landlord so it seems a 
moot point.

If you're talking about "windy" ... FL and hurricanes = wind and water ...  I 
lived in a trailer for 3+ years in college in the panhandle of FL. I LOVED it.  
I had my own bedroom and bath on one end of a 60 ft mobile home.  My other two 
roommates, a couple, had a larger BR and BA at the other end.  The LR and 
Kitchen were in between.  It was kinda like "roommate cohousing" -- our own 
private space w/ shared amenities in between.  If tied down properly mobile 
homes are secure.    The woman in the article was right:  you have to get past 
the notion of "trailers, "cheap," "trash" "low income," etc.  It's not perfect 
housing.  I don't even advocate for it because the zoning issues are too high a 
bar BUT if you live in some municipalities where zoning is not an issue and you 
would like to do affordable housing ... manufactured housing is one option.

Fred, et al., I didn't clip any of the emails because I couldn't figure out 
what to clip that would be extraneous in this exchange.  Seems as if all the 
text is important to a person just jumping in on the conversation ...

Best --

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

On Sep 22, 2013, at 12:05 PM, Wayne Tyson wrote:

> I hesitate to conclude that Mandel was making "sweeping generalizations."
> Trailer homes are not suited to windy regions. They are "cheap," but often 
> structurally inadequate.
> Prefabricated (and even cheaper) corregated arch-type buildings are safer 
> and much less likely to be damaged by storms, but the building industry is 
> not interested in safety, they are interested in profits--speaking of 
> sweeping generalizations--and they lobby against "unsightly" buildings, 
> convincing the public that the practical is merely "utilitarian," and 
> utility is too ugly to be permitted.
> Reality cannot, however, be turned back by wishful thinking.
> WT
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Ann Zabaldo" <zabaldo [at]>
> To: "David L. Mandel" <dlmandel [at]>; "Cohousing-L" 
> <cohousing-l [at]>
> Sent: Sunday, September 22, 2013 6:06 AM
>> 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 either!!!
>> 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
>> 703-688-2646
>> 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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