mobile home organizing campaign
colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu
colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu
Wed Feb 9 12:41:51 CST 2005
[ed: thanks to Larry for engaging the discussion.]
From: Larry Yates <lamaryates at igc.org>
Overall, people living in manufactured housing/mobile homes are among
the most powerless in the country -- as generally they are lower income
people who are also living in housing that is the subject of
stigmatization and jokes from pretty much the rest of the population.
Perhaps most serious, unlike most tenants, they cannot simply put their
possessions in a truck and move on -- they cannot move at all without
either losing the home they own or finding a place to move it to --
something that gets harder to do every day. In a way, they have the
worst of being both homeowners and tenants -- tied to a piece of
housing, but with no real estate equity; at the mercy of a landlord, but
without the usual tenant's options in a larger housing market.
Mobile home owners/lot tenants have become a political force in a few
places. I know in Vermont they were part of tenant organizing efforts
there in the 80s. In California, they actually became a statewide
political force, and got legislative changes to their benefit, again in
the 80s or earlier. I have not kept track of these efforts. It would be
worth checking for such groups in Florida, where this housing is fairly
One solution to this kind of situation that should be doable is for a
nonprofit to acquire and manage the mobile home park. Such a nonprofit
could negotiate a situation where tenants can stay as long as they live
and want to stay, but no new mobile homes come in. It may be necessary
for the tenants to separate themselves from the owner -- I don't want to
stereotype or assume anything, but a lot of mobile home park owners have
been guilty of various unsavory maneuvers, and often the locality gets
away with displacing the tenants by focusing on the sins of the owners.
(Right now in Roanoke Virginia, there is a mobile home park owner who
has been found grossly violating environmental/sewage regulations; there
is a real risk that as a result some mobile home residents, caught in
the middle, will lose their lots, and perhaps their homes.)
I think it is critical in this situation that local faith groups,
housing and homelessness organizations, civil rights groups, and groups
concerned about seniors, women and children, be put on the spot and
directly asked to support the tenants, who, I would be certain based on
my experience, have few other viable alternatives for housing. Local
decisionmakers must be made to see this as a housing crisis, not a
zoning issue. If necessary, the stigma of living in a "trailer" should
be confronted directly -- something like a kid holding a sign -- I may
live in a trailed but I'm not trash -- don't throw me away.
People who can't do anything else should send e-mails, as requested, but
in my experience issues like this are resolved locally, One "outside"
support might be "alumni" of the mobile home park -- anyone who has
moved on to relative success or fame and will speak up in defense of the
community (it was important for me when I needed it kind of thing..)
would be great.
The manufactured housing industry has a lot of information about mobile
homes, and in some limited ways, without offending the park owners, will
sometimes help tenants establish that mobile homes are a viable housing
alternative. They did some of that in Virginia in the 1980s -- I have no
idea what the state association in Florida now will be like, but it's
hope that helps
> From: Robert Perkis <robertp at icdus.com>
> Florida Trailer Park Needs Your Help:
> We are a 30 year old trailer park called Coral Lake in
> Coconut Creek Florida facing rezoning from MH1 mobile
> manufactured homes to PUD for townhouses. The city has
> made up fines to extort the owner of the park to sell
> to a redeveloper. We need people to email the commissioners
> and ask either the park be saved or the people receive
> a fair settlement instead of the state minimum of $1,375.
> to abandon a single wide or $2,750. to abandon a double.
> ($3,000. to move a single or $6,000 to move a double, most
> are too old to move anyway.) There are people with $30,000.
> mortgages and others who finally paid for their home and
> poor people with old trailers they fixed up nice. We have
> a web site with pictures and a link to the Commissioner's
> names and email. Please take a moment to learn about our
> fight and send an email in support it will be appreciated.
> Thank you. http://www.corallakemhp.com
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