Over the past 20 years, manufactured home communities increasingly have gone from “mom and pop” enterprises to ownership by large, multi-state corporations. While many residents own their own homes, they pay rent, known as lot fees, for use of the land. The increase of multi-state, corporate ownership has brought with it an unsustainable business model that is based on rapidly escalating lot fees and decreasing investments in community infrastructure. This creates an economic trap for homeowners, who are usually unable to move their home for structural or regulatory reasons and therefore must either pay increasingly high lot fees or abandon their property. As a result, families in manufactured housing communities across the country are buckling under the pressures of increased financial stress that is ravaging the economic and retirement security of thousands of low-income families.
Cost cutting by corporate owners also leads to decreasing investment in community infrastructure resulting in increased wastewater treatment/septic system failures, improperly maintained roads and the potential increase of physical harm brought on by lack of maintenance. Each act of disinvestment leads directly to increases in economic, health and safety risks for manufactured homeowners and a drop in the quality of life for the surrounding community. The dynamics presented by the new ownership patterns are reviewed in a recent, Seattle Times article.
Of the more than 17 million people who currently reside in manufactured homes, 84% are white, and the median income for families in manufactured homes is roughly $30,000. In light of those demographics, one of the main aspects of MHAction’s work is to create and build relationships between largely white, rural and low-and fixed income communities with communities of color. Our country is bearing witness to damaging political movements that funnel the economic pain that families are facing into racial hatred and divisiveness. This dynamic enables support for public policy positions that stand in direct contradiction with the dreams and aspirations of those very families. MHAction works to take the anger that many manufactured homeowners feel because of their economic reality, and re-direct it towards the real perpetrators, corporate interests and economic policies that are harmful to all low-income communities, especially communities of color.