Pam Bournival of Sarasota, Florida had this to say about the recent Harper’s Magazine article “The End of Retirement”

Jessica,

Your article, The End of Retirement, was a very interesting read especially since we hear almost similar stories quite often from homeowners who live in manufactured home ground rent communities. Everyone is searching for “community”, and many find it in manufactured home communities. Especially disconcerting is the way potential homeowners are enticed into the community and then they are hit with exorbitant rent increases, sometimes the very next year after moving in, along with limited maintenance and capital expenditures. The land owners, some of whom are large REIT’s answering to shareholders (many mutual funds) wanting ever increasing dividends, do just enough to make that quick first impression enticing. And they take full advantage of the fact that people do not check the fine print before signing on that dotted line. We want to believe in people, to trust people, to take them at their word . . . and then we learn the only thing which counts is what is in writing.  Increased rent for new homeowners makes it all but impossible for existing homeowners to sell for even a fraction of their home’s value.  When the rent is going to be so high, buyers won’t pay anything for the house.

People who have lived in a community for years or decades have seen their rents increase to such a level that it is no longer affordable. They are threatened with eviction and lawsuits, which furthers their nervousness about their future. After possibly spending many months deciding whether to pay rent or buy food or buy medicines, the brave ones just turn in the keys to their beloved home and walk away, sometimes to family and sometimes to who knows what? It could be that first step towards an RV in the desert.

You mention Social Security as a supplement to retirement. Alas, with the many pension funds decimated by greed and savings wiped out by Wall Street shenanigans, this leg of the stool is often all that is left to even the best of planners. We as a nation must stand up and speak out for doing what it takes to honor our elders and make sure they have safe, clean living environments. Social Security and Medicare need to be expanded to ensure this.

Monique Morrissey hit the nail on the head when she said that we have a reversal in economic security. Every parents’ dream is to see their children do better than they did and to not have to ask for anything from their children. What is wrong with America’s picture when so many of our precious elders are left out in the cold, in many cases quite literally?

And what does this say about corporate greed when they are presenting at conventions and gatherings where they know many of our elders will be, offering jobs which require heavy labor and offer minimal benefits? We should all feel so ashamed that we stand up in a unified voice to say it is not enough to offer aspirin so they can continue to work!!!

You cover the history of “retirement” and the belief when Social Security was initiated that many people would die before collecting. Now that we know many live well beyond the 65 years originally envisioned, more must be done to care for the retirees or our country. It is not enough to extend the age when a person can collect full benefits.

Teresa Ghilarducci states our retirees are woefully underfunded; they have small budgets for food. How healthy can they be eating? What are we as a nation going to do about this? We may believe that everyone should have planned better, but the truth of the matter is, it is so much more complicated than that. We have been in touch with the Senate Special Committee on Aging regarding the plight of manufactured homeowners and we are hoping for hearings about our issues. We must expand these hearings. We must hear from manufactured homeowners and recreational vehicle homeowners.

We invite you to hear our stories.  We look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, check out www.mhaction.org and “like” us on Facebook.

Pam Bournival

Sarasota, Fl.