Tony, It’s a tough situation. The problem is that it is easier for state and local government to impose rent and/or development restrictions on mobile home parks than to assume responsibility for preserving or creating an adequate supply of affordable housing.
This is because it costs money to create affordable housing, which local governments don’t have, and it is more politically expedient to put the screws to a business owner and get favorable press for protecting a group of economically challenged homeowners.
This is unfair to the private sector and quite frankly, should be unconstitutional.
With that said, it is the responsibility of all parties to do the right thing.
A community owner shouldn’t be compelled to close a community without regard for homeowners. The community owner should help minimize the impact by working with local government and social service agencies to identify alternative housing options.
Early in my career I had the good fortune to work with a community owner and city in Connecticut to minimize the impact of a community closing. The community owner was willing to adjust their timeframe and financially contribute to moving residents to a new community that the city agreed to develop. This was not an inexpensive proposition, for either party, but it was the right thing to do and it resulted in the preservation of much needed affordable housing in a high cost area.
In Florida, we recognized the harmful impact of community closings on displaced homeowners and the industry and worked with government, homeowners and community owners to help minimize the negative impact.
The Florida Mobile Home Relocation Trust Fund is not a total solution, but it provides some relief. The Trust Fund is funded by community owners and homeowners and provides displaced homeowners relocation assistance in the event their community closes.
Older mobile home parks will close when they become obsolete or the value of the underling land greatly exceeds its current land use. This cannot be prevented. However, the industry needs to be proactive to minimize the negative impact on displaced homeowners. ##
James R. Ayotte, CAE
Florida Manufactured Housing Association (FMHA)
1284 Timberlane Road
Tallahassee, FL 32312
(Editor’s note: MHProNews plans to do a report on this recent episode on the thorny subject of community closures, and the impact on residents, the industry and how it impacts the public perception of manufactured homes in land lease communities. Other thoughtful viewpoints are encouraged.).