Noting that baby boomers are poorer than their parents, with half of those facing retirement having less than $10,000 in the bank and one of six of them living in poverty, psmag informs MHProNews the residents of the 333 factory-built homes at Pismo Dunes Senior Park in central Calif. have answered the question “Where are seniors going to live?” very effectively. Affectionately called “Pismodise” by the residents, people living on $900 a month in a 1960’s travel trailer with an added sunroom and carport nestle next to a modern manufactured home with a bay window, fancy porches and nice cars owned by people with incomes of $15,000 a month, and they both have equal views of the Pacific Ocean. (A survey by Farmers Insurance in 2012 of seniors living in manufactured homes found that while 30 percent have assets under $25,000, nine percent had assets amounting to $250,000 and some had over $500,000.) Noting Pismo Dunes’ manager Louise Payne calls it “a holding tank for the great beyond,” residents tend to take care of each other and are required to greet each other at the daily cocktail gathering even if they have an issue with each other. One of the longest studies of aging conducted over 34 years in Calif. found that people who have five or more friends, avoid depression, and walk for exercise–as they do at Pismo– can expect to live six years more without having to depend on others for help with activities of daily living. Seniors who are isolated, living in an urban area with high crime and high traffic are more likely to end up in a nursing home, with costs starting at $52,000 annually, often picked up by taxpayers. Despite the common perception that manufactured home communities have high crime rates and even contribute to crime, a study by the University of Illinois-Chicago of an MHC in Omaha, NE found the rate of crime no different than in the rest of society. A couple of years ago, Louise threw a “trailer trash” party. She says, “We had bras hanging from clotheslines in the clubhouse. Fried potatoes! Fried spam! Pickled eggs and okra! We even got an outhouse for the decorations.” Paul Bradley, president of ROC (resident-owned communities) USA, a non-profit that helps residents of MHCs buy their communities, says, “Trailer trash jokes are still acceptable in polite circles where other prejudicial humor wouldn’t be considered funny.” Noting financing for manufactured homes is dinosaurish because it dates back to them being treated as motor vehicles instead of residences, he adds they will not draw baby boomers until the risks are reduced through an updated business model and modernized regulations. Even though newer manufactured homes are made greener, costing on average $1,000 a year to cover for utility bills, the stigma remains and will continue until policy-makers see the value of and the need for the product. Meanwhile, manufacturers have to choose between making innovative homes with green technology for a market that barely exists, and the less expensive homes for the market that does.
(Photo credit: Arnaldo Abba/psmag–Pismo Dunes Senior Park)