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Academics ‘debunk stereotypes’ around mobile home parks in search of affordable housing solutions | New


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The Rancho La Mesa mobile home park in Sunnyvale, California (right) is more densely developed than the adjacent single-family residential neighborhoods (left). Google Earth, CC BY-ND



A group of north american teachers seeks to debunk common stereotypes about mobile home parks in the United States. Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning Zachary Lamb (University of California, Berkeley), Assistant Professor of Geography and Planning Jason Spicer (University of Toronto) and Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning Linda Shi (Cornell University) hope that their defense of the typology make mobile homes a “new face of affordable housing”.

“More than 20 million Americans live in manufactured housing – more than in public housing and federally subsidized rental housing combined,” the group states in its report. recent think piece on The conversation. “Yet many people, including city planners and affordable housing researchers, view prefab housing stock as a problem. Instead, we see them as part of the solution to housing crises.

In response to criticism that manufactured homes are “low quality”, the group argues that manufactured homes have had to meet federal safety standards since 1976. “Today, new, properly installed manufactured homes are comparable to homes built on-site with respect to resisting wind, fire and other disaster threats,” they note, arguing that many of the quality issues associated with the typology are instead the fault of improper installation, maintenance of the park and a lack of infrastructure maintenance.

Related on Archinect: How a mobile home community started a co-op and bought their own land. Image credit: oatsy40/Flickr

The group also addresses the argument that prefab housing stock is exploitative. Since residents often do not own the land their home sits on, they may be vulnerable to predatory actions by park owners, such as rent hikes, evictions, or poor grounds maintenance. In response, the group argues that a cooperative model could allow residents to jointly purchase their land, as has already happened in more than 1,000 prefab housing stock in the United States.

In response to criticism that prefab housing stocks are not urban or dense enough to address the housing crisis, the group notes that 61% of prefab housing is located in metropolitan areas, while the typical density of 8 to 15 homes per acre of manufactured housing stock is often higher than that of neighboring neighborhoods.

Related on Archinect: On the potential ‘second draft’ of America’s suburbs

The group also disputes the argument that prefabricated housing stock is only disconnected from surrounding neighborhoods, noting that the same argument could be made for most post-World War II residential neighborhoods, including gated communities and dead ends.

“Decades of experience show that resident ownership can transform prefabricated housing parks from sites of stigma and vulnerability into stable and resilient communities,” the group notes. “Governments could enact laws giving tenants the opportunity to purchase their rental units and provide subsidized loans and grants to resident co-ops.”