AUSTIN, TX COUNCIL MEMBER BOLDLY SECURES VOTES TO PROTECT VULNERABLE MOBILE HOME RESIDENTS
“We want to legalize putting mobile homes anywhere in the city that’s residential.” – Greg Casar
Austin, Texas City Council member Greg Casar, who has prioritized preserving mobile homes in his District 4 and throughout the city since his election in 2014, said a measure approved by the Council on June 20 should change the way the city views Austin’s housing mix. “In the past, folks did not see mobile homes as an important housing type to keep in the city limits,” Casar told the Austin Chronicle. “But the tide has shifted. As part of our land development code rewrite, we want to legalize putting mobile homes/manufactured homes anywhere in the city that’s residential.”
As a measure to protect existing affordable housing, City Council at the June 20 session rezoned nine mobile home parks around the city, containing more than 450 homes, specifically for manufactured mobile home residential use (i.e., MH zoning). This continued a citywide effort to protect more than 800 units in locations where landowners could redevelop under existing zoning and displace residents with little recourse.
Many at the June 20 meeting, voiced opposition, (a common occurrence), to the zoning, citing the poor condition of some of the older units. Adele Loessberg, treasurer of the Old Town Condominiums, about a half-mile from the Patton Courts Mobile Home Park, said the park is “a slum, basically.” She added that its owners are “exploiting people who don’t have any money” by making them live in substandard housing.”
“MOST MOBILE HOME RESIDENTS ARE NOT INTERESTED IN MOVING”
Gabby Garcia, who has worked with Building and Strengthening Tenant Action (Basta) to increase tenant protections across the city acknowledged that some homes are in poor condition. “But it’s more complicated than that,” she explained to the Chronicle. “Mobile homes and parks allow people to own a home, even though they wouldn’t normally be able to do that. Maybe it needs repairs, but the home is theirs.” She said that most of the residents she worked with on the campaign were not interested in moving.
Garcia said the next steps for Basta would be monitoring future zoning change requests by landowners and beginning to work in some parks to develop cooperatives that could lead to a group ownership of the land, along with individual ownership of the housing units. Casar confirmed his office is looking at how the city can help mobile home residents to gain ownership of their parks.
PROTECTING VULNERABLE MOBILE HOME RESIDENTS IS A RARE OCCURRENCE
Here at ManufacturedHomes.com we monitor city and county council meetings and manufactured housing issues across the country. The common results of these measures designed to preserve and protect existing mobile homeowners, and those who desire to site new manufactured homes and community developments within local housing jurisdictions, are usually derailed by opposition from existing site-built homeowners and zoning authorities, believing that America’s only affordable housing, manufactured homes, and those that reside in them, would somehow degrade their property and community.
Example: Recently, the City of Bryan, Texas, just about 100 miles northeast of Austin, passed a measure that eventually disallows all placement of manufactured homes within that city. See our previous reports, “Bryan, Texas Planning and Zoning Proposes Ban on Manufactured Homes in City” followed by, “Bryan, Texas City Council Approves Ban on Manufactured Homes Despite Citizen Protests”
Our kudos to Greg Casar and fellow City Council members for your perseverance and commitment to Austin’s vulnerable mobile home residents.