Mobile Home Park Investor’s “Strategy Under The Radar” leaves Residents Vulnerable
The following contains excerpts from an OP/ED by JOANNE DEMICHELLE – Silver City, New Mexico, posted by Los Alamos Daily Post, referencing recently introduced New Mexico Senate Bill SB298, that addresses the “strategy under the radar” by providing solutions and opportunities for manufactured homeowners living in communities.
Recognizing Vulnerable Housing Situation
“There is an investment strategy hiding under the radar that has been proven time and time again to be one of the best opportunities for investors, especially in times of uncertainty.” – 52TEN-Mobile Home Park Investment Company.
The main reason Mobile Home Parks are hot investments is that Mobile Homes are not mobile. It can cost as much to relocate a manufactured home as it would to move a stick-built home. The terms “Mobile Homes” and “Mobile Home Parks falsely portray these homes and homeowners as portable.
Another reason these investment strategies are popular and able to hide “under the radar” is that mobile home parks are invisible. In New Mexico, manufactured homes and mobile homes make up 27 percent of the housing stock. The homeowners are primarily senior citizens, veterans, people with disabilities, the working poor, and people of color – all people who are mostly not seen or appreciated in our society.
Investors buy these parks solely to turn a profit. They sometimes close the park and change the land use or they increase rents, sometimes more than double, and then acquire the abandoned homes of people who could not afford to stay. As a result, people lose their homes – their most significant investment – and their communities/support system.
Sara Terry, the award-winning writer and producer of A Decent Home, a documentary film about the people affected by this trend, asks, “When housing on the lowest rung of the American Dream is being devoured by the wealthiest of the wealthy, whose dreams are we serving?” In the documentary see what Sara Terry saw. “Time and time again, as I film in these parks, I meet compassionate, eloquent people who cherish values of community and generosity, values which seem to have been lost in an aggressive materialistic, me-first society.”
Manufactured Homes are built in factories and commonly delivered and set-up on land in a community where the homeowner leases a designated space from the landowner. However, unlike other land-lease situations, the security of a long term lease is not available. Instead, many leases are month-to-month. Leaving these homeowners vulnerable to the whims of the investors who, all too often, treat people’s homes and their communities like commodities even, or especially, “in times of uncertainty.”
Where else can an investor make a poor investment and raise rents until it becomes an excellent investment? Because the homeowners cannot move their homes and legal protections do not currently exist, profit is guaranteed.
The compounded tragedy of this situation is the tremendous need for affordable housing in New Mexico and a growing demand for accessible homes for our aging population to remain independent and socially active.
New Mexico Senate Bill 298 is an important first step