Increase or decrease in manufactured homes by county between 2009 and 2018 (Source: HAC Rural Research Brief)

More than half of all manufactured homes are located in rural areas around the country and these types of structures make up 13% of all occupied homes in rural and small-town communities, according to the Housing Assistance Council.

The U.S. is experiencing a housing crisis, with not enough homes to fill the need, particularly in rural areas.  

Manufactured housing is one possible solution to the issue. But it leaves residents in a unique position: they often own the home but not the land it sits on. 

Now, a new law passed in Colorado seeks to make it easier for residents of manufactured homes or mobile home parks to purchase the parks. It’s a move that advocates say has been years in the making and they hope other states will follow suit. 

Signed by Governor Jared Polis, the law establishes a $35 million loan fund for mobile home parks. Another law creates a Fair Housing Unit to pursue civil and criminal penalties for breaking housing laws.

“This is kind of the culmination of a lot of work, which is good to see,” said Doug Ryan, vice president of Policy and Applied Research at Prosperity Now, in an interview with the Daily Yonder. “But it also suggests to other states and other activists that don’t have such robust laws or funding sources that this isn’t easy, even though everybody understands and talks about the housing crisis in cities and suburbia and rural America. It’s not easy to get to this point.”

Other states are taking note, Ryan said. And one example is Montana, where there are tax incentives that encourage the purchase of parks by residents and nonprofits.

“It’s not the exact same law that Colorado has put on the books, but it’s similar – the idea is similar in the sense of preservation of these parks, which is so important,” he added. 

According to the Housing Assistance Council, there are approximately 6.7 million occupied manufactured homes in the U.S., comprising about 6% of the nation’s housing stock. More than half are located in the South. 

One issue residents are increasingly facing is competing with private capital and private investment, said Lance George, director of Research and Information at the Housing Assistance Council, in an interview with the Daily Yonder.  

“Sometimes it’s very hard for a group of low-income homeowner residents who are working hard every day to then go out and raise multimillion dollar in capital to buy the unit,” he said, adding that the Housing Assistance Council does provide some financing to help residents buy their own communities. “We invest and make loans to these entities.”

As more local ownership turns to outside ownership, lot rents are increasing, he said. 

“There’s no doubt that you can start to hear it from some of the residents,” George said. “Even if the park is maintained, some of the rent increases. That’s where you start to see the lot rent increases. They say ‘a mom and pop owned this for 30 years, and now this large firm that’s located in New York or Chicago has come in and purchased it.’ They don’t know anybody. They don’t know what the community is like. And then they start to jack up the rents 25% every year.”

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