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Mobile Home Communities Essay

2642 words - 11 pages

In the United States, about half of mobile home communities are found in rural areas, because either urban zoning excludes them or the rural zoning and housing codes are more lax. A mobile home community differs fundamentally from other communities of place (those distinguished by distinct geographic boundaries), because it is the private property of a landowner who runs it as a profit-making enterprise. As private property, community governance is not democratic; those who own the land or those who manage the park for the owner make and enforce the rules by which residents must live. Yet, despite these limitations, mobile home communities are a popular choice for those with modest means, ...view middle of the document...

3 million units. By the 2000 census, those numbers had climbed to almost 8.8 million, or 7.6 percent of total U.S. housing units. Mobile homes and mobile home communities are usually in rural and sub-urban areas, in the South and West where climates are warmer. Of course, many mobile homes are not situated in communities. Rural areas in particular are characterized by individual mobile homes scattered alone or next to a "stick" house, typically owned by a relative who also owns the land. According to the industry, however, half of newly manufactured homes are placed on land owned by the homeowner or someone else.A mobile home provides instant housing with all the necessities. Manufactured or mobile homes, unlike most conventionally built homes, are built at factories and hauled to their sites by truck. Being factory assembled, a manufactured home is inexpensive, convenient, and, of course, theoretically mobile. By the 1960s, trailers had become larger, enjoyed more amenities, and were less mobile as a consequence. Nowadays, individual singlewide mobile homes are comparable in size to a small apartment (eight to fourteen feet wide, forty or more feet long); and multisectioned doublewide homes, created with two single units manufactured to be attached on-site as one unit, equal a modest house as large as 1,400 square feet. While originally made with wheels to allow for mobility, most units are now so large that once installed they are never moved. Moreover, manufacturers do not recommend moving a mobile home, and the costs are prohibitive.A mobile home community provides modest-income families with access to the American dream of owning a separate, stand-alone home in a small town. But mobile housing falls short of that dream, because residents tend not to own their home's land. Other solutions to the postwar affordable-housing demand, such as Levittown on Long Island, New York, never earned the stigma of mobile home communities, even though they were mass produced, with homes built on-site but on householder-owned land.TYPES OF COMMUNITIESThere are four types of mobile home communities: seasonal, rental, land lease, and cooperative. Seasonal communities are populated largely by retired people, for example, in states such as Arizona or Florida, where snowbird retirees from the Midwest, East, and Canada spend the cold months in the Sun Belt. Year after year, they rent in the same place for the winter and return home for the warmer season. Residents of these communities traverse a circular migration route on an annual basis in recreational vehicles or in trailers pulled by cars or trucks. In all Sun Belt states, some retiree communities house permanent residents.In rental mobile home communities, the landlord owns the land and the homes and rents both to tenants. This type of settlement perpetuates the negative stereotype of mobile home parks as transient places. Such communities, by virtue of social and economic realities, house a fair share of...

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