Preserving Manufactured Home Communities
PAS Memo — September-October 2020
By Crystal Launder
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The first mobile home parks were established in the United States in the 1930s, and in the 1970s annual sales of manufactured housing reached a peak of more than half a million. Though new sales have fallen to less than 100,000 today, these factory-built, towable housing structures remain an important source of affordable housing for residents throughout the country.
There are approximately 45,000 manufactured home communities (MHCs) in the United States today. Many of these MHCs are threatened by consolidation in park ownership and pad rent increases, infrastructure disinvestment and deterioration, natural hazards such as floods and hurricanes — and conversion of parks to new upmarket development due to local growth and rising land values. What can planners do to preserve and improve these longstanding communities and protect residents from displacement and declining conditions? The City of Boulder, Colorado, has been one of the first in the country to tackle this issue, adopting a suite of policies, plans, regulations, and programs to protect and improve its MHCs for the residents who call them home.
This PAS Memo provides an overview of mobile and manufactured housing, including the value it offers residents and the broader community and the risks it is subject to, and it examines the various solutions for its preservation that have been pursued in Boulder and elsewhere.
About the Author
Crystal Launder works for the City of Boulder’s Department of Housing and Human Services as a housing planner. Her work focuses on housing policy, most recently concentrating on manufactured housing issues. She is the project manager for the Ponderosa Community Stabilization Project, which seeks to stabilize a manufactured home community with failing infrastructure while minimizing displacement. She also helped develop the city’s first Manufactured Housing Strategy and is overseeing implementation of its Action Plan. Launder holds an undergraduate degree in sociology and psychology from Middlebury College and a Master of Regional Planning degree from Cornell University.