Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mobile Home Parks are monopolies, plain and simple

Sadly, many mobile home parks in our state have been purchased by greedy corporate vipers who hide behind anonymous "LLC" names and claim they are complying with California Mobile Residency Law (MRL) when they provide only the corporation's name as the park owner, rather than human beings who are collecting the space rents for other human beings. Do the math...200 spaces times $? dollars per month...these folks are not the poor saps they claim to be who need to turn a higher return on their investments!!

They see the monopoly that was inadvertantly created when mobile home parks were originally established to offer a unique kind of housing community to seniors, low income families, and anyone who wanted an affordable second home. We, mobile home owners, are a unique population in that we purchased our homes, so we are home owners, but we rent the land under our homes. Initially this was seen as a good use of land and it brought a fair return on the landowner's investment into the infrastructure. A portion of the monthly space rents were to be used to maintain the infrastructure so the burden was not completely left to the land owner.

That was then...this is now. Now, home owners are expected to pay "passthrough" costs for infrastructure maintenance over and above their monthly rent. Also, to pay maximum rent amounts, based on the rental market where renters do NOT own their homes. Very often bullying management teams are put in place to discourage and leverage older, often helpless senior residents out of their older homes so the spaces can be filled with new, bigger double or triple wide homes that could sell for high dollars and surely demand much higher monthly space rent, leases and all. I have seen homes purchased by the LLC for as little as $1000 as frightened little old ladies and gents flee to safer havens with relatives or rest homes, then the home is refurbished & resold for a huge profit, or destroyed and replaced, leaving the original owner with virtually no equity value.

Now mobile home park owners want to eliminate rent control in the few counties and cities of California who established a ceiling on the amount of rent home owners can be charged in each space. As I said, do the math and you'll be shocked at the cream these investors are taking from our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, relatives, and poor families, as they continue to "cry poor" as if they need MORE, MORE, MORE profits. Sad, very sad.

There are a few of MOBILE HOME OWNER groups in California who try to stand up for their home owners rights. However, the money that the PARK OWNERS accrue from home owners outweighs the accrual of monthly group dues by billions of dollars, so Park Owners national and statewide lobbying group, Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association, puts plenty of money into blocking legislation that might assist mobile home owners in their plight.

All is not lost because, there seem to be a few politicians, mostly the new ones, who have not yet sold out to the big money interests. There are some bills that float in and out of the California State Legislature that actually have the interests of mobile home owners in mind. I remember that, as a society of human beings who cared about the other human beings we live with, we established some guidelines that required a certain percentage of housing in each county or city to be low cost. If our citizens and political representatives would look a bit closer, they might see mobile home parks as a place where senior citizens, people who need respite, and low income families could feel safe and live in an environment where they are not seen as faceless "cash cows".

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