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Evicted for Speculation

Adam R.'s picture

Posted February 6, 2009

At the end of the housing bubble, many Americans lost their homes when mobile home parks were cleared out to make room for speculative single-family site built real estate development.

The latest example is reported in Salt Lake City, where the Meadows Mobile Home Park in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, was cleared to make way for redevelopment.  The park had 150 slabs.  The developer intended to build 29 "mansions" on the land.

Delaware Manufactured Homeowners Association director Ed Speraw is quoted, making the oft-spoken point that "manufactured housing is the largest source of

unsubsidized affordable housing in America." This point is said so often because it is true.  While mobile homes only made up about 5.9 percent of housing starts at the peak of the bubble, they historically make up about 8 percent.

It is worth noting that the developer, Arbor Residential, was very fair by the norms of mobile home park evictions.  They offered the 150 residents approximately $700,000 in funds to help with moving.  That is well beyond the legal requirements.  The homes planned for Cottonwood Meadows would have been on 1/2 acres lots.

The developer built a model home, but has canceled the project because "nothing is selling."

The loss is really societal.  In Utah, about one in 25 homeowners will face foreclosure.  Affordable homes like the ones lost here are going to be much-needed.

This is not an isolated event.  The same thing has actually happened less than 10 miles from Durham (home of this blog) in Hillsborough, North Carolina.  The Town of Hillsborough (Orange County) approved a motion to rezone the Daniel Boone Mobile Home Park (pdf, part 7) in 2006 to make way for a redevelopment by American Asset Corporation.  The residents were forced out.  Now, the project has been withdrawn.