People who live in trailer parks receive a double whammy. They are looked down upon by others for being poor because they cannot afford to live in a ‘real’ house, and their homes also tend to be highly vulnerable to destruction by tornados, hurricanes, and floods. But these trailer parks enable people with low income to have their own homes. They can also be the centers of close and supportive communities, as much as or even more so than any neighborhood that has fixed homes. The close proximity of the trailers to one another and the need and easy ability of the inhabitants to spend more time outside their small homes lends itself to people getting to know their neighbors better than if they lived in city apartments or suburban lots with their enclosed yards.
This article by Sara Terry and the accompanying video looks at life in these parks.
All too often, they’re the butt of jokes and stereotypes — mobile home parks and the “trailer trash” who live in them.
But the 50,000 parks that are spread across the United States deserve a lot more respect than that. Home to some 20 million people — 6 percent of Americans — they are the nation’s largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing, offering a shot at the American dream to people who can’t afford a traditional home.
Historically, trailer parks have been mom-and-pop operations that have turned a tidy profit through lot rentals paid by every tenant each month. People who live in mobile home parks generally own their homes, but not the land they live on, and pay monthly lot rental fees to a park owner — fees that vary widely depending on location, but can be around $700 to $800 in urban areas. Affordable housing activists have helped some residents — like the residents of Birch and Baker in Boscawen, New Hampshire — featured in the video above — buy their parks and own them as co-ops, to free them from ever-rising rents.
But unfortunately big business interest are seeing trailer parks as lucrative investments and the increase in monopolies moving in and displacing the mom-and-pop owners, resulting in rises in rents that may make them also unaffordable for low-income people. This is a form of gentrification that has not received as much attention as that occurring in cities, where low-income people get priced out of areas that they have long occupied as soon as developers see potential in them to make them more upscale and attract higher rent paying tenants.