99% Invisible: Immobile Homes | KALW

99% Invisible: Immobile Homes

Aug 24, 2018

Mobile homes don’t get a lot of love in our culture, despite being a key source of affordable housing for the the country. Throughout the 1990s, 66% of new affordable housing built were mobile homes. Shirline, a divorcee with grown children, bought her manufactured home in 1994.  She was proud to be able to afford her own home, and thought she'd found the perfect spot to put it: Applewood, a small, quiet mobile home park in Midvale Utah. But there was a problem ... 

The same dynamic that made this housing situation affordable for Shirlene also left her vulnerable because the mobile home was hers, but the land underneath it wasn’t.  “Part of the paradox at the heart of manufactured housing,” explains Esther Sullivan, a sociologist at the University of Colorado Denver “is that it’s precisely the thing that makes it so affordable that also makes this a highly insecure form of housing.” She says that about a third of mobile homeowners live in parks like Applewood where they rent a plot of land for their home. She calls this arrangement halfway homeownership.