Rents in Fresno have risen up to 20% since last year, and many tenants
have moved to Trails End Mobile Home Park for more affordable housing.
Other tenants have lived in the
mobile home park for their entire lives, which enables them to run small businesses and
pursue arts and education. These tenants are representative of the more
than 20 million people who live in mobile homes across the United States.
As more and more Americans move into mobile homes,
investors are turning their attention toward mobile home parks, causing the rent to go up (although not as sharply as the rent in apartments
and single-family homes).
When a new investor swept into Trails End, however, the tenants had other
plans. According to
“The residents at Trails End have decided to organize an effort to purchase
the park themselves in the form of a cooperative.”
A Note About Housing Cooperatives
Housing cooperatives, also called co-ops are a growing housing model and
form of homeownership
that is becoming especially popular in mobile home parks, as residents try to resist corporate ownership – and the rule changes
and added expenses that come with it.
Residents in a mobile home cooperative not only own their mobile homes
but also the land they live on. This empowers them to maintain their affordable
housing, their communities, and their way of life.
What Inspired Trails End Residents to Form a Cooperative?
Trouble at Trails End inspired the residents to form a housing cooperative
instead of continuing to suffer at the hands of park owners.
In 2021, the park caught fire twice, destroying 5 homes, hospitalizing
one person, and killing another. The park was also filled with uncollected
trash, and roads within the park were in desperate need of repaving. Before
the fires, The California Department of Housing and Community Development
had even revoked the park’s permit.
Although Fresno city officials ordered the trash to be cleaned up and the
roads to be repaved, residents are still grappling with other issues.
Electrical issues, for example, have put residents at risk – many
of whom have children and older people living with them.
State regulators have not kept up with mobile home park inspections, and investors often
present themselves as shiny solutions. One potential investor in Trails
End even offered to clean up the mobile home park before making an offer.
During the cleanup, the cleaning company discovered mobile homes without
hot water, residents washing dishes in the tub, exposed electrical wiring,
and a resident selling drugs. About 20 large bins of trash were removed
from the premises, and cleaning crews requested an armed security guard
to keep them safe onsite.
Trails End Fiasco Indicative of a Bigger Problem
Facing pressure, the city offered to purchase the park, and residents are
considering their offer. Still, renters across Fresno – and California
– are disappointed by the lack of oversight in the overall housing
market. Prices are continuing to rise, and conditions are continuing to
get worse, with mobile home parks serving as the most extreme example.
Large investors are not solving any of California’s most pressing
housing problems, and
many of them are making the situation worse.
As one resident points out:
“It doesn’t matter how nice the park is and how clean it is and how
safe it is if nobody can live there because it’s too expensive.”
All California residents living in crumbling rentals while looking up at
“luxury” condominiums and apartment complexes they cannot
afford should understand this sentiment.
The Present and Future of Trails End
Right now, tenants in Trails End are paying $700 to $900 to rent space
in a dangerous, decrepit mobile home park (though rent has been paused
until health and safety violations are corrected). By owning and operating
the space themselves, they could save money, improve conditions, and continue
to invest in their community.
Of course, in today’s housing market, residents’ primary concern
is what they will pay, and investors like to highlight the fact that residents
may not have experience owning and operating a mobile home park.
Unlike other tenants, however, mobile homeowners own their homes –
they just don’t own the property their homes reside on. Park residents
have put time, money, and love into their homes and their communities.
Little could make them up and leave, and Trails End residents want to
find a way to stay while making their situation better.
Investors’ suggestion that park residents will not be able to handle
their own community is offensive considering community leaders have already
organized about 2 dozen residents for nightly gatherings where they discuss
upcoming hearings. One community leader sees Trails End as her safe haven,
having fled from domestic abuse, and the other sees the mobile home park
as his embodiment of the American dream, having emigrated from Mexico
and made payments on his mobile home until he owned it outright.
Residents have grown gardenias, roses, guava, and lemon trees on their
front lawns. They don’t want to leave. They simply want to fight
back. They simply want to make their community better.
Community leaders are stepping up to help.
Your Friends in the Fight
Allen, Semelsberger & Kaelin LLP has been helping mobile home residents like you hold park owners accountable
for their wrongdoing. If you are facing unacceptable or unsafe conditions
in your mobile home park, do not wait for government intervention.
Instead, call us at (888) 998-2031 and tell us what you are up against. We can help you pursue the compensation you need to build a better future.
have also obtained court orders to repair and restore communities like
yours, so please do not hesitate to contact us today.