Beginning in December, a new Pennsylvania law:
… Requires manufactured home community owners to inform residents within 60 days of any decision to close; gives them at least six months, not 30 days, to leave once the closure notice is given; pays them up to $4,000 in relocation expenses for a single home and $6,000 for a multi-section one; and pays at least $2,500 or the home’s appraised value, whichever is greater, for those unwilling or unable to relocate.
Jim Deegan of The Express-Times traces the six-year battle to get that law passed. He also recounts the sad-but-familiar saga of the former Barbosa Mobile Home Park in Bethlehem, Pa.:
[In 2006] the six-acre parcel off Freemansburg Avenue was being sold to a developer with plans to build 50 condominiums in 10 buildings.
… Some of the Barbosa residents had lived decades there, with everything they owned tucked between the prefab walls of a 60-foot-long trailer. Under previous rules, they had 30 days to vacate and no required help in paying to move.
… The Barbosa people weren’t left completely helpless. Working with the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, developer Ashley Development Corp., which presented the condo plans, put up $250,000 in relocation assistance. The company didn’t have to do that but did.
… Six years after the condo plans went public, the tract has no trailers. It doesn’t have condominiums either. Weeds and mounds of dirt cover the property now — one of many Ashley Development projects that petered out.
There’s gotta be a better way.
There is a better way: Resident-owned communities.
Pennsylvania’s new law provides important protections to mitigate the upheaval and loss that can occur at any time for people who own their homes but not the land beneath them, but such protections do nothing to alter the dynamic of that untenable, unsustainable and often exploitative situation. We can try to make that situation more humane with legislation like this law and tougher regulations, but the better solution for all involved is to change the underlying (literally) and fundamental (literally) dynamic.
People need to own the land beneath their homes.