A positive, but partial, step for manufactured homes in Pennsylvania

A positive, but partial, step for manufactured homes in Pennsylvania October 31, 2012

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.

In 2006, 50 families were displaced when the land beneath their homes was sold. Six years later, the lot sits empty. (Express-Times photograph)

… 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.

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  • Robyrt

    Spot on. The key problem is that the laws were written assuming these dwellings are true mobile homes that can be moved at will, while the actual construction assumes they are stable and immobile. If you are tied to a piece of land, you should have a stake in it. If you are living out of a Winnebago, you don’t need six months’ notice (which is a LOT of notice) and $4000 in relocation assistance.

  • Victor

    (((People need to own the land beneath their homes.)))

    So true Fred! I recall in the early 70’s when we bought our first home and there was about fifty trailors in that park which was  just a vacant lot away from U>S (usual sinners)  in our city. They were forced to move and there was nothing I could do  to help even though some were our friends and……………….

    Hey Victor! Ya better let U>S finish this story cause truth be known, you’re a little preju dice cause if ya remember, you tried to take advantage of the situation but  U>S (usual saving) gods would not let ya get away with “IT”. Remember you had just increased your mortgage at the bank and when you found out about the vacant LOT, you tried to buy “IT” and long story short, we spoiled “IT” for ya in the late eighties. Anyway you used your Real Estate Esperience and conned the builder to buy your old house at almost  more than three time “IT’s” value so there ya got “IT” NOW!

    “I’M” sorry sinner vic! How can I ever make “IT” UP to you?

    Tell ya what Victor! We’re not blind and we saw last night that your parking lot had been moved cause we’ve been helping ya park for years NOW!  Ah yes Victor! You kept making a joke out of “IT” to your wife and your grand son who has C.F. “Christ First”. Butt listen Victor, we know that some of our pass 92% cells have been using our time machine to come back home to Roast, I mean  roost. Longer story short, NOW! Don’t  be telling anybody about “IT” because they’re going to think that you’re going crazy again!


    COME ON VICTOR! Be nice! Don’t be like that! OK! we agree with ya that the alien godly maggets are wrong and anything that has been disposed of into Victor reality trone can no longer be saved at far as your so called “Jesus” butt is concerned,  butt why can’t we climb the stairway to heaven with your angels Victor?

    Nice try sinner vic! That’s a good scare! All me, myself and i can say to that story is:

    “Happy Halloween!”:)


  • Random_Lurker

     Is this a sock puppet now?

  • Magic_Cracker

    I was wondering the same thing — though this be madness, yet there is method in it.

  • AnonymousSam

    In other news,  Wells Fargo has carried through with their threat to evict Linda Rife from her home, despite the fact–which was upheld by a judge–that since she doesn’t even have a mortgage through Wells Fargo, this is completely illegal.

  • (>_<) Is there an organization like El Barzon in Mexico which will rush people to her house to physically prevent the eviction?


  • EllieMurasaki

    I’d expect the nearest Occupy group to be on it. This is the sort of thing they’ve been all over before. Trouble is I don’t know if there are any Occupy groups still extant. If not Occupy, the local Green Party? Jill Stein went and got herself arrested again and I don’t know if she’s out yet, but one of her arrests this campaign season was in protest of foreclosures, so.

  • Lori

    Occupy groups definitely still exist. I’m sort of surprised they haven’t been contacted/gotten on this. Lord knows the OCSD has a well-deserved rep for this sort of crap.

    For those not familiar with the area, coastal Orange County is rich and white*, while inland OC is middle class-to-dirt poor and has lots of brown folks (mostly Mexican, but there’s also a large Vietnamese population and some other significant populations of not-white people). Guess who local law enforcement serves and who gets arrested for DWB** and other assorted crap? You get 3 guesses and the first 2 don’t count.

    *See for example:    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coto_de_Caza,_California

    ** Driving While Brown

  • AnonymousSam

    No offense to them–I wholeheartedly support their efforts–but forget the Occupy groups, why the hell is this being carried out by the police is what I want to know. As far as I’m concerned, police officers have engaged in armed robbery here. They threatened a helpless person with a gun, flaunted defiance of the law and aided a criminal organization in committing an act of blatant theft.

    And she has to resort to a petition to ask Wells Fargo to not break the law because of this.

    This is when we know that the system has completely and utterly failed. When a bank might decide that they’re going to take your stuff, and they can ask law enforcement to take it from you on their behalf, and the law enforcement will ignore a posted notice of the law itself and threaten you with bodily injury and perhaps even death if you fail to consent to the bank taking your stuff… and this is to be considered the bank’s prerogative and be left at that.

  • Lori


    why the hell is this being carried out by the police is what I want to know  

    Wells Fargo = established power and rich people who are mostly white

    The homeowner = a poor, brown woman

    I have no doubt that there are some wonderful people working for the OCSD, but their good person to asshole ratio is not what it should be. Far too often they act as the servants of power and maintainers of the status quo, rather than as upholders of the law. (Sadly not an uncommon situation. See NYC’s “stop & frisk” BS)


    and this is to be considered the bank’s prerogative and be left at that.   

    I doubt it will be left at that, but it sounds like the homeowner is unlikely to live long enough to see it resolved. I imagine Wells Fargo is counting on that.

    BofA used to be the hands down winner of the annual Banking Evil-Off, but the last few years Wells Fargo has really stepped up it’s game. (My libertarian friend pulled his accounts from Wells Fargo a few years ago because it’s business practices are “just nasty”. Talk about a red flag moment.)

  • Cathy W

    …and guess who bought my mortgage? Ugh.

  • So are you looking for work, or doing freelance now, Mr. Clark? ‘Cause I’m not sure why you aren’t yet at least a consultant or board member for one of the places like that which you linked.