Time: Affordable housing is disappearing. These mobile home residents are fighting to protect theirs
Time, November 30, 2018: Affordable housing is disappearing. These mobile home residents are fighting to protect theirs.
Mobile homes represent the largest sector of non-subsidized affordable housing in the United States, home to 22 million Americans with a median annual income of less than $30,000.
But since the 2008 financial crisis, and as an aging generation of mom-and-pop park owners cashes out, a new breed of investors bent on raising rents to increase returns has bought up a growing share of the market. In July, Blackstone Group, the world’s largest private equity firm, bought a portfolio of 14 mobile home parks in California and Arizona for $172 million—not to redevelop, but to operate. It’s one sign, according to Jim Baker of the watchdog Private Equity Stakeholder Project, “that the industry is becoming a commodity.”
The Manufactured Housing Institute, a national trade organization, praises private investment in mobile home parks. “Investors are often better positioned to commit the necessary resources needed to maintain and upgrade a property,” a spokesperson said in a statement to TIME.
Frank Rolfe, a multi-millionaire investor and cofounder of Mobile Home Park University, defends the model. “We’re the only folks out there who provide unsubsidized affordable housing,” he says, “but we get criticized for trying to run the business as a business.”