Rent hikes hit mobile homes, one of last affordable options

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(NewsNation) — As skyrocketing rents trickle down to mobile home parks, Americans at the low end of the income rung are once again struggling to make ends meet.

Rent hikes are now pricing people out of one of the last remaining, affordable places to live.

Soaring costs are leaving tenants confused and asking the question: Where do they turn now?

“This shouldn’t be happening at all. And it’s happening a lot,” Jamie O’May, property manager at Desert Paradise Mobile Home Park in Las Vegas, told NewsNation affiliate KLAS.

America’s mobile homes are feeling the effects of a competitive housing market rife with surging home prices and rising rent, leaving residents with few options.

“I’m going to a shelter that’s specifically designed for me because I’m a cancer patient,” Desert Paradise resident Maggie Lunsford Brown told KLAS.

About 20 million Americans, about 6% of the population, live in manufactured homes, according to federal data.

Unlike traditional site-built homes, manufactured homes or mobile homes are built in a factory according to national standards and then transported to the site of use. They can be placed on land that is owned or
leased by the homeowner.

Demand for affordable housing, low supply, and an increase in corporate owners and developers have contributed to driving up costs.

“It’s getting tougher and tougher,” said mobile home resident Hayden Conover. “We have jobs and it’s just not enough anymore.”

Conover lives in a mobile home community just outside Dallas. Since January, he’s watched his lot rent go from $500 a month to $690.

“Yeah, I mean it’s changed everything,” Conover said. “I’ve tried to find new jobs, gotta make more money, cut back on certain things, not go out to eat as much.”

Those like Conover not only pay more in rent but also more for mobile homes themselves.

Census data shows during the pandemic, the average sales price of a manufactured home rose nearly 50%, from $82,900 to $123,200.

Just last month, Iowa lawmakers fought to give mobile home residents longer notice of rent increases or nonrenewals of leases. The governor signed those protections into law. However, it does not limit the frequency or amount of price hikes.

“I think it is a step in the right direction but I don’t think it is obviously a final step. But I think we can improve on it and work on it together,” said Iowa State Sen. Carrie Koelker.

In many cases, mobile homeowners are frustrated. They own the unit they live in, but don’t enjoy the perks of home ownership such as locked-in interest rates, tax breaks or appreciating home values.

And if your lot rent increases to a rate you can’t afford, moving these mobile homes can cost up to $15,000.

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