When you think of Boulder, Colorado, you might imagine the picturesque Rocky Mountains, winter sports, and outdoor recreation. More recently, however, the city has experienced intense growth and rapid outward expansion, leading to an increasingly exclusive housing market. As more and more cities across the country are confronted with a looming affordable housing crisis, resident displacement is of significant concern. Unlike many other municipalities facing similar a situation, Boulder’s Division of Housing has taken a much more proactive approach to addressing affordable housing issues and the needs of their low to moderate income residents, paying special attention to those residing in the city’s various manufactured housing communities, colloquially known as mobile home or trailer parks.
Boulder was the first city in Colorado, and possibly the first city in the country to establish specific zoning around mobile home parks, with local legislation dating as far back as 1985. Residents living in the city’s many manufactured housing communities were among the most vulnerable to the affordability crisis. While many mobile home residents do own their trailers, very few hold an ownership stake of the land on which they are located, providing very little security in the wake of any transfer of ownership. The City of Boulder was prudent to recognize mobile home parks as a community asset in combating displacement, enacting a variety of policies and programs to help insulate these communities from the effects of the market. From weatherization programs to community organizing and resident ownership advocacy at the state level, local government has remained committed to its goal of creating and maintaining sustainable affordable housing options throughout the city’s manufactured housing stock.
The City of Boulder’s Division of Housing has been a member of Grounded Solutions Network (and previously the National Community Land Trust Network) for three years, recently working in collaboration to release a report on the benefits of investing in manufacturing housing community infrastructure, linked below.
Crystal Launder of Boulder’s Division of Housing stated that she sees their membership as a two-way relationship, for coalition building and the spread of ideas, opportunities, and advocacy at various levels.
“People can reach out to us to learn, and we can reach out to learn from others.”
NPR recently ran a two-part story on issues facing manufactured housing communities, and the challenges of implementing a resident owned collective.
While resident ownership empowers communities from within, there remain scenarios where a shared-equity approach is a more feasible, sustainable model. Over past two years, Grounded Solutions Network has explored ways that municipalities, community land trust organizations and manufactured homeowners can work together to preserve manufactured housing communities. We are excited to share what we have learned through the two following reports:
Moving Beyond the Mobile Myth by Renia Ehrenfeucht is an introduction to manufactured housing, the role that it plays in our communities and what it takes to prioritize preservation over the long-term.
Promoting Infrastructure Maintenance in Manufactured Housing Communities by Wendy Sullivan, Karen Bauer and Beth Sorce is the first national scan of local policies, practices, and strategies for improving infrastructure in private, investor-owned manufactured housing communities.