How Different State Policies Affect Evicted Manufactured Homeowners

How Different State Policies Affect Evicted Manufactured Homeowners
Esther Sullivan
American Sociological Review
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Public-private partnerships delivering government assistance and unclear regulatory frameworks may worsen the trauma caused by eviction from manufactured housing, or mobile homes, according to Esther Sullivan. Manufactured housing is the most prevalent form of unsubsidized affordable housing in the United States, but for a third of all manufactured housing, this affordability is created through land-lease arrangements in mobile home parks, where the residents own their homes, but rent the land on which they are built. These land-lease arrangements allow residents to be evicted at their own expense within at least 30 days of receiving notice of forced relocation. The author examined housing insecurity within manufactured housing, comparing the effects of policies and supports for evicted residents of mobile home parks in Florida and Texas. Sullivan conducted an ethnographic study in these states, living in and being evicted from closing trailer parks for two years and interviewing her neighbors. The author chose these states because of their differing policies toward evicted manufactured housing owners. Florida has a protective approach that administers state-assistance funds through public-private partnerships, while Texas employs a hands-off approach. Sullivan considers the policy implications of her qualitative findings.

Key findings

  • Evictions caused disruptions and resulted in worse living conditions for residents in both states, demonstrating how the affordability of their mobile homes helped them live on limited and fixed incomes.
  • Mobile home park residents evicted in Texas experienced a costly and disruptive relocation process because of the state’s laissez-faire state assistance, but this disruption was shortened compared with counterparts in Florida.
  • Policies in Florida that intended to alleviate the negative effects of eviction produced a more prolonged and confusing relocation process instead, leaving residents feeling bewildered, helpless, and reliant on private actors that profited on their eviction.

Editor's Note: The second-to-last sentence describing the study was updated on June 9, 2017 to clarify that Florida administers state-assistance funds through public-private partnerships.