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This story is a part of the CBJ’s Newsmakers edition. This year-end wrap-up from the staff of the Corridor Business Journal is a compilation of the year’s most noteworthy articles and projects, as told through stories that appeared in the bi-weekly issues of the CBJ. This story was originally published in Feb. 2022.
Candi Evans bought her mobile home with her husband in 1998. The two, hoping to put roots down for years to come, built a family room addition — primarily by themselves with help from a contractor — where they did the installation, woodworking, sanding and staining. Her husband died in 2002. Ms. Evans worked until she was 70 to ensure she was debt-free and didn’t have to “be a burden on anybody.” Then, finally able to retire on a fixed income, she stopped working in January 2019. By the end of March 2019, she received a notice on her door: Golf View Mobile Home Park (MHP) had sold to Utah-based Havenpark Communities just a few weeks prior and raised rent by 61%. Havenpark is one of many private equity companies following a proven business model with a simple playbook — buy mobile home (or manufactured housing) parks for a premium from mom-and-pop owners. Kevin Borden, executive director of MHAction, says they then increase the rent to unprecedented levels, collect punitive fees, separate utilities like garbage, sewer and water from lot rent and evict residents who cannot keep up. This increases the value of the land, allowing ambitious MHP owners to bank the passive income or invest it in a nearby MHP elsewhere. Like most mobile home residents, Ms. Evans owns her home but not the land underneath, leaving her financial investment susceptible to outside interests — and skyrocketing rent prices — that are out of her control. Ms. Evans reached out to other homeowners, advocate groups and anyone who would listen. But for several years, state legislation that included rent justification for lot price increases, longer notice times and good-cause evictions stalled and eventually fizzled out despite bipartisan support and constant pressure from mobile homeowners.