For the last 20 years, I have lived and thrived in a mobile home community. I loved where I live — right up until Wall Street bought the park and threatened the well-being of myself, my neighbors, and my family.
Mobile homes are a vital source of affordable housing for around 3 million households across 45,000 communities in the United States. These households have a median income of about $36,000 and include vulnerable populations like seniors, the disabled, and immigrants.
Our mobile home community was the sort of place where every neighbor helped everybody. If my grass wasn’t cut, the neighbor across the street would cut it. If their grass didn’t get cut that week, I would take care of it. That’s just how we were.
But things started to get harder in 2012, when RHP Properties — a corporation entwined with Brookfield Asset Management, a Toronto-based private equity firm — took ownership of our mobile home community in Spring Valley, New York.
Mobile home communities exist in part to give disadvantaged, lower income, or retired people like me the opportunity to have their own space. It’s your own yard, with your own driveway.
But RHP properties saw only a profit opportunity. Soon after they took over, the money we were required to pay to have our home in the community, called the land fee or lot rent, started going up.
Way up. My land fee alone reached nearly $1,400. But that wasn’t all.