We just know it by a dirty name. .....................
"Trailer Park" Mobile Home park"
To move into Pismodise you must meet four conditions: Be 55 or older, keep your dog under 20 pounds, be present when guests stay at your home, and be comfortable with what most Americans consider a very small house. “If you need more than 800 square feet I can’t help you,” says Louise with a shrug. There seems to be some leeway on the dog’s weight. The unofficial rules are no less definite: If you are attending the late-afternoon cocktail session on the porch of Space 329, bring your own can, bottle, or box to drink. If you are fighting with other residents, you still have to greet them when you run into them. Make your peace with the word “trailer trash.”
“I have very wealthy people here. They think it’s the coolest thing there is.”No one in California aspires to be old or to live in a trailer, but we need to be more open to the possibilities inherent in both. Every day since January 1, 2011, some 10,000 American baby boomers have retired, and that will continue until 2030, when people over 65 will make up 19 percent of the population (up from 13 percent today). Old is the new boom and it is changing the culture and the conversation. (Have you seen all the sexy talk in Betty White’s reality show?) In Washington, D.C., anxiety about the decreasing proportion of workers to retirees underlies the frenzied discussion of “entitlement reform.”
Baby boomers aren’t going to retire the way their parents did. They are poorer and more likely to live alone. They can’t depend on pensions, and the real-estate bubble destroyed almost 50 percent of their wealth. Today one in six seniors lives in poverty, and that proportion is rising; the generation of Americans now facing retirement is so financially ill prepared that half of them have less than $10,000 in the bank. The coming swell of retirees will strain our current system to its limits—in terms of not only health care, but also incidental things like road signs, which are hard for drivers over 65 to read in a majority of American cities and towns.
Emily Greenfield, an assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Social Work, who researchers elder-care networks, says a change is occurring under our feet, whether we see it or not: “Baby boomers have critical mass—they’re covertly revolutionizing society again” as they retire.
One of the biggest questions facing the nation with regard to aging boomers is: Where are they going to live? The options amount to a tangle of euphemisms and politically correct titles: independent living, nursing homes, aging-in-place, naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs), retirement village, memory-care units, age-restricted communities. All this complexity disguises a simple fact about money, happiness, and aging: Seniors who can live on their own cost the country relatively little—they even contribute to the economy. But those who move into nursing homes start to run up a significant tab—starting at $52,000 a year. People who are isolated and lonely end up in nursing homes sooner. Hence, finding ways to keep people living on their own, socially engaged, healthy, happy, and out of care isn’t just a personal or family goal—it’s a national priority. Among seniors’ living options, there is one we overlook: mobile homes. Time-tested, inhabited by no fewer than three million seniors already, but notoriously underloved, manufactured-homes can provide organic communities and a lifestyle that is healthy, affordable, and green, and not incidentally, fun. But in order to really see their charms, we need to change a mix of bad policies and prejudice.
they’re considered havens of crime, perches for transients; they’re flimsy rusting structures, dangerous during disasters—”blight” that brings down neighborhood property values. Legally and financially, manufactured homes have a second-class existence. They are not treated as real estate, but as chattel or personal property. Owners don’t get the same rights or financial benefits as do other homeowners. For this reason, sociologists have described trailer parks as “quasi-homelessness” and “a kind of serfdom.” Among the few recent pieces of research about parks is a paper describing the strategies residents use to “manage” the “stigma” of living in a trailer park. Included: dressing well, not telling people where they live, and disparaging other trailer parks as worse than theirs. We all have an ugly prejudice when it comes to the trailer park. “Trailer trash jokes are still acceptable in polite circles where other prejudicial humor wouldn’t be considered funny,” says Paul Bradley, the president of New Hampshire’s ROC USA, a non-profit that helps residents buy their parks and turn them into co-ops.
This prejudice prevents us from seeing a modest but otherwise pleasant house. Travel-trailers evolved into mobile homes, which eventually lost their wheels and became manufactured housing. By any name, they are the largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing in the country. There are seven million manufactured homes housing 18 million people. In some counties they make up 60 percent of dwellings. Approximately one out of every 12 Floridians lives in a manufactured home. Units built since 1976, when the Department of Housing and Urban Development started regulating their construction, can last as long as site-built homes when they’re well built and maintained. Yet they cost far less: $41 per square foot versus $85 per square foot and up. At least one study, from the University of Illinois-Chicago, on trailer parks in Omaha, Nebraska, found that crime rates in mobile-home parks are the same as the rest of the community; the parks do not cause crime nearby; and that the parks appear to depress crime levels because residents own their homes. In one survey, nine out of 10 owners of manufactured homes said they were satisfied with their dwellings. They’ve found a housing option that suited their budget and needs.
Like a number of trailer parks, Pismo Dunes started as a camper park in the 1970s. Some of those campers stayed in place, and concrete blocks surrounded their wheels as they became layered with porches, awnings, sunrooms, and carports. Some have been replaced with new factory-built homes that resemble townhouses—but still have wheels hidden underneath, because Pismo Dunes is still technically an RV park. Though the home have changed dramatically from the trailers they once were, the business model has not: Residents own their homes but not the land under them. If you want to buy here you can go through Louise (who has a license to sell RVs) or buy directly from the owner, but you can’t buy or sell using a realtor. Louise is advertising units that start at $6,500 (for an old camper) to $185,000 (for a nearly new, splashy vinyl-sided Chariot Eagle one-bedroom manufactured house with a loft). Everyone also pays rent to Louise’s employer, the park owner, of between $400 and $700 a month, depending on the space and how long they’ve occupied it. The homes are taxed as automobiles, and fees are paid to the DMV. The park still has community showers and bathrooms, a remnant of earlier days, but most folks use the ones in their homes. Residents can hobnob at a clubhouse that hosts games every night and serves lunch twice a week.