Can’t afford to stay or leave: Local mobile home owners’ dilemma

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 7:31 PM PDT
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SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO) -In many ways, Jeanneil Marzan is a typical resident of her seniors-only mobile home park in Sparks.

She’s owned her manufactured home for 10 years, and for all those years she’s shouldered the responsibilities of any homeowner. Her home and others nearby are well kept.

Although she owns and maintains the structure, someone else owns the ground it sits on and her landlord has just changed. In December, the park was bought by an investment group, the Carlisle Corporation.

They’ve raised the rent for new residents. She pays $790 a month. Someone moving in across the street would pay just over a thousand, but there are no guarantees.

“It would stand to reason that it’s coming to us at some time,” she says of the increased rate.

There’s a reason for her pessimism. The same thing has happened to renters throughout the community. Our affordable housing crisis presented an opportunity for outside investors who’ve done the same thing, pricing many out of their homes.

But there’s a difference here and it’s impacting some of the most vulnerable. For most of us lucky enough to achieve the American dream, most of our personal wealth is tied up in our home. It’s our nest egg. Its worth is our future.

A big hike in the space rent has a very direct effect on the value of that nest egg. Higher space rent diminished the salability of the homes.

“It would be as if your mortgage company called and said ‘Hey guess what? We’re raising your mortgage payment today from 27 to 74 percent,” says mobile home dealer Todd Andersen of White Knight Homes of Nevada. “It would be breathtaking.”

So, they are tied to a home they own and can’t move, facing added expense if they stay, leaving with a fraction of its worth if they choose to move on. “So, if I want to sell my house for probably half what I should get for it, then where do I go?” asks Marzan. “What else is affordable here that we could get into?”

At the moment, their only lifeline is a bill backers are trying to push through the legislature in this session’s remaining days. SB 275 would put a cap on annual space rent increases tied to the inflation rate. It has passed in the Senate and is awaiting a hearing in the Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee.