Housing crisis: Proposal would help preserve California mobile home parks
A new legislative proposal, crafted amid a brutal housing crisis in the Bay Area and beyond, would help ward off sales and replacements of mobile home parks that are being eyed as redevelopment sites.
“Every day, manufactured housing and mobile home communities are threatened by redevelopment contractors, aggressive investors, and greedy landlords,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, a Bay Area Democrat who is a primary author of the bill that was introduced Tuesday in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The legislation is designed to keep manufactured and mobile home communities affordable for their residents by directing a key federal agency to provide assistance for the acquisition and preservation of the communities.
Last week, residents of the 723-unit Westwinds Mobile Home Park in north San Jose learned they could face eviction by August 2022.
Westwinds is located near the interchange of State Route 237 and Zanker Road, a choice section of Silicon Valley that is seeing the development of gleaming new tech offices and modern housing projects. But no redevelopment plan has been submitted for the park.
The bill would direct the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department to create a grant program to help purchase and preserve manufactured housing and mobile home communities.
HUD would also take steps to ensure the owner of a mobile home park obtains a fair price in the sale of a complex.
The bill is designed to be a step towards leveling the playing field by providing some equity to make it easier for a mobile home community to come up with the funds for a down payment, according to Julia Albertson, press secretary for Khanna, whose district includes parts of Alameda County and Santa Clara County.
“It is time for the federal government to step in and commit to preserving manufactured housing alongside the tremendous work of nonprofits and resident groups,” Khanna said.
It wasn’t clear, though, how much of a financial punch might be provided by grants to mobile home residents as a way to ward off the redevelopment of their manufacturing home communities.
Some Silicon Valley mobile home parks were bought during 2019 for considerably more than the $1 million envisioned in the legislation.
Plaza del Rey, an 800-unit mobile home community in Sunnyvale, was bought in August by Chicago-based Hometown America Communities. The price tag for that deal: $237.4 million.
Sunshadow, a 121-unit mobile home complex in San Jose, was bought in a $12.25 million deal by a company headed by legendary Chicago-based realty investor and developer Sam Zell.
In the Plaza del Rey and Sunshadow situations, both properties may continue operating as mobile home parks on a long-term basis.
Nevertheless, the prices that the buyers paid in the respective transactions provide an indication of what might be needed financially to keep a property as a mobile home park.
“This level of preservation will be a low-cost, effective tool to help ensure every family in Silicon Valley can become homeowners,” Khanna said.