It’s a story heard too many times across the rapidly growing West: a trailer park owner wants to evict trailer residents to redevelop the property to serve a higher income clientele. Trailer park residents, who often live in old trailers unfit to me moved usually lose any investment they made in their tenuous property, have few options but to move on.
But given the lack of affordable housing in many Western states, some local governments are beginning to see trailer parks as a critical supply of affordable housing that their commuity can’t ‘afford’ to lose.
So in Salt Lake City, activists and elected officials took an unusal approach when they learned about the fate of a 25 unit trailer park — they bought it. After seven months of tedious negotiation, the Salt Lake Housing Authority persuaded a trailer park owner to sell his property to the county for $1.2 million, ensuring that the families in mostly fixed-income community would not have to relocate to make way for condominiums. The county purchased the Park Hill property with the help of a $700,000 loan from Fannie Mae and two deferred loans from the state and the county, each in the amount of $275,000.
Given the challenges of affordable housing across the Western U.S., it may be time for more local governments to adopt Salt Lake’s strategy.
(Note: Pitkin County, CO has already taken this approach with several of its trailer parks. They have also taken the innovative next step of enabling local residents to purchase their lots with a deed restriction to preserve affordability.)