Jul 26, 2022 - News

Denver leaders look to protect mobile home residents

A mobile home park in Colorado. Photo: RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver's mobile home park residents could soon see more protections from displacement spurred by rising rent and redevelopment.

Why it matters: Denver is one of the least affordable metro areas in the U.S., and homelessness persists.

  • Mobile homes make homeownership more attainable, and remain the largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing nationwide.

Driving the news: Denver council members are drafting a proposal that would put a moratorium on mobile home park development citywide, council president Jamie Torres said at a committee meeting Monday.

  • The measure β€” modeled after Aurora's 10-month freeze in 2018, and backed by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock's administration β€” is intended to provide housing security while local leaders craft permanent protective policies for the city's five mobile home parks, which total about 300 units.

The big picture: Mobile home parks are lucrative businesses, and corporations are snapping up mom-and-pop-owned lots across the country.

  • Because most mobile home residents solely own their dwelling unit and not the land beneath it, they have little say over what happens to the property's value or future.
  • Worse, steep costs and restrictive city laws prevent many from being able to move their mobile homes, forcing them to leave them behind altogether.

Zoom in: In Denver, city zoning prohibits owners of units in mobile home parks from replacing their old homes with newer, safer ones.

  • Those restrictions also prevent residents from procuring financing to purchase the parks where their units are when sites are posted for sale.

Zoom out: Denver leaders' moves come on the heels of Colorado Democratic lawmakers, who have taken steps over the last three years to give more protection to mobile home park tenants.

  • Yes, but: Even with increased safeguards, some parks have fallen through the cracks, and many affordable housing advocates are calling for more protection.

What's next: Denver council members plan to introduce an ordinance for the moratorium later this summer, Torres said.

  • In early 2023, city leaders are also planning to revise the zoning code to better protect mobile home tenants.
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