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Manufactured Home Residents Face Heightened Hurricane Risks

Examining the unique risks faced by manufactured home residents, Yessenia Funes writes that these structures “represent a particular level of vulnerability due to who usually lives in them and how and where they’re built.” Manufactured homes (Funes calls out the misnomer “mobile homes”, indicating that less than 20% of these homes ever move) face acute vulnerabilities when it comes to hurricanes. 

“A number of factors makes this population vulnerable,” writes Funes, including the social stigma of “trailer parks,” the rampant poverty present in these communities, and language barriers. “For some families, recovery is never an option because while they own their homes, they rent the land their houses sit on. If the property owner of a mobile home park decides to close it or sell the land, residents are screwed,” yet “[m]obile homeowners are ineligible for much of what [federal assistance] is available post-disaster.” Yet “manufactured homes were not built to withstand hurricane-level winds and floods” until HUD mandated updated building standards “after Hurricane Andrew destroyed or damaged more than 10,000 manufactured homes in 1992.”

“But things don’t have to be this way,” says Funes. “Society should benefit from the affordability of these homes. Homeowners and their communities should benefit.” Andrew Rumbach, the director of education at Texas A&M University’s Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center, says “[o]n the one hand, mobile homes and mobile home parks are a terrific source of affordable housing, and they provide a type of housing affordability level that we’re not providing through other types of housing development. They’re absolutely essential within our housing system, and yet they’re also very vulnerable to hurricanes. And that’s a really troubling issue from a life and safety perspective.” 

Funes argues that mobile home residents deserve more rights and “legislation that protects them and appreciates the role mobile homes play in the U.S. housing market.”

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