The Problem...property rights versus displacement of human
to 25 percent or more of the population of the Town of Davie lives
in mobile homes. That is up to 23,000 individuals, including
families with young children. As property values have increased over
the past several years, mobile home lot owners have sought to
redevelop their properties to make room for more expensive projects,
but in order to do so, they must evict mobile home residents. Some
of these residents are elderly, others are handicapped, and many are
not able to afford housing other than their current arrangements.
The few who can otherwise afford to move are unable to do so due to
high property taxes, oppressive windstorm and homeowner insurance
costs and the cost of housing in South Florida, where the
average price of a house in Davie is almost $400,000. For most,
wages have not increased enough to allow people to catch up with
home value appreciation. Thousands simply have no where to go in South Florida once they are told
to leave their mobile home parks. Even more complicated is the fact
that moving a mobile home can cost up to $10,000. For many, their
mobile homes are too old to be moved properly.
who help comprise part of the economic back bone of our community is
unacceptable, yet this population loss is a clear and present
danger. According to the Miami Herald on February 25, 2007, a recent
Florida International University (FIU) study states Broward County
will need 90,000 additional homes by the year 2014. With that
overwhelming need, the threat of mobile home park elimination will
only exponentially increase the problem. Even if redeveloped mobile
home parks are made into apartments, the new development eliminates
what is already an affordable housing solution...existing mobile
The Town of Davie, on Wednesday, February 21,
2007, voted to place a moratorium to freeze mobile home park redevelopment
applications. The reprieve is scheduled to last one year, and may be
extended for another 6 months. This was responsible, and welcome,
action. However, according to the Sun-Sentinel, "Applications that have
already been submitted would still be processed." A 12-member Mobile
Home Task Force has been formed to study affordable housing
alternatives for those mobile home residents who face displacement.
The task force will work with FIU and Carras Consulting. Their efforts are designed to find a way to avoid creation of
"economic refugees," which is a very real threat for this segment of Davie's population. The problem is not unique to Davie, but faces
mobile home communities throughout the State of Florida. Mobile home
displacement is a local, state and federal issue of extreme urgency.
As the days pass, extreme stress is visited upon those who face the
loss of their home, and a place to live. For many, they may be
forced to give up their jobs in order to find a home elsewhere.
Park owners claim their property rights are being
violated. Residents characterize this as a human rights issue.
Pressure for answers is mounting, and the clock is ticking. There
are 31 mobile home communities in the Town, which house
approximately 7,400 units. More people live in mobile homes
in Davie than in any other municipality in Broward County. The
median rent for a mobile home in Davie is $400 a month; the median
rent in the Town is $1,342. We must not allow the months to pass
without a determined and thorough look at all options to alleviate
this problem. If solutions are not in place within the time
allotted, it may be too late to avoid the resulting damage caused by
irreparable displacement. The resulting economic impact of
eliminating mobile homes will be severe. The human consequences are
hard to imagine, but at a minimum, they will be extraordinarily
harsh. This threatened reality can be avoided, however, with
creative thinking, and concerted efforts from all aspects of
loss of skilled workers and its impact on Broward County because the
affordable housing they currently occupy, in the form of mobile
homes, is eliminated."
Some tools for solving the problem
The following ideas, used in concert with each
other, are suggested by this
author to help tackle this daunting problem:
- Seek serious infusion of ideas- The Mobile Home Task Force should seek input
from County, State and Federal Officials to work with local
leaders in finding solutions. No crisis of this proportion can
be fixed without cooperation within all levels of government.
- Traditional finance institutional
involvement- Banks and lending institutions need to be
actively involved in the problem solving process to provide low
interest loans to those who face displacement, or to help
finance ways to allow residents to purchase their communities.
- Corporate responsibility- Serious and meaningful corporate involvement
is key...this is not just a governmental problem, it is an
economic problem which needs the innovation of corporate
ingenuity and action. Programs modeled after Starbuck's campaign
to donate proceeds of certain books to worthy social causes
should be considered. Corporate partnership with local
government designed to help people stay in their homes makes
sound business sense.
- Explore employer-assisted housing-
Employers of mobile home dwellers who are threatened with
displacement from their community should explore innovative
compensation mechanisms to assist employees retain their homes.
As reported in the Sun-Sentinel on March 26, 2007,
Baptist Health South Florida is working on a housing program to
attract and keep employees. Without the employees who are forced
to move because there is no alternative to mobile home living,
business suffers. Just like the University of Miami and the Keys
Federal Credit Union, large employers need to add to the overall
solution of displacement and meet the affordable housing crisis.
Employers can consider loans to help purchase interests in
mobile home parks, rental assistance and other measures. Such
assistance can be the difference between an employee staying in
a mobile home (and keeping their job) or being forced out due to
lack of funds, if the park their home is located in is to be
purchased by the residents.
- Tax incentives- Our governmental leaders, from Town Hall to
the steps of Congress need to explore tax relief options for
mobile home owners who are caught in the displacement war. We
need to explore the possibility of tax credits for those who
donate to stop mobile home displacement.
- State and county bond initiatives- The State of Florida and Broward County
should consider issuance of bonds to assist mobile homeowners
purchase their parks. As local media reports migration away from
Broward County to other parts of Florida and other states, such
a loss of residents is an economic threat to the entirety of the
social and economic infrastructure of South Florida. These
conditions require proactive funding techniques. The State of
Ohio recently started a bond program to issue taxable municipal
bonds to help citizens fend off foreclosures. If Ohio can step
up to help its homeowners avert home loss, surely Florida and
Broward County can rise to the challenge of helping to preserve
affordable housing in the form of mobile homes.
- Local bond referendum- Town Council members need to explore
assistance by creating a bond referendum to help finance
solutions. We cannot lose thousands of residents within our
community without doing everything possible.
- Affordable Housing Trust Fund- Davie should look into it's own affordable
housing trust fund, fashioned after the program recently enacted
by the City of Hollywood, which seeks voluntary contributions by
developers. The monies would be used to study long-term
solutions to mobile home displacement and provide emergency
relief to affected residents under carefully designed criteria.
- Civic involvement and Socially Responsible
Investing- Community fund raisers need to be held to
support our neighbors. Every condominium and homeowner
association needs to get involved in protecting against
The Sun-Sentinel reported on March 25, 2007, that the
wealthiest property taxpayers pay taxes on less than one half of
their property tax value. This group of affluent property owners
should be targeted to volunteer contributions to help those in
other economic brackets keep their homes. Such contributions
could be tax deductible or entitle property tax owners to
designated tax credits set up to encourage such an effort.
Individuals and business entities should be encouraged to
participate in voluntary funding programs to help solve the
mobile home displacement crisis. Community investing should be
encouraged based upon independently audited programs designed to
sustain affordable housing.
concepts- Studies need to be conducted on the use of
microcredit techniques to solve this problem. Many elderly and
disabled mobile home residents are unable to work in regular
jobs, yet can offer their experience and talents to the
community as a way to repay financial aid. These individuals
offer an untapped resource to the community, but may lose their
homes. Creative microcredit lending techniques in exchange for
public service hours by the otherwise unemployable who currently
live in mobile homes is a way to stabilize threatened housing
and, in turn, infuse positive paybacks into the community. What
is microcredit? See Wikipedia article
here. If we put our minds to
creating workable pubic service microcredit solutions derived
from existing, but successful models, many can be kept in their
homes while addressing the economic concerns of current mobile
home park land owners.
- Taxpayer options- Drivers who renew
their vehicle registrations, need to have a voluntary option to check off
on their payment forms designating a small amount of money of
their payments to be devoted to funding affordable housing
solutions or for the protection of displaced mobile home
residents. Options already exist on IRS forms for
Presidential elections and on vehicle registration forms...if we
can add affordable housing as a category, this "re-direction by
option" tool will provide vital annual funding to help tackle
some of the
problems. For more on this proposal, click
- License tag program- Design a new Florida license plate designed
to fund affordable housing studies and solutions.
- A new game- Create a Florida lottery scratch off card
game devoted to funding protection against mobile home
displacement. Distribution of proceeds raised would be
based on strict eligibility criteria and by winners of a
affordable housing lottery.
- South Florida Mobile Home Foundation-
Consideration should be given to establishing a non-profit
corporation to manage donated funds for equitable distribution
to mobile home owners. The sole goal of the foundation would be
to finance ways for individuals to keep their homes.
Private charitable contribution programs should be encouraged
and promoted by this entity.
- South Florida Mobile Home Housing
Cooperative- Residents in mobile home parks can set up a
housing co-operative which purchases the real estate from mobile
home park owners who wish to sell. Each resident would be a
shareholder with the right to occupy their mobile homes, subject
to an occupancy agreement and rules for each park. Shareholders
would not own the real estate, but have an ownership interest in
the co-operative, while still owning or leasing their individual
homes. Shares owned by individuals could be sold at will to new,
or other residents. For more on co-operative housing, see
- Legislative and Executive Branch action-
Existing state laws need to be used and strengthened to
maximize the ability of problem solvers tackle this problem.
Innovative strategies to use programs offered by the Florida Department
of Community Affairs and other agencies in the overall solution
of this crisis are sorely needed.
See Florida Department of Community
Affairs Division of Community Planning web article on Affordable
Housing and relevant links. The reimbursement powers
of the Florida Mobile Home
Relocation Corporation need to be raised to reflect current
market place reality. See the statute that defines the powers of
here. View statute that defines
remedies for land use changes and the current role of the
(Note: Other laws, rules and cases
are applicable. These links are only for information purposes,
and not legal advice). The
Florida Legislature is currently considering changing some of
our neighbors are at risk. We cannot allow displacement of an
important sector of our population by failing to study every
potential solution to the problem as quickly as possible."
One solution for fusing the tools above into concrete action
is another aspect of the solution. As economically painful as it is,
as difficult as it seems, the Town of Davie should consider
purchasing the land from owners who wish to redevelop their
properties but will displace
residents. They can do so by contract or via eminent domain process.
In either case, fair market value can be paid for the land, thus
protecting the property owner's rights.
Mobile home residents can pay rent to the Town. Davie would have a
property management company or companies manage the land, and the
corporate entities would report to Davie's Housing and Community
Development Department. As the land appreciates in value, the Town
has made an investment in its economic future. Davie would refrain from
selling or redevelopment of the affected properties for 20-25 years,
thus giving residents more than an adequate deadline to find affordable
housing. At the end of the ownership period, the Town could sell the
properties, if it desired.
The purchase of mobile home properties could be financed by a combination of a
bond referendum approved by the voters, private investment,
individual and corporate
donations and voluntary re-direction of tax proceeds aimed at solving mobile
home displacement. State and Federal tax dollars and incentives
could provide another piece of the funding puzzle. The public purpose is to protect Davie's
citizens, and the Town gets real property investments for the future. All this
equals proactive leadership, solid investment strategy and good government policy.
If you have any questions or comments about these
proposals and ideas, please e-mail the author at
Your input is much appreciated.
This commentary is updated periodically.
Please check back for additional comments.
Edit dates: 2/24/07;
3/12/07; 3/24/07; 3/27/07.
Feedback On Mobile
Will all parties
voluntarily sit at the table...now...to find a suitable
Ellis Traub has suggested the process of
"facilitation," whereby efforts are made to facilitate
communication between mobile park owners, developers and
residents. If all sides are willing to sit down and
constructively discuss solutions, Mr. Traub suggests
such an effort might help reduce misunderstandings and
quell unfounded rumors about mobile home park conversion
issues. The effort to facilitate a solution by voluntary
discussions may help to head off litigation and expedite
formulation of worthwhile solutions. This process would
involve voluntary participation by all sides, and can
only work if each faction involved in the process
exercises good faith in trying to resolve outstanding
I agree. There is no reason why all sides in this
dispute cannot sit down and try to reach some solutions
without waiting a year or more. Pressure is mounting on
all parties, including the residents facing the
conversion process. The sooner we try to sit down and
discuss the issues with the appropriate players, the
more progress we will make.
If you have feedback
about the Mobile Home Displacement issue, please let us
know. Send your E-mail to us at
NPR.org radio discussion about mobile home
displacement, aired April 28, 2006. Entitled "New
Development Target, Trailer Parks," the story
examines the nationwide trend of developing mobile
home parks. The segment discusses how those about to
be displaced have formulated some answers...but in
some cases, the solutions are few or non-existent.
Click picture to hear story.
Note: NPR.org does not endorse this web site.
Countdown Clock-Remaining Time for Davie Moratorium on Mobile Home Park Conversions
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For more on mobile home displacement, please see our continuing discussion at