Today is one of those days I'm grateful for blogging. I'm grateful for the new ideas and possbilities that present themselves as a result of this effort. It may very well be the St. Paul Pioneer Press has stumbled across an answer to address the affordable housing crisis for seniors.
In today's paper the article "There's a word for folks living in trailers: solution" presents a shift in the way some are thinking about trailer parks. It seems some communities are realizing the possiblities for them and challenging the old stereotypes that the typical resident is a toothless, toe-bacca chewin, banjo-playin, cousin-marrying greazy mechanic.
The average cost of one of these manufactured homes is about $60,000 with the average lot rental rate of $367 per month. This represents a form of home ownership that is not goverment funded. In fact, Minnesota's Mobile Home Parks exceed the number of HUD subsidized rentals in Minnesota.
I'm going to take a leap and put an idea out to the blogosphere.I know many of you continue to hold the stereotypes of mobile home parks, and wouldn't mind if there were more of them, as long as they aren't in your back yard. The fact is, we need more affordable housing for our seniors, and need to start getting creative. This is my stab at creativity (even if you think I'm half-baked).
1) There is a need for affordable senior housing in Minnesota. We have a lot of very nice subsidized rental communities for our seniors, but there simply aren't enough of them. There is almost always a waiting list. Perhaps there is an opportunity for seniors to take advantage of affordable-one-level-living-manufactued homes?
2) There are is a small movement in Minnesota that has some potential, just needs to get it's legs and some resources behind it. There are a growing number of seniors in Minnesota that are not interested in large senior communities. They do not want to live with other elders, they want to belong to a community with others that have similar interests. They want to belong to a community with young couples, singles, and children. With this approach, a small cohousing development could be manufactured in a location where there is land available. This would be so much more affordable than retrofitting an old building. The groups dollars could then be allocated to projects the group felt were highest in priority, perhaps such as a community building were the group can gather for meals or celebrations.
3) Today these manufactured homes aren't eligible for mortgages, but higher interest personal loans. There's an opportunity here for one of the cohousing groups in Minnesota to form a cooperative and get financing through a lender, even for a developer to sell some lots on a contract for deed.