Balance sheets

Rupert Neate profiles lucrative trailer park investments:

According to US Census figures, more than 20 million people, or 6% of the population, live in trailer parks. …

[Frank] Rolfe, who started Mobile Home University seven years ago and now runs boot camps every couple months in cities across the country, tells his students they can easily increase the rent even at parks that are already charging market rates, because there is so much demand for affordable housing and local authorities are very reluctant to grant permission for new parks.

He quotes US government statistics showing that in 2013, 39% of Americans earned less than $20,000 – less than the government’s poverty threshold income of $20,090 for a three-person household.

“That’s huge. No one believes that number – people say: ‘You’re crazy, this is America, everyone is rich.’ [Being on an income of $20,000 or less] means you have a budget of about $500 a month for your housing, but the average two-bedroom apartment is $1,109 a month. There’s not a lot you can do.”

And: “If the investors were to buy this park and put up his rent, Newton, who collects disability payments of $700 a month and pays $550 a month in rent, fears he would be forced on to the street. ‘I would have to find another low-rent place to move to,” he says. “I would probably end up having to be homeless.’”

It’s great that investors can chase lucrative opportunities, but social and human costs are also true parts of the balance sheet.

When political leaders become responsible for rectifying social inequities, it’s probably because the nation’s civil leaders has abdicated their primary role. We (the people) are those civil leaders.


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