Briefline

Mobile home residents rally against new law stripped of rent cap provision

By: - July 1, 2022 5:00 am

Mobile home residents and activists including Rev. Lydia Ferrante-Roseberry of the Boulder Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, left, rally at the Colorado Capitol on June 30, 2022. (Sara Wilson/Colorado Newsline)

Mobile home residents and activists are calling for a meeting with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to question why he worked to remove a rent stabilization measure in a recently signed law for mobile home resident protections.

“We hope Gov. Polis will agree to meet with mobile park residents to see our full humanity, understand the risk of us losing our homes without rent stabilization. No matter what we look like, where we come from or how much is in our wallets, we all deserve a safe, sustainable place to call home,” Susan Gibson, the president of the homeowners association at Table Mesa Village in Boulder County, told a few dozen rally goers at the state Capitol on Thursday evening.

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Gibson said that since a real estate investor bought the mobile home park she lives in about six years ago, the monthly rent for her lot has nearly doubled. It was similar to the testimonies many other mobile home owners shared at the rally organized by advocacy groups 9to5 Colorado and Together Colorado.

There are about 100,000 mobile homes in Colorado. Mobile home residents face a unique challenge, because they often own the structure they live in but not the land it is on.

The organizers and attendees on Thursday said they wanted to call out Polis for causing the removal of what they view as a key affordability provision in legislation he recently signed into law. They said the exclusion threatens their housing stability.

The bill, House Bill 22-1287, originally included provisions to extend the time period residents have to buy for-sale mobile home parks, expand protections for residents when parks close, and cap lot rent increases to 3% annually or the local rate of inflation, whichever is higher.

That rent cap was axed from the bill, however, when Polis threatened a veto if it remained, according to Colorado Public Radio. His thinking reportedly was that rent stabilization could lead to increased closure or abandonment of those mobile home communities.

Polis signed the amended bill into law in May. It will go into effect in October.

Rent increases of 10, 20 and 30% force people to choose between food or medical care or shelter, and increase the chance of people losing their housing all together.

– Rev. Lydia Ferrante-Roseberry of the Boulder Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

Those who attended Thursday’s rally however, see the combination of ever-increasing rent at the whims of corporate owners and stagnant wages in a tough economy as one that forces choices between rent and other necessities like groceries and utility bills. Many of the speakers noted that they live on a low or fixed income.

“As it stands now, it is becoming more difficult to pay my lot rent and my other expenses like food, gas, medicine and other necessities. Someone my age, who has owned her home for years, should not have to worry about becoming homeless simply because the land under her home continues to rise in rent,” Gibson said, reading a statement on behalf of her neighbor Anne who has lived at Table Mesa Village for 20 years.

The rent stabilization was the only major part of the bill to be cut, but activists said it was a crucial protection that mobile home residents deserve.

“There are many provisions in the bill about protections for mobile park residents that did pass, but when tenants are not protected from excessive rent increases, those other protections lose their meaning,” Rev. Lydia Ferrante-Roseberry of the Boulder Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship said. “Rent increases of 10, 20 and 30% force people to choose between food or medical care or shelter, and increase the chance of people losing their housing all together.”

Activists on Thursday called on Polis to meet with them and hinted at a new campaign aimed at repealing the state’s ban on rent control for all types of housing. They went to the governor’s office earlier in the day to deliver letters with those demands.

“We are not going away and we are not done fighting,” Heather Malone, vice president of the Golden Hills Community Cooperative and leader with Together Colorado, said. “We will be back next legislative session to demand action and ensure dignity and equitable housing for all.”

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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado. Wilson earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.

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