This project is the result of an ambitious, first-of-its-kind collaboration between The Durango Herald, The Colorado Sun and more than a dozen Colorado news organizations. Newspaper, online, radio, TV and wire service journalists fanned out across the state to focus on the evolving landscape for mobile homes – Colorado’s largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing. Among the findings:
More than 100,000 people live in more than 900 mobile home parks in Colorado. But the number of parks is declining and ownership is consolidating as large investors buy in, sometimes leading to displacement and redevelopment.
About 1,300 households live in 45 mobile home parks across La Plata County, and residents in the Durango area say they have seen lot rents increase by 50% to 100% in parks owned by corporations.
Even Durango’s middle class is finding mobile homes – the “affordable” option – too pricey in a town where the median home goes for $500,000. So they’re moving.
In Adams County, which has the state’s largest concentration of mobile homes, the number of both homes and parks has dropped to 11,300 homes in 66 parks today, from more than 13,000 mobile homes in 71 parks 20 years ago, according to assessor records.
About a third of Weld County’s mobile homes were built from 1960 to 1979, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Many don’t meet safety standards.
The 2013 floods continue to reverberate for many mobile home residents in northern Colorado. In Lyons, Evans and Milliken, 273 mobile homes were destroyed, and most were not replaced because parks failed to reopen.
Aspen took steps in the early 1980s to preserve a mobile home park in town that exists today as an affordable housing neighborhood. Pitkin County has since bought or helped preserve four other parks in the upper Roaring Fork Valley for affordable housing.
In San Miguel County, the last mobile home park closed in the early 1990s.
In Steamboat Springs and Routt County in the past decade, the number of mobile homes has declined by half.
Outside Greeley, Hill-N-Park allowed residents to invest in a mobile home and own the land beneath it. Now, residents feel abandoned.
The Aspens Mobile Home Village in Avon is home for many workers in the hospitality, service and construction industries, a precarious home for the many immigrants who fill those jobs.
Aurora was poised to become a national model with its moratorium on redeveloping mobile home parks. Now it struggles to provide affordable housing.
The Fort Collins City Council put a moratorium on redevelopment of mobile home parks until August 2020 and is considering increasing the six months’ notice for redevelopment of a park and giving residents or nonprofits the option to buy the land if it goes up for sale.
An Adams County mobile home park is among the latest to shut down due to redevelopment. The Crestville Mobile Home Park, near Federal Boulevard and West 56th Avenue, is filled with abandoned homes and at times, neighbors say, animals and vagrants. The owner would not say what’s next.
ContributorsContributors to this project include: The Aspen Times, Associated Press, Aurora Sentinel, Colorado Sun, Colorado Independent, Cortez Journal, Delta County Independent, Durango Herald, Fort Collins Coloradoan, Fox 31-KDVR, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Greeley Tribune, KUNC, Montrose Daily Press, Ouray County Plaindealer and Steamboat Pilot & Today.