COMMUNITY ORGANIZING

Since 1980, APAC has organized with resident homeowners to identify community issues, unite residents around a common vision, and develop powerful leaders who can influence decision makers, set the agenda, and win real changes for their community.

Manufactured homeowners around the state are organizing for justice. For far too long residents have been treated as second-class citizens by public officials, businesses, park owners, and the media. The results are park closings, deteriorating living conditions, and the all too familiar stereotypes used to marginalize our communities.

Park owners, developers, and governments have deeply rooted institutional power that they use to promote their values, which include profit as a benefit in itself, and notions of "progress" dictated by the “highest and best use” of land. The resulting state of manufactured home parks is no accident. Manufactured homeowners are organizing around a clear and different set of values: family, home, community, justice, and equality.

In order to win effective changes, we need to build a powerful movement with manufactured homeowners at the helm creating a vehicle for their own social, economic, and political power. We need to promote our values and build our power by organizing people, ideas, and actions. We need to stop the portrayal of residents as victims, and confront the ideas, policies, and practices that are causing their problems.

Recently, homeowners have organized with APAC to:

To find out more about community organizing refer to APAC's Organizing Manual, click on the links below, or call and talk with one of our staff organizers.

Resident Associations

What is a Resident Association?

A Resident Association is a legally recognized voice for residents of manufactured home parks. According to Minnesota Statue 327C.01 subd. 9a. "Resident Association" means an organization that has the written permission of the owners of at least 51% of the manufactured homes in the park to represent them, and which is organized for the purpose of resolving matters relating to living conditions in the manufactured home park. Resident Associations can address many park wide issues by requesting necessary repairs and maintenance and improvements in health and safety conditions in the park. A Resident Association can bring park residents together and serve as an effective outlet to voice concerns and take action against unfair park rules. It can also work to pass a Park Closing Ordinance, or address other issues that affect residents of your park.

How to Form One

Step 1: Identify park concerns a Resident Association could address
Step 2: Collect signatures for Resident Association petition
Step 3: Define mission statement of the Association
Step 4: Hold Board Elections
Step 5: Approve By-laws
Step 6: Incorporate the Association
Step 7: Celebration
Step 8: Win real victories for your community!

APAC is here to help you. We can provide information, advice, and support in forming a resident association. In some cases, we can flyer the park with information and, if there is a strong interest, we can even organize an educational workshop in the park. Workshops generally cover resident rights and responsibilities as well as other questions as they come up.

Signing the agreement to join the Resident Association does not mean you must attend Resident Association meetings. it simply says that it gives the Resident Association permission to speak on park residents' behalf regarding park-wide issues. The people who sign on to the Resident Association will remain confidential. Management will not have access to the list of Resident Association members.

If you are interested in creating a Resident Association in your park or if you think there is interest in a residents' rights workshop in your area, contact APAC in the metro area at 651-644-5525 or outside the metro area at 1-855-361-2722 to find out what can be scheduled. To find out more about organizing your community refer to APAC's Organizing Manual.

Risk of Park Closings


Manufactured home parks provide one of the most important sources of affordable housing in Minnesota, providing homes to 150,000 individuals. But, as land values soar and redevelopment pressures build, parks are closing at an increasing rate. Under state law, these low-income homeowners are given only three options during a park closure: try to move the home to another park (or parcel of land) at a significant expense; leave the home where it is and pay for its demolition; or approach their municipality about adopting a park closing ordinance in order to obtain compensation. All Parks Alliance for Change (APAC) is releasing this report which looks at the vital role of parks, the impacts of closure, and the response of Minnesota cities over the last two decades.

“Manufactured home parks are a vital source of affordable housing. Many people can literally not afford to live anywhere else if their park closes,” said Dave Anderson, APAC executive director. “The closure of a park can be financially devastating for residents and most often means the loss of their homes and no where else to move within their means.” Homes are most often unmovable because of age, moving costs (averaging $5,000 to $15,000), shortage of available lots, or parks barring homes over 10 years old (71% of homes). “Owners of traditional stick-built homes are fully compensated when new development forces them to abandon their homes, but residents of parks are not,” added Anderson.

Rising land values, deferred maintenance and the desire to enlarge the local tax base increase the risk of park closures. During the last five years, the value of land has increased at a record-breaking pace in Minnesota. Prime developable real estate can sell anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 an acre. In 2003, land prices in Minnesota increased more than 12%, the fastest growth rate in the nation. In the last five years, there have been 12 park closures totaling 219 households. There are currently 5 parks in the process of closing totaling 253 more households. There are another 16 parks at risk of closure adding another 1,626 threatened households.

“On the surface, park closures due to redevelopment seem like a natural mechanism of the real estate market – a parcel of land is sold by its owner to a developer that will put it to another use. Ostensibly, the park is brought to a use that is ‘higher’ and ‘better.’ However, there is much more to the story,” said Margaret Kaplan, APAC staff attorney. “Park closures not only impact the families living in the park, but this mass displacement can also have effects on their communities and local economies, including higher demand on social services, increased homelessness, and losses to the local work force and consumer base.”

State and local governments have a vital role in addressing this problem because they license and regulate parks, and restrictively zone manufactured homes to parks. In 1987, Minnesota passed legislation allowing cities to adopt park closing ordinances. These ordinances guarantee that when a park is closed, the park owner and/or buyer will pay reasonable relocation costs to move each home within a 25-mile radius. If a home cannot be moved, the owner/buyer buys out the home at its tax assessed or appraised market value. Twenty-one cities have adopted ordinances, which leave the residents in park neighborhoods of 380 other cities unprotected.

“The goal is to allow park residents to have a sense of security. They are 80 percent low to very low income; yet they have become home owners without any kind of public subsidy. They deserve a peace of mind,” said Daren Nyquist, the reports author. “Park closing ordinances do not seek to put limitations on the transactions of private property. They are simply a tool to ensure that the property interests of the owner of the underlying land are fairly balanced against the property rights of the homeowners.”

Park closing ordinances can bring some protection to manufactured home park residents. They provide a structural guide to park closings at the local level and allow the means for residents to transition to alternative housing. Additionally, in an effort to rectify some of the consistently occurring problems related to these ordinances, a new model ordinance was drafted in 2006 and is attached to the report.

During the 2007 Minnesota Legislative Session, APAC is seeking to establish uniform statewide standards that guarantee reasonable compensation for moving costs or a home buy-out. The proposed Manufactured Home Relocation Trust Fund was introduced as House File 1205, authored by Rep. Scott Kranz (DFL-Blaine), and Senate File 1196, authored by Sen. Michael Jungbauer (R-East Bethel).

In 2006, Rep. Kranz spoke with many park homeowners in Blaine; a fast-growing north metro suburb in which 14 percent of the city’s residents live in manufactured home parks. Blaine, however, does not have a park closing ordinance. “These communities are diverse, hard working, and make valuable contributions to society,” said Rep. Kranz. “Park residents are real people that deserve peace of mind.

Policy Report - Park Closing Ordinance

Manufactured home parks provide the largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing in the state. They serve those individuals who are very low-income and provide opportunities for home ownership. These parks, however, are increasingly at risk due to rising land values, deferred maintenance, and the desire to increase the local tax base. This risk is substantial because Minnesota has approximately 950 manufactured home parks, containing nearly 50,000 homes and housing approximately 150,000 residents. Moreover, many of these parks are experiencing increased development pressures and risks of closure. To the residents of manufactured home parks, park closures mean displacement from their homes and communities, loss of affordable housing, and oppressive out-of-pocket expenses.

Owners of traditional stick-built homes are fully compensated when new development forces them to abandon their homes, but residents of parks are not. Park residents face an unusual housing situation because they own their homes but rent the land. The closing of a park can be financially devastating as it often means the loss of homes since most manufactured homes cannot be moved due to their poor condition, moving costs, shortage of available lots, and/or parks barring homes over ten years old. The closure of a park also affects the greater community, since local shelters and transitional housing facilities are already unable to cope with the increasing numbers of people needing services.

State and local governments have a vital role in addressing this problem because they license and regulate parks, restrictively zone manufactured homes to parks, adopt goals to increase minority home ownership, have plans to end homelessness, and provide services to those in need. State and local governments have the ability to pass a park closing ordinance (also known as relocation compensation ordinance) which will protect residents from the financial losses of a park closing. These ordinances provide a guarantee that when a park is closed, the park owner and/or buyer pay the reasonable relocation costs to move each home within a 25-mile radius, or if the home cannot be moved, the owner/buyer buys out the home at its taxed market value or appraised market value. Twenty-one cities have adopted ordinances leaving 90% of manufactured home parks unprotected by a park closing ordinance. This means that approximately 135,000 residents, most of whom are low-income, would lose their homes and thousands of dollars if their park were closed.

This report looks at the importance of manufactured home parks, their demographics and other substantial statistics. It explains what has created the critical need for park closing ordinances, and how park closures and ordinances affect both the manufactured home park residents and the greater community.

Mobile Justice Week

Celebrate Manufactured Home Park Week

September 24, 2006

The State of Minnesota has officially recognized the importance of manufactured (mobile) home parks through a proclamation by Governor Tim Pawlenty declaring the final week in September (24th - 30th) as "Manufactured Home Park Week." Park residents, housing advocates, and public officials geared up for a week filled with events and celebrations across the state.

"This week will help to focus statewide attention on the vital role of manufactured home parks in the state. Manufactured homes provide affordable housing and an opportunity for low-income Minnesotans to become homeowners," said Edward Landrum, former president of APAC's board of directors. "Parks are also thriving neighborhoods. They are places where people form communities, raise families, and often retire. We hope this week will help the broader public begin to see this face of parks."

Currently more than 180,000 Minnesotans live in over 900 manufactured home parks. They provide decent, safe, and affordable homeownership to families in almost every county in Minnesota. Parks present one of the largest sources of unsubsidized affordable housing in the state. With over 50,000 units of housing, manufactured home parks make up 5% of the state's overall housing
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APAC expects "Park Week" to raise the public awareness of manufactured home parks and their importance as a source for homeownership and affordable housing. "Park Week" also sheds light on the increasing trend in the number of manufactured home park neighborhoods that have been demolished for redevelopment. At the local level, APAC and residents from parks across the state have been working to engage local public officials to commit resources to safeguard residents from the threat of redevelopment. On April 1st, 2006, Shady Lane Mobile Home Park, located in the city of Bloomington, closed due to redevelopment and consequently 50 families were displaced.

"Park Week is about Mobile Justice," said Ned Moore, Park Week Coordinator at All Parks Alliance for Change. "In the past 6 years, 15 mobile home parks have closed in the State of Minnesota. We are losing more parks every year, and hundreds of families are losing their homes."

Organizing Manual (and Fundraising Manual)


Free Organizing Manual Now Available!

The much anticipated APAC Community Organizing Manual is now available online for printing and distribution. This manual is a collection of original and modified organizing materials specifically designed for use in manufactured home park organizing efforts. These materials are not only for homeowners and homeowner associations, but for nonprofit professionals to better understand resident concerns and how to effectively work with them, including housing and consumer advocates, public interest law firms, community housing development organizations, and others. Download sections as needed and call with any questions you may have!

This organizing manual can be used and distributed individually or collectively; however, some material is based on concepts presented in previous sections. The downloadable sections are as follows:

1) Introduction & Table of Contents
2) Organizing
3) Leadership
4) Resident Associations
5) Park Prejudice
6) Racial Justice
7) Media and Messaging
8) Policy

Additionally, see our Fundraising Supplement to the Organizing Manual.