This report explores various disparities based on race that exist in the lives of residents in manufactured (mobile) home parks within the State of Minnesota. Through several case studies, numerous inequalities were found between parks with predominately Latino residents and parks with non-Latino residents. Specifically, it was found that although Latino residents pay approximately the same in lot rent as non-Latino residents, the quality of parks with predominately Latino residents is drastically lower. In addition, Latino residents are more likely to experience unsatisfactory management practices and received less support from city officials.
"It is important to note that, based on the 2000 U.S. Census, 10% of park residents statewide are people of color. Taking this fact into consideration, it is disturbing to learn that 54% of the residents displaced due to park closings are people of color. It must be questioned as to why people of color are being displaced at a disproportionate rate,” said Julia Wells the report's author. “This report is a call for action to allow manufactured home parks to be communities free of disparities based on race.”
The Latino population living in manufactured home parks is both substantial and increasing. It is thought that this trend will continue, and according to census data, “Minnesota’s nonwhite and Latino populations are projected to grow significantly faster than the white population.” Based on a report by Centro Campesino and the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA), 31% of migrant workers live in manufactured homes. Currently, within the 7-county metro, five percent of those who own their manufactured home are Hispanic or Latino. Clearly, Latinos have a significant presence in Minnesota as a whole, as well as within manufactured home parks explicitly.
This report looks at three case studies:
- Bloomington, Minnesota – The city of Bloomington once included five parks: Lyndale Lodge, Collins Park, Shady Lane Court, Krestwood Mobile Home Park, and Southgate Mobile Village. Of these parks, only Krestwood and Southgate remain. It is imperative to consider the attitudes of city officials towards parks during these closings. When Lyndale Lodge closed in 1986, it prompted Bloomington to become the first city in the state to pass a park closing ordinance to guarantee relocation compensation. When Collins Park closed in 1994, the city became involved in a legal case to ensure residents received full compensation. When Shady Lane Court – a community that was overwhelmingly people of color (74%) and predominantly Latino (56%) – received closure notices in 2005, city officials did not offer support and made such statements as: “It’s time for a reality check; maybe some people can’t afford to live in Bloomington.” In addition, Krestwood Mobile Home Park and Southgate Mobile Village are owned and operated by the same management company, but have very different racial composition with 3% and 30% Latino households, respectively. These two parks reside on the same road and in the same city, but it is clear that the management disperses extremely unequal amounts of time and energy between the two parks, which are virtually identical in rent, age of homes, and homeownership rates, but dramatically different in park conditions and amenities.
- Shakopee, Minnesota – There are four parks in the communities surrounding the city and township of Shakopee in Scott County: Bonnevista Terrace, Jackson Heights Trailer Park, Mobile Manor Park, and Valley Haven LLP. These parks reside in similar communities and are all located within five miles of one another. What make each park distinctive are the different Latino population percentages and the consequences that follow. They are 9%, 82%, 65% and 18%, respectively. Only one park (Valley Haven LLP) falls within the city boundaries of Shakopee and therefore is the only park in this community to be covered by a park closing ordinance. The remaining three parks are specifically excluded from this ordinance, even if the city were to expand its boundaries. In addition, despite lot rent differences of only twenty dollars, the Latino parks have poor park conditions and limited amenities, conditions that don’t exist in the non-Latino parks.
- Melrose, Minnesota – There are two parks within the city limits: Melrose Mobile Home Park and Rose Park. This case study is unique due to the rural location of the city. The strongly divided racial composition that exists between these two parks allows for a well-matched comparison of various disparities present in this community. Melrose Mobile Home Park is a beautiful neighborhood; everything is well kept and nicely run. Although Rose Park’s rent is around 100% higher than Melrose Mobile Home Park, the standard of living has deteriorated due to management’s complete disregard for the residents’ well being. Some examples are inadequately maintained roads and poor drainage. The families who rent their homes and lots from management suffer most, with cockroaches and mold.
"Manufactured home park residents clearly face many disparities as a consequence of their race. In order to reduce the inexcusable disparities found in parks, some simple steps must be taken by both the municipality and the parks themselves," said Dave Anderson, APAC's executive director. "Correcting the issues covered in this report will help bring justice and equality to Latino residents. This is the first step in a long process that must be undertaken in order to reverse these widespread disparities."
Throughout Minnesota, many problems experienced by park residents fall more heavily on park communities with substantial Latino populations. APAC is working in a number of park communities around the state where Latino residents are dealing with racial harassment, unlawful evictions, illegal residency denials, steering towards parks or sections of parks with fewer amenities, and significant health and safety issues.
"Racism is not simply a matter of intentional actions by individual actors. In examining the above case studies, a more subtle form of racial injustice is revealed. Although there may not be deliberate discrimination on the part of government or private parties, the end result is stark segregation along racial lines," said Margaret Kaplan, APAC staff attorney. "Not only are parks segregated, but the quality of life in many parks are divided along racial lines and is evidence of a discriminatory impact. While it is difficult to pinpoint solutions when it is not possible to identify individual bad acts, this is no excuse for what, at a quick glance is obvious: living conditions are worse for Latino manufactured home park residents than for non-Latino residents."