MONTPELIER, Vt. – December 12, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) – Mobile homes are nearly twice as likely to be located in a flood hazard area as stick built homes and were disproportionately impacted by Tropical Storm Irene. Unfortunately, mobile home residents often lack the resources necessary to repair or replace their homes, and difficult lessons were learned about the state’s preparedness for responding to disasters affecting this housing segment.
Today, the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development issued a series of recommendations to improve the disaster resilience of mobile homes and parks. Its Report on the Viability and Disaster Resilience of Mobile Home Ownership and Parks also addresses longstanding challenges facing mobile home and park owners. Based on extensive research and collaboration with other agencies and stakeholders, the report suggests actions at the individual, local and statewide levels.
“With two years of disaster and recovery experience behind us, we know what makes mobile homes vulnerable and what can be done to make Vermonters who reside in them safer,” Jennifer Hollar, Deputy Commissioner of the Department, said. “Simple and complex, inexpensive and costly, individually and statewide, there are many ways to improve the resilience of this important form of affordable housing.”
The Department will work with state agencies, housing groups and others to implement the recommendations. These recommendations are also benefitting other states; the Department has shared many of the lessons learned with the State of Colorado, which is assisting hundreds of mobile home owners after recent flooding.
Mobile homes that were damaged in Irene were often identified as repairable by FEMA inspections, resulting in minimal assistance to the owner even when the home was rendered permanently uninhabitable. An interim measure was developed to condemn destroyed mobile homes in the precise way required by FEMA to secure full assistance. The report recommends legislation giving municipal governments the required authority in preparation for future disasters.
University of Vermont researchers found that only 13 percent of local hazard mitigation plans in towns with mobile home parks specifically address the potential risks to those parks. Consequently, recommendations were made to, and have been included in the recently approved State Hazard Mitigation Plan. This includes providing education and outreach to Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC’s), park owners and residents on disaster preparedness planning and strategies.
The report also outlines a process for identifying safer parcels of land for relocating mobile homes or parks if necessary or the opportunity arises, and looks into the availability of financing for mobile homes and alternative types of park ownership, and mobile home construction to replace older, inefficient units.
Finally, a Mobile Home Park Risk Assessment Tool enables agencies and park owners to identify and assess the vulnerabilities of a park, allowing planning and mitigation to occur or to respond to any sale or closure notices.
The consulting team engaged by the Department to research and draft the plan comprised consultants Paul Luciano, M.P.H., and Nolan Riegler, J.D., and Dan Baker, Ph.D and Kelly Hamshaw, M.S. from the University of Vermont Center for Rural Studies.
For more information, visit Strong Communities at www.accd.vermont.gov, and read the full report at http://accd.vermont.gov/sites/accd/files/Documents/strongcommunities/housing/mobile-home-viability-report.pdf.
Jen Hollar, Deputy Commissioner
Department of Housing and Community Development
Jennifer.Hollar (at) state.vt (dot) us