News this week that more than 200 residents, who rent spaces for their manufactured homes in three Beaverton mobile home parks, will be required to find other places to live, is a very sad tale.
The three Beaverton mobile home parks are located on approximately 21 acres of prime land along Southwest Jenkins Road and Murray Boulevard that the owner hopes to develop into a mix of retail and commercial uses. Affected are the residents of the Beaverton Mobilodge park, which has about 128 spaces; Nut Tree Estates (68 spaces); and Young's Mobile Estates (26 spaces). The residents have until Aug. 4, 2007 to move.
Mobile home park closures unfortunately are being repeated throughout Washington County. Since February, nine mobile home parks have been targeted for closure to make way for more lucrative development. Mobile home parks have closed in Tualatin, King City and Sherwood. In Clackamas County, one park already has closed this year and another is expected to close soon.
Each closure is different. Each park has its own character. Many parks have been home to residents for numerous years. Beaverton's Young's Estates has many senior citizen residents. Mobilelodge is home to many working families and Nut Tree Estates to many Hispanic families. Unfortunately, due to the closure of so many local parks, these residents have few, if any, alternative choices of places to which they can move their mobile homes. According to Pat Schwoch, executive director of the Manufactured Home Owners of Oregon, one McMinnville park has 30 spaces available for rent. But how many people want to move to, and commute from, Yamhill County?
Mobile park closures confirm a growing, distressing picture of Washington County - and, really, the rest of the Portland area. As the price of land and the cost of housing increases, fewer and fewer choices for diverse and affordable housing are being created. For some, mobile home living was that choice.
With fewer parks remaining within the urban growth boundary, affordable housing choices may be relegated to apartments; low-income, subsidized developments; or locations in nearby suburban communities such as Canby, Sandy, Scappoose or Newberg - many miles away from urban jobs and subject to increased housing costs, as well.
The region is planning right now for the next 20 years of growth and 1 million more people to move here. It's called the New Look and is being led by Metro. We better start by determining how to provide more people more affordable housing choices closer to where they work and presently live.
Along the way, however, let's not get carried away and castigate the owners of these mobile home parks that are closing as being insensitive or selfish. They too have rights to appropriately use the land they own and benefit from their investment.
In the case of the Beaverton properties, owner-developer Sawara Property Group of West Linn, has announced a tenant relocation program to move many residents to different mobile home parks, or provide money so they can find other living accommodations. Sawara is offering information assistance, a $5,250 payment to residents who agree to move before Feb. 17, 2007, and reimbursement for the cost of disposing of abandoned mobile homes.
However, with the closure of these many mobile home parks with no planning for replacement parks, a large question still faces the county and the region: how will this type of diverse and affordable housing be replaced as mobile home park living becomes more and more a thing of the past?