The third Fall Forum for Manufactured Home Owners, planned by CU Boulder's Community Engagement, Design and Research Center (CEDaR) in partnership with other organizations, doubled its attendance over last year.
About 90 people attended "Yes We Can! Engaging with Policies for Positive Change in Colorado’s Manufactured Home Communities," which took place Nov. 9 at the East Boulder Community Center. Attendees included manufactured home (MH) residents and advocates from across the state, as well as Colorado State Rep. Edie Hooton and Rep. Julie McCluskie. Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) program managers and other policymakers also were available to answer questions regarding the new 2019 MH residents' rights legislation, the Mobile Home Park Oversight Act (HB19-1309), passed by the Colorado Legislature in May 2019, and its impact on MH owners and renters.
Lauren Riggin, project manager for the Colorado Coalition of Manufactured Home Owners’ (CoCoMHO) statewide outreach initiative, attributed the attendance increase to resident interest in the new MH legislation, which was sponsored by Hooton and McCluskie, as well as to a growing sentiment among policymakers that preserving mobile home parks and protecting park residents is critical to addressing the state’s affordable housing crisis.
"This really was a remarkable year for manufactured home owner rights in Colorado," Riggin said. "The Mobile Home Park Oversight Act is the first Colorado legislation ever expressly designed to enforce the resident rights aspects of the original 1985 act, helping to correct the extreme imbalance of power between mobile home park home owners and landowners."
One forum panel focused on this legislation, which includes the creation of the "Dispute Resolution and Enforcement Program” (DREP), whereby homeowners can submit complaints about their mobile home parks to the program run by DOLA's Division of Housing. Prior to the DREP, park residents had little recourse against park owner infractions apart from cost-prohibitive courtroom action, Riggins said.
Along with other policymakers, DOLA program managers participated on the panel, providing an opportunity for attendees to have their questions answered. The Division of Housing is authorized under the law to investigate, mediate and take enforcement action on behalf of aggrieved residents and park owners alike, and the program launches May 1.
Conference speakers and panelists included local activists and representatives from the city, county, and state, along with Brian Muller of CEDaR, and three nonprofit organizations. Also included were Cameron Netherland and McKenzie Brandon, student attorneys from the CU Law Clinic, who presented research about water infrastructure and billing practices within local manufactured housing parks.
The forum was co-organized by CEDaR, CoCoMHO, City of Boulder, Boulder County Public Health, and the Coalition of Manufactured Home Owners in Boulder (C-MOB). It was also supported in part by a grant from the Colorado Health Foundation.