Mobile home park proponents and residents have asked Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to visit and meet the people affected by his recent veto of the rent stabilization component in HB22-1287, known as the “Protection for Mobile Home Park Residents Act.”
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Earlier this year, the Colorado legislature passed two bills designed to deliver financial support and added protections for the nearly 100,000 Coloradans who live in mobile home parks across the state.
SB22-160 creates a state-administered revolving loan and grant program for residents who want to buy and manage their mobile home park. It provides not only financing for the purchase price, but also for specialty services such as technical assistance to help new resident-owned communities succeed.
On the other hand, HB22-1287 provides clarification and beefed-up resident protection, and specifically prohibits landlords from harassing or leveraging undue influence should residents organize to purchase their community.
But HB22-1287, known as the “Protection for Mobile Home Park Residents Act” was supposed to do so much more.
When the 44-page piece of legislation left Gov. Polis’s desk on May 26, it was signed, but it had been gutted of its key component — lot rent stabilization — a measure to prevent landlords from upping mobile home lot rent by more than 3% or by an amount that exceeds inflation within any 12-month period.
But proponents and residents have extended an invitation to Gov. Polis to visit a mobile home park community and speak directly with those affected.
A small delegation of community representatives traveled to the state capitol on the afternoon of June 30 to deliver a handwritten invitation to the governor, but the office had closed early.
Along with the invitation, the group slipped a folder under the governor's door that included examples of lot and service increases from multiple mobile home parks across the state.
Cesiah Guadarrama-Trejo, associate director of 9 to 5 Colorado, a women’s advocacy group said the folder included copies of lot rent increase notifications across 13 different parks in Colorado, representing more than 3000 homes.
“Through HB22 1287, there was a protection to stabilize lot rents increases, and due to the veto threat, that protection had to come out—it was one person, one pen, and it was him,” said Guadarrama-Trejo referring to the governor.
“So we’re here to show him what these rent increases mean and how they impact families. We have a letter from faith leaders and from the community and we have an invitation for him to come to a mobile home community and meet with residents and understand what these rent increases really mean,” she added.
Susan Gibson, a mobile home park resident and the president of the Table Mesa Village Co-op in Boulder County where she lives said she hopes Polis will reconsider his actions.
“I’m here to educate the governor on the mistake he made when he said he would veto the bill that had lot rent stabilization in it,” said Gibson from inside the state capitol. “He said he would veto it if it had that part in it, so it was removed so the rest of the bill would get passed.”
Gibson points to out-of-state real estate investors who buy up mobile home parks and dramatically increase lot rents.
“This becomes a terrible conflict when you own your house but you can’t afford to stay in your house because the lot rents have become so high — too high for many people to afford,” she said.
Colorado Community Media reached out to Gov. Polis with questions regarding the reason behind the veto threat and whether or not he had received the invitation from the mobile home community representatives.
“The governor has stepped up to provide relief for Coloradans during challenging times and believes people need housing stability which is why he is working with the legislature to pass a truly transformational housing package to create more housing that people can actually afford to buy or rent, reduce the cost of first-time homeownership and help Coloradans save money with a shorter commute to work or school," said Conor Cahill, press secretary for Gov. Polis, when asked about HB22-1287. “The governor believes that prefab modular homes and mobile homes are an important part of the housing solution for our state and supports mobile home reforms as long as they won’t lead to the closure or abandonment of mobile home communities.”
But when pressed again for specific answers about why the rent stabilization component was removed, the governor’s office declined to comment, stating, “We have nothing more to add on this.”
Joyce Tanner, president of the Golden Hills Community Co-op, a community in Golden, Colorado that has attempted three times —unsuccessfully — to buy and manage their community said she hopes the invitation will garner a meeting with the governor and the opportunity to “start a dialogue and a conversation and have education around what the lot rent increases have truly meant for us.”
Tanner said there are residents in her own mobile home park that live on fixed incomes and are now facing the possibility of having to move.
“Our park experienced around a 51% increase (in lot rent) and we have already been told that we should expect more in the coming years,” Tanner said. “I had an invitation to deliver, but ultimately I’m looking for solutions and how the governor and the general public can be educated on what it means to live in a mobile home park as we are the largest unsubsidized form of what has been affordable housing.”
Gibson said she wants to make sure the governor understands the situation residents face, "so that next year he goes ahead and does the right thing and signs a bill with lot rent stabilization in it, we’re bringing him all of these examples that he cannot ignore and he can’t ignore claim in the future that he did not know what the problem was.”
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