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Saturday, Sep 24, 2022

Affordable Housing vs Low-Income Housing

There is lots of talk these days about the need for more affordable housing in the Southern California region.  It is important to recognize the difference between “low-income” housing and “affordable” housing. 

Low-income housing is subsidized by the government.  There are several projects throughout the region that are monitored by local government housing authorities.  An on-line search or call to the regional housing authorities will provide a list of available low-income housing rental projects.  Some projects are for veterans, seniors and others for all-ages.  There are also low-income for-sale housing projects sponsored by housing authorities and by organizations like Habitat for Humanity.

In these low-income housing developments, renters or home buyers must meet strict income guidelines.  Only low-income can qualify to live in these developments.  The income is determined by the income of the entire family and includes funds in the bank and investments.

Affordable housing, on the other hand, is not limited to low-income renters or purchasers.  There is no limit to the amount of income a person or family has.  It is their choice to live in the available affordable housing.  Apartments, condominiums, and mobile home parks/manufactured housing communities are considered affordable housing stock in the various individual jurisdictions housing elements. 

Mobile home Parks/Manufactured Housing Communities, offer a lifestyle choice that attracts a wide range of renters and buyers.  Mobile Home Park residents are both home owners and renters.  They own the mobile home or manufactured home and rent the site or lot within a Mobile Home Park to locate their home.  The Park is a little city that provides all of the services and facilities.  The owner of the Park is responsible, just like a city, to maintain the streets, utility systems, public areas and facilities. 

Living in Mobile Home Park is a lifestyle choice, not necessarily an income driven decision.  Residents living in Parks may be high income retirees or may have moderate incomes.  Many Mobile Home Parks are senior housing communities and attract seniors who are down-sizing after selling a home. 

Other Parks are attractive to families because, unlike an apartment and many condominiums, most lots/sites rented in a Mobile Home Park have yards, patios, and parking spaces adjacent to the home.  In addition, these communities often offer many amenities such as a clubhouse and pool, which are attractive to both seniors and families.

There is no doubt that the cost of housing in many areas of Southern California is higher than many other regions.  Inland counties such as Riverside and San Bernardino, a region referred to as the Inland Empire, offer considerably more reasonable housing than most areas of coastal Orange County, as an example.  While rents in a typical Orange County Mobile Home Park may be over $1,000 a month, a similar Park in areas of the Inland Empire rents are as low as $400 a month. 

In conclusion, when Cities and other government agencies are talking about the need for more affordable housing, they are NOT referring to building more Mobile Home Parks or Manufactured Housing Communities because on the same amount of land they can build many more units.  They are talking about and planning to build more and more high-rise apartments or condominiums. 

Living in a mobile home park provides a unique lifestyle for all ages and all income groups.

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