Preserving Mobile Home Communities through Shared-Equity Ownership Mechanisms: A Case Study of the Burnsville Land Community (BLC)
AbstractAs sprawl and an increase of new residents in many rural areas in Western North Carolina (WNC) lead to increased land values, the owners of many mobile home communities (MHCs) are selling the land for development, resulting in the displacement of tenants. In some areas of the U.S. residents of MHCs have formed models of social ownership of the land on which their homes are located to prevent such displacement. This case study traces the events leading up to and surrounding the establishment of the Burnsville Land Community (BLC), the result of the first such effort in North Carolina. Initiated in 2007 by a group of predominantly Mexican families, residents were assisted by a number of non-profit organizations from outside the community. In describing the events leading up to and surrounding the establishment of the BLC the authors seek to meet three research objectives: a) Shed light on the emerging and under-researched phenomenon of predominantly Latino mobile home communities in the mountains of Southern/Central Appalachia; b) Consider the efficacy of social models of home ownership in preventing displacement of mobile home residents in this region; and c) Explore similarities between development of Latino MHCs in Appalachia and colonia housing developments along the U.S./Mexico border region. We do so for the purpose of determining whether lessons learned from the colonia experience could have been, or might still be, useful to those concerned with displacement of residents in predominantly Latino MHCs in Southern/Central Appalachia or elsewhere.