Halfway homeowners : geospatial and ethnographic analysis of eviction in mobile home parks
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Manufactured housing, which houses approximately 22 million Americans, is a material expression of a fundamental shift in U.S. housing policy from the federal allocation to the for-profit development of low-income housing. These policies have contributed to the explosive growth of manufactured housing, now the single largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing in the U.S. Yet, because the majority of manufactured housing is installed in privately operated land-lease parks, the insecurity inherent in much low-income housing is especially tangible in mobile home parks, where residents can be forcibly evicted at any time. To date, no systematic studies locate or examine the socio-spatial characteristics of the turnover and displacement that result from the frequent closure of mobile home parks. To better understand manufactured housing insecurity specifically and forced residential relocation more generally, this mixed-method dissertation utilizes both geospatial analysis and two years of ethnographic research living full time within closing mobile home parks in Florida and Texas where whole communities, hundreds of households, are evicted en masse. Utilizing geographic information systems (GIS) analysis I first construct a geospatial solution to locating formerly unrecorded mobile home park closures and map the location and socio-spatial characteristics of closed parks. I then conduct ethnography within closing mobile home parks, focusing on the household level impacts of eviction, the community-wide responses to displacement, and the particular ways state regulations are enacted and public-private partnerships are formed to relocate residents under different regulatory regimes. I analyze the mechanisms through which local contexts and state-level policies determine the options, resources, and timelines available to the evicted and thus shape the contours of their forced mobility.