Rep. Axne Unveils Bill to Keep Manufactured Housing Communities Affordable

January 7, 2020
Press Release
Legislation creates grant program to help mobile home residents, like those in Waukee, avoid crippling rent hikes

WASHINGTON D.C. — Today, Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) introduced legislation to keep manufactured housing communities (MHC) affordable by providing federal assistance for acquiring and preserving these communities. The legislation seeks to help MHC residents like those in Waukee, who last year faced rent hikes at rates up to 70% after purchase by a Utah-based investment firm.

The Manufactured Housing Community Preservation Act directs the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to create a grant program to help nonprofits, resident-formed cooperatives, and other local entities purchase and maintain an MHC through awards of up to $1 million. The legislation includes oversight provisions to ensure rents remain affordable for residents after purchase by grant recipients.

“I met with the residents of Midwest Country Estates in Waukee. I heard their pain after facing astronomical rent increases and the possibility of losing their homes,” said Rep. Axne. “This legislation will protect residents, particularly seniors and fixed-income Iowans living in these mobile home communities, by providing the tools necessary to preserve their affordable housing and protect against corporations spiking their rents merely to line their pockets.”

Last year, Rep. Axne wrote to Utah-based investment firm Havenpark Capital to demand answers on the significant rent spikes at five different Havenpark-owned MHCs, including Midwest Country Estates in Waukee.

Rep. Axne also toured Midwest Country Estates homes with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to meet with residents and hear about the financial hardship and requirements imposed at the community by the new ownership.

“I promised after meeting residents in Waukee that I would find solutions to make housing more affordable for all Iowans,” said Rep. Axne. “This bill will give communities like theirs the financial assistance to help level the playing field with these private equity companies who are more interested in profits than resident wellbeing.”

The bill was introduced today with Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17).

“Every day, manufactured housing and mobile home communities are threatened by redevelopment contractors, aggressive investors, and greedy landlords,” said Rep. Khanna. “It is time for the federal government to step in and commit to preserving manufactured housing alongside the tremendous work of nonprofits and resident groups. This level of preservation will be a low-cost, effective tool to help ensure every family in Silicon Valley can become homeowners.”

The new legislation earned the endorsement of Prosperity Now, a nonprofit that works to expand economic opportunity for low-income communities across the United States.

“This bill, which would mark the first meaningful federal commitment to community preservation, is very much needed,” said Prosperity Now in a statement. “Since 2005, Prosperity Now has worked to improve the opportunities and asset-building potential of manufactured and mobile home community residents. We thank Rep. Axne and Rep. Khanna for their work and commitment to make this happen.”