Let’s begin by stating the obvious: none of us is getting any younger! Given that fact, then how do we want to spend out golden years and what can we do to ensure that our manufactured home and the community in which we reside are built to accommodate our needs as we age?
Apparently 10,000 baby boomers retire every day and that by 2050 the number of people in this country aged 65 years or older will have doubled from the current 40 million to a staggering 80 million individuals.
Given these statistics there is increasing interest across the country in “naturally occurring retirement communities” (NORCS); places where people are already living together in some fashion as they age. Manufactured housing communities might be considered NORCS, especially age-restricted communities where at least 80% of the households are required to have at least one person who is age 55 or older.
However, I suspect that much more could be done to guarantee long-term opportunities for manufactured home owners to remain in their homes and communities for even longer.
For instance, do you have security of tenure? Is the land under your home guaranteed to be there for you or could the land be sold for development giving you very little time to move and possibly even result in the complete loss of the equity you have built in your home since there may be no other location to move it to? Do you have a reasonable and stable rent with some guarantee that rent increases will be fair and justified? Do you have a long-term lease?
Besides security of tenure issues, here are some other things to consider about your community – some of these might be addressed by a community owner who is willing to make accommodations to the structures in the community so that they are accessible to everyone. For instance, is there a ramp so that people who are wheelchair bound may access the clubhouse? Are there curb cuts so that people in wheelchairs can get around the community with ease? Could the clubhouse be used by Meals-on-Wheels so that everyone who wanted it could be provided with a hot midday meal? Could visiting nurses use the clubhouse as a clinic and provide flu shots and blood pressure checks, etc. for everyone at the same time? An economy of scale for the nurses is surely a benefit?
What about your own home? Is it built or could it be customized to universal building standards so that things like showers, toilets, counter surfaces, etc. could all be accessible to people who are wheelchair bound or have other physical restrictions?
There is a lot to think about and I have only touched on a few key provisions in this article. If you would like to know more about how to make your community as NORC friendly as possible please feel free to email me at: ishbel@mhoaa.us or call the NMHOA office at: 206.851.6385.
Ishbel Dickens, Executive Director, National Manufactured Home Owners Association (NMHOA)