It is my belief that the misunderstanding and confusion concerning the Fair Housing Amendments caused the breakdown of 55+ senior parks, the mainstay of California’s low and moderate housing. The reason I say this is, I believe if you read the Act (a copy printed here) and consider the standards and conditions requirements of construction for California senior parks they were specifically designated as “housing for older persons”.
When the park owner applied for his Conditional Use Permit he decided what type of park he was going to construct, a senior park, a 55+ park or a family park. California laws granted special construction concessions for senior and 55+ parks, because of the lower occupancy per unit, fewer parking spaces were required, and less wear and tear on the park required to be provided park facilities, and park utility installations. These special concessions intended for housing of older persons were the terms and conditions under which homeowners contracted to place their home investments in the parks.
Older persons had raised their children and 55 + parks provided important housing opportunities for older persons, as per the Act, (2) (C) ( i ). Seniors would have access to making friends of their same age, have their own separate living units, the right to the use of all the significant park required to be provided facilities, attend as many social activities as they wished, help one another if there was ever a physical need, and feel safe.
I believe the misunderstanding and confusion was in the intent of the Act’s (2) (C) ( i i ) At least 80 percent of the units are occupied by at least one person 55 years of age or older per unit. When the 20% margin was established by Congress, it was intended to allow for unique situations such as persons residing in such housing as of the date of enactment, surviving spouses not 55 years old, and inheritance age situations, as long as the total did not exceeded 20% occupancy.
I believe the Act firmly affirmed the park owner’s duty to abide by the intent of the standards and conditions in his Condition Use Permit, to have a 55+ park, as long as (i i i ) the publication of, and adherence to, policies and procedures which demonstrate and intent to provide housing for persons 55 years of age or older. As per ( 3) Housing shall not fail to meet the requirements for housing for older persons by reason of:
Provided, that new occupants of such housing meet the age requirements of the Act.
(B) unoccupied units: Provided, that such units are reserved for occupancy by persons who meet the age requirements of the Act..
I found that because of the misunderstanding, confusion, and lawsuits, many fair housing complaints were accepted before they were proved valid. Many 55 + parks became all-age parks. Seniors who did not have the finances to move to all senior facilities found they were trapped in all-age parks, where there was overcrowding, parking problems, problems because of the additional strain on the utility installations, higher noise level, and more crime causing more police calls..
Knowledge is power. This information may not help now, but I believe it should be known, and if it helps even one person it is worth it. Communities may regain lost 55 + status.
Donna Matthews has been advocating for mobilehome owners for over 25 years. She has much to offer you.
Donna can be reached through Mobilehome Magazine