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Reclaiming “Redneck” Urbanism: What Urban Planners Can Learn From Trailer Parks

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Reclaiming “Redneck” Urbanism: What Urban Planners Can Learn From Trailer Parks

http://marketurbanism.com/2016/04/21/reclaiming-redneck-urbanism-what-urban-planners-can-learn-from-trailer-parks/

Given that “redneck” and “hillbilly” remain the last acceptable stereotypes among polite society, it isn’t surprising that the stereotypical urban home of poor, recently rural whites remains an object of scorn.

The mere mention of a trailer park conjures images of criminals in wifebeaters, moldy mattresses thrown awry, and Confederate flags. As with most social phenomena, there is a much more interesting reality behind this crass cliché.

Trailer parks remain one of the last forms of housing in US cities provided by the market explicitly for low-income residents. Better still, they offer a working example of traditional urban design elements and private governance.

Any discussion of trailer parks should start with the fact that most forms of low-income housing have been criminalized in nearly every major US city. Beginning in the 1920s, urban policymakers and planners started banning what they deemed as low-quality housing, including boarding houses, residential hotels, and low-quality apartments.

Meanwhile, on the outer edges of many cities, urban policymakers undertook a policy of “mass eviction and demolition” of low-quality housing. Policymakers established bans on suburban shantytowns and self-built housing.

In knocking out the bottom rung of urbanization, this ended the natural “filtering up” of cities as they expanded outward, replaced as we now know by static subdivisions of middle-class, single-family houses.

The Housing Act of 1937 formalized this war on “slums” at the federal level and by the 1960s much of the emergent low-income urbanism in and around many U.S. cities was eliminated.

In light of the United States’ century-long war on low-income housing, it’s something of a miracle that trailer parks survive. With an aftermarket trailer, trailer payments and park rent combined average around the remarkably low rents of $300 to $500.

Even the typical new manufactured home, with combined trailer payments and park rent, costs around $700 to $1,000 a month. Both options offer a decent standard of living at far less than rents for apartments of comparable size in many cities. The savings with manufactured housing are a big part of the story: where the average manufactured house costs $64,000, the average site-built single-family house now costs $324,000.

The savings don’t come out of shoddy construction either: manufactured homes are increasingly energy efficient, and their manufacturing process produces less waste than traditional site-built construction. With prosperous cities increasingly turning into playgrounds of the rich due to onerous housing supply restrictions, we shouldn’t take these startlingly affordable rents lightly......

......

Besides revealing a natural acceptance of traditional urban design, trailer parks also illustrate the capacity for low-income communities to engage in private governance. Compared to many low-income neighborhoods, trailer parks are often fairly clean and relatively safe. How could this be?
The answer lies in the exchange at the heart of a trailer park: a trailer owner pays rent not only for a slice of land in an apparently desirable location but also for a kind of club good known as “private governance.” Edward Stringham describes the concept as “the various forms of private enforcement, self-governance, or self-regulation among private groups or individuals that fill a void that government enforcement cannot.” The park management provides order within the park, upholding certain basic standards on cleanliness and maintenance while also dealing with unwanted visitors and settling disputes among neighbors.
...Although costly to move, the mobile nature of the homes allows residents to shop around for governance amenities, punishing incompetent park managers by leaving and rewarding competent park managers by moving in. Residents can shop around for other lifestyle preferences, including parks restricted to retirees or parks managed to be family friendly. While many see the purported incompetence of low-income families as a justification for paternalistic policies—including the above mentioned bans on low-quality housing­—the success of private governance in trailer parks speaks to the potential of emergent social orders to address shared ills. .......
Edited by Saving For a Space Ship

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Middlesbrough/Stockton is top.

You try visiting - its vibrant!

First thing i'd do if I was PM would be to go on a spending spree across europe buying all those 2nd hand static caravans you see on gumtree for a grand or two.

Site them on disused airfields around british cities, and declare the end of all housing benefit payments.

No one would be homeless. Some would temporarily live in static caravans, rents would drop to a level for those who contributed something along with HB to their rents, and for the remainder the £25billion annual cost of HB would be spent on social housing stock over the next 5 years.

I'd love to see the look on all those landlords faces. The complete removal of housing benefit in one swoop. Rent seeking is bad enough in general economics. When its subsidized by government, it is unconscionable.

Oh, and id also introduce debtors prisons for those owing/defaulting on over a million.

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First thing i'd do if I was PM would be to go on a spending spree across europe buying all those 2nd hand static caravans you see on gumtree for a grand or two.

Site them on disused airfields around british cities, and declare the end of all housing benefit payments.

No one would be homeless. Some would temporarily live in static caravans, rents would drop to a level for those who contributed something along with HB to their rents, and for the remainder the £25billion annual cost of HB would be spent on social housing stock over the next 5 years.

I'd love to see the look on all those landlords faces. The complete removal of housing benefit in one swoop. Rent seeking is bad enough in general economics. When its subsidized by government, it is unconscionable.

Oh, and id also introduce debtors prisons for those owing/defaulting on over a million.

Isn;t it something like 50% of people in work who claim housing benefit?

Bit much to expect them to live like doasyoulikeys when simply changing planning laws would enable them to build and own a house and slash the HB bill.

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Isn;t it something like 50% of people in work who claim housing benefit?

Bit much to expect them to live like doasyoulikeys when simply changing planning laws would enable them to build and own a house and slash the HB bill.

Hence why I said those who pay some contribution towards their rent (ie those who work) would likely be able to stay in their rented accomodation as rents are forced down, and why, for those who dont, social housing would be built over the next 5 years for those in caravans to move into.

Longer term, I would hope some would be able to build their own homes. But for a market in need of shock therapy, instant change is needed. I must have my caravans.

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Hence why I said those who pay some contribution towards their rent (ie those who work) would likely be able to stay in their rented accomodation as rents are forced down, and why, for those who dont, social housing would be built over the next 5 years for those in caravans to move into.

Longer term, I would hope some would be able to build their own homes. But for a market in need of shock therapy, instant change is needed. I must have my caravans.

But you'd have to put many millions of caravans on some ones land, so landowner friends of the LIBLABCON party would win in the end.

Raise interest rates, and for the state and councils to keep the hell out of the market would be a better way of slashing HB.

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Isn;t it something like 50% of people in work who claim housing benefit?

Bit much to expect them to live like doasyoulikeys when simply changing planning laws would enable them to build and own a house and slash the HB bill.

Hence why I said those who pay some contribution towards their rent (ie those who work) would likely be able to stay in their rented accomodation as rents are forced down, and why, for those who dont, social housing would be built over the next 5 years for those in caravans to move into.

Longer term, I would hope some would be able to build their own homes. But for a market in need of shock therapy, instant change is needed. I must have my caravans.

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I've said many times the solution to the so-called housing crisis is for councils to provide hardstanding and utilities and charge ground rent for people to live on it in caravans. They can do this for gypsies for free, so I'm sure they can manage it for people who actually work for a living and pay rent. Water-based versions could also be constructed for narrow boats.

They won't do it, of course, because they are in the pockets of volume housebuilders and are stuck in a 1940s mindset that thinks everyone should live in a suburban semi.

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...declare the end of all housing benefit payments.

You don't need all the caravans. Just increase benefits, TCs, tax thresholds an equal amount. In first year there would be no dramatic change, but gradually the incentive to spend less on property would have its effect.

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First thing i'd do if I was PM would be to go on a spending spree across europe buying all those 2nd hand static caravans you see on gumtree for a grand or two.

Site them on disused airfields around british cities, and declare the end of all housing benefit payments.

No one would be homeless. Some would temporarily live in static caravans, rents would drop to a level for those who contributed something along with HB to their rents, and for the remainder the £25billion annual cost of HB would be spent on social housing stock over the next 5 years.

I'd love to see the look on all those landlords faces. The complete removal of housing benefit in one swoop. Rent seeking is bad enough in general economics. When its subsidized by government, it is unconscionable.

Oh, and id also introduce debtors prisons for those owing/defaulting on over a million.

I like it.

Whatever practical objections other posters might have, I'd vote you in on the underlying principal alone.

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But you'd have to put many millions of caravans on some ones land, so landowner friends of the LIBLABCON party would win in the end.

Raise interest rates, and for the state and councils to keep the hell out of the market would be a better way of slashing HB.

Doesn't have to be privately owned land (in the more traditional sense):

Government owned land (e.g. MOD sites)

Crown estate land even though it's a corporation (but also the stuff "owned" by the biggest benefits scrounger of the lot)

Local government owned land (they often own stuff like farms)

Charity owned land (as a requirement for being listed as a charity so stuff owned by "charities" like Eton)

Church land (even though I think they might be listed as charities)

Duchy of Cornwall land

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Doesn't have to be privately owned land (in the more traditional sense):

Government owned land (e.g. MOD sites)

Crown estate land even though it's a corporation (but also the stuff "owned" by the biggest benefits scrounger of the lot)

Local government owned land (they often own stuff like farms)

Charity owned land (as a requirement for being listed as a charity so stuff owned by "charities" like Eton)

Church land (even though I think they might be listed as charities)

Duchy of Cornwall land

I've tried buying land off the Diocese of Winchester just after they were telling us all to let in all the immigrants, i informed them that the amount i'd give them (100K) would be enough to build a large house to house several immigrants.

Needless to say i got absolutely nowhere with the organisation that aides kiddie fiddlers.

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But you'd have to put many millions of caravans on some ones land, so landowner friends of the LIBLABCON party would win in the end.

Raise interest rates, and for the state and councils to keep the hell out of the market would be a better way of slashing HB.

hohoho. Do you have any idea how much land local authorities and other govt entities own? Clue, its a lot!

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First thing i'd do if I was PM would be to go on a spending spree across europe buying all those 2nd hand static caravans you see on gumtree for a grand or two.

Site them on disused airfields around british cities, and declare the end of all housing benefit payments.

No one would be homeless. Some would temporarily live in static caravans, rents would drop to a level for those who contributed something along with HB to their rents, and for the remainder the £25billion annual cost of HB would be spent on social housing stock over the next 5 years.

I'd love to see the look on all those landlords faces. The complete removal of housing benefit in one swoop. Rent seeking is bad enough in general economics. When its subsidized by government, it is unconscionable.

Oh, and id also introduce debtors prisons for those owing/defaulting on over a million.

Brilliant idea. At first, I thought you were joking - but reading all of it - it actually makes sense. Of course, status-quo beneficiaries would hate such an idea. Permanently unemployeds MUST have their 3-bed semi paid for at the extortionate market rate. No way can we have any kind of long-term thinking that would actually REDUCE the market rate. So many VIs to battle with when you come up with a common sense solution.

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Someone has mentioned this in passing, but any site for mobile homes has to have utilities. People need light and heat (mobile homes are bally cold, very few are well insulated - been there) and fuel for cooking, they need water, they need sewerage, unless you want cholera to make a comeback.

All of this requires money and the co-operation of the privatised utility companies.

Read up on utilities on US trailer parks and UK traveller sites.

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Someone has mentioned this in passing, but any site for mobile homes has to have utilities. People need light and heat (mobile homes are bally cold, very few are well insulated - been there) and fuel for cooking, they need water, they need sewerage, unless you want cholera to make a comeback.

All of this requires money and the co-operation of the privatised utility companies.

Read up on utilities on US trailer parks and UK traveller sites.

And it's a faff.

I wonder if a better bet would be to suspend s21 retrospectively, force tenancies to auto renew and delay housing benefit payments for a while before reducing them significantly.

The problem that needs to be solved is that housing benefit was one a ratchet that slowly increased market rents and is still a crutch that will always keep rents are current levels (unless a local economic shock appears as in Aberdeen)... The question is how do you provide such a shock without harming those living in the properties...

Edited by eek

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Someone has mentioned this in passing, but any site for mobile homes has to have utilities. People need light and heat (mobile homes are bally cold, very few are well insulated - been there) and fuel for cooking, they need water, they need sewerage, unless you want cholera to make a comeback.

All of this requires money and the co-operation of the privatised utility companies.

Read up on utilities on US trailer parks and UK traveller sites.

Of course - but that's a glass half empty objection.

Compared to planning and procuring permanent housing this would be way fast and way cheap. And way way disruptive to the existing hpi status quo which is the main point.

Location and jobs is the real challenge. Personally Id put them where houses might end up anyway and actually spend more on the infrastructure than you'd strictly need.

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Shipping container homes, moved around by driverless lorries.

The model is already here, and it works.. narrowboat marinas.

You rent your place on the container park in the same way as you rent a mooring on a marina. By the day / week / month or whatever. Add plug-in electricity, with plug in water / sewage at the more upmarket parks. The more basic container parks will provide taps and Elsan points or sewage, just as marinas do.

It would be a cheaper way to own your own home, and flexible. You can move to a new city for a job and take your home with you.

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No need to go to Europe to buy caravans. Prefabs are a tried and tested design. My gran had one and she loved it. Well insulated and even had a built in fridge.

Once CI comes, (much cheaper than forever inventing non jobs in the public sector,) there will be no more housing benefit.

Rents and house prices will fall to lower than what even HPCers would consider reasonable as all the non earners will be looking to share accommodation making rents fall like a stone. Almost every non earner I know lives alone. All but one of the earners I know gets some HB.

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I forgot to reply to this thread

Shipping container homes, moved around by driverless lorries.

The model is already here, and it works.. narrowboat marinas.

You rent your place on the container park in the same way as you rent a mooring on a marina. By the day / week / month or whatever. Add plug-in electricity, with plug in water / sewage at the more upmarket parks. The more basic container parks will provide taps and Elsan points or sewage, just as marinas do.

It would be a cheaper way to own your own home, and flexible. You can move to a new city for a job and take your home with you.

Rental fees would have to be controlled. Look at tool hire, a few corporations take control & charge a fortune for the service

No need to go to Europe to buy caravans. Prefabs are a tried and tested design. My gran had one and she loved it. Well insulated and even had a built in fridge.

Once CI comes, (much cheaper than forever inventing non jobs in the public sector,) there will be no more housing benefit.

Rents and house prices will fall to lower than what even HPCers would consider reasonable as all the non earners will be looking to share accommodation making rents fall like a stone. Almost every non earner I know lives alone. All but one of the earners I know gets some HB.


First thing i'd do if I was PM would be to go on a spending spree across europe buying all those 2nd hand static caravans you see on gumtree for a grand or two.

Site them on disused airfields around british cities, and declare the end of all housing benefit payments.

No one would be homeless. Some would temporarily live in static caravans, rents would drop to a level for those who contributed something along with HB to their rents, and for the remainder the £25billion annual cost of HB would be spent on social housing stock over the next 5 years.

I'd love to see the look on all those landlords faces. The complete removal of housing benefit in one swoop. Rent seeking is bad enough in general economics. When its subsidized by government, it is unconscionable.

Oh, and id also introduce debtors prisons for those owing/defaulting on over a million.

I imagine the price of static caravans would rise dramatically with such demand

I've said many times the solution to the so-called housing crisis is for councils to provide hardstanding and utilities and charge ground rent for people to live on it in caravans. They can do this for gypsies for free, so I'm sure they can manage it for people who actually work for a living and pay rent. Water-based versions could also be constructed for narrow boats.

They won't do it, of course, because they are in the pockets of volume housebuilders and are stuck in a 1940s mindset that thinks everyone should live in a suburban semi.

I have an alternative suggestion to static caravans & containers, as I have been researching this area. . After a chat with a building pro, I recently found out that metal skinned PIR rigid foam sandwich panels (like kingspan) don't always need a frame, if only one or 2 stories.

A storage unit went up 8m without a frame. I think the panels sit in a channel like some SIPS panels

Therefore, comparatively cheap buildings could be made using these panels, that could be dismantled & transported flat more cheaply than shipping containers.

Shipping containers have to be insulated & / or clad anyway, so its more efficient to make them from the insulation itself. For those who don't like the industrial look , wood cladding could be added

The tenants could have a say in the internal design, and some re-use of materials to further reduce cost could be implemented.

The government would basically have to fund a sandwich panel factory, as they are cheap to make, and industry currently charge too much.

A composite door is a similar foam filled grp / plastic panel

Shipping containers could be used as lower floors if the height was to raised .

Edited by Saving For a Space Ship

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