Montpelier, VT- A number of Vermont’s mobile home parks were destroyed or damaged in July’s flooding, and Gov. Phil Scott’s administration has agreed to pick up the pieces.
But housing officials say that help has been hard to come by for residents whose mobile home were damaged.
State leaders started to draw up a plan to make mobile homes, one of Vermont’s largest sources of affordable housing, more resilient to natural disasters like flooding.
In mid-August, Gov. Scott announced a plan to ensure mobile homeowners would not have to pay to demolish their homes that may have been destroyed or condemned following the floods.
Scott said that demolishing homes, “can cost thousands of dollars and we wanted to make sure those that lost their homes didn’t need or have the added burden.”
With help from Subaru of New England, that plan has been successful and is still in progress.
Now, the state is turning attention to those who still have their homes but need help. That’s where the state’s Mobile Home Task Force comes into play.
At a hearing on Friday, Shaun Giplin, from the Dept. of Housing and Community Development, said, “The biggest issue we’re seeing is aging infrastructure, aging owners, and difficulty managing the resources that are out there.”
The state says a number of the smaller mobile home parks are struggling to find ownership, leaving individuals fighting for funding, and parks with ownership say they aren’t having success either.
Tim Cook and Gary Nowak run the Williston Woods Housing Cooperative, which features dozens of manufactured homes, and they say their homeowners’ association model has been cost-effective for their members, but it restricts them from getting the necessary funding.
Nowak said, “Our sewer pumps are 12 years old. We’ve applied for stormwater grants and they say we’re ineligible, and we just don’t have the funds to do that.”
Cook said, “We can’t get on the VSHA (Vermont State Housing Authority) manufactured home park registry, and there are funds available for a lot of things there that we can’t qualify for and we don’t understand why.”
The only way to free up these funds for housing associations like Williston Woods is to change the existing law. The chair of the task force, Rep. Curt Taylor (D-Colchester), says the plan is to do just that when the legislative session begins in January.