EXCLUSIVE: An estimated 20 million Americans live in mobile home parks, according to U.S. Census figures. For many, it’s the best and perhaps only way of achieving the American Dream of home ownership.
But this way of life is endangered by a new trend – Wall Street investors and multi-billionaire Warren Buffett gaining control of the market and driving up costs to the point where many trailer parks residents can no longer afford to live there. The new documentary A Decent Home explores stories of ordinary Americans in danger of losing control of their destinies, but who are doing all they can to avoid being driven from their dwellings.
The challenge for many people living in mobile home parks is that while they may own their trailer they typically don’t own the land it sits on; they pay rent on it. Director Sara Terry shot in trailer parks across the country, including Denver Meadows in Aurora, Colorado, “where residents fight to save their low-income park from being shut down by an owner who wants to re-zone the land and sell it for millions.”
In Golfview Mobile Home Park, in North Liberty, Iowa, Terry discovered “residents, local politicians and the Teamsters are fighting back against a Utah-based private equity firm that is buying up parks across Iowa, and jacking up lot rentals by 50 to 60 percent.”
In the trailer for the film, one park resident says, “I found a letter taped to my door that said our rent would be increasing by 63 percent.” Another resident, a disabled man, says of the cost increases he faced, “My whole world just kind of came crashing down.”
In a director’s statement, Terry expressed outrage over the situation. “[W]e need to question who on earth are we becoming as Americans when housing that is on the very lowest rung of the American Dream is being bought up by the wealthiest of the wealthy seeking to make outrageous returns on their investments,” she wrote. “When are the rich rich enough? Whose dream are we serving?”
Gravitas Ventures is releasing A Decent Home, which will become available Tuesday, October 25 on VOD platforms including iTunes/Apple TV, Google Play, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu and YouTube. The documentary will become available the same day on cable and satellite TV on demand services, including Comcast, Spectrum, Cox, Verizon and DirecTV.
Sara Terry directed and co-wrote the film. Victoria Chalk is the editor and co-writer. Producers are Sara Archambault, Alysa Nahmias, and Terry. Gretchen Landau is the co-producer; James Costa serves as executive producer.
“A Decent Home is a character-rich, feature-length documentary about the uniquely American phenomenon of mobile home parks, and the nation’s critical affordable housing crisis,” according to a summary of the documentary. “The film examines urgent issues of class and economic (im)mobility – the growing flaws of a faltering system and a widening wealth gap – through the lives of residents in mobile home parks across the country…”
Watch the trailer above.