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Jennyffer Barrientos

Mobile home rehabilitation project seeks support

By JENNYFFER BARRIENTOS Guest Columnist

Feb 7, 2023 Updated Feb 10, 2023

Christmas weekend four Rice County families experienced emergencies related to frozen water pipes, one of which ended up bursting. Fortunately, the Mobile Home Rehabilitation Project (MHRP) assisted the families in identifying and arranging for repairs, as well as coordinating with insurance to cover the costs.

Without access to the MHRP, these families may have been without water and ultimately without housing during the holidays.

The MHRP serves mobile home residents who live within the boundaries of the Faribault or Northfield school districts and are from low-income households, and it prioritizes families with young children.

First, a home receives an assessment to determine the extent of the concerns, and how issues may interact with each other. Since the project’s launch in May 2022, 36 home assessments have been completed; six assessments are in process; and more than 20 other homes received immediate repairs.

Next, homes are made more energy efficient through the application of heat tape over the water pipes, and windows are weatherized. Since last spring, 23 homes have had heat tape corrections or additions.

Why is the MHRP needed in Rice County?

Low-income families often can only find affordable housing in mobile home parks, and mobile homes have complex maintenance issues not found in traditional apartments. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, today’s manufactured homes have an average life expectancy of 30-55 years.

Currently there are 660 mobile homes in Faribault and Northfield with an average age of 40 years, and about 580 children and youth live in these homes. Due to weather conditions and lack of appropriate maintenance over their lifespan, many homes need major repairs to continue to be safe for habitation.

Residents sometimes do not own the mobile homes, or lack the capital necessary to complete repairs. They face challenges such as frozen pipes, high energy bills, difficulty sourcing specialized appliances/windows/furnishings sized for compact living areas, competing demands from city permitting and mobile home park managers, complex paperwork for program support, language barriers, and a lack of licensed/insured contractors willing to work on mobile homes.

How can you help?

Although weatherization program funding may be available for some residents, Growing Up Healthy is struggling to find licensed contractors willing to engage in this work. Contractors are often reluctant to complete work on mobile homes due to lack of understanding of what all the structural concerns may be in a given mobile home.

Please spread the word to licensed contractors you know who might be interested. They can email gro.evitaitiniytinummocyhtlaeh@nej or gro.evitaitiniytinummocyhtlaeh@baheremohelibom.

We are grateful to all the partners involved in this project: the cities of Northfield and Faribault, Clean Energy Resource Teams, Community Action Center, Faribault Fire Chief Dustin Dienst, First English Lutheran Church, Hosanna Church, Justice40 Accelerator (national partner), Rice County Family Services Collaborative, Rice County Habitat for Humanity, Rice County Housing, Rice County YouthBuild, Slipstream, Three Rivers Community Action, Xcel Energy Partners in Energy, Growing Up Healthy, and Healthy Community Initiative.

For more information, visit growinguphealthy.org/home-energy. To donate to the mobile home community fund, visit communityactioncenter.org/housing.

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