Trailer Park Nation: An OZY Video Portrait of a Family
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
The Richmonds are three faces in 20 million.
By Charlotte Buchen
They may be called mobile homes, but to many living in them they are anything but.
Those who live in mobile homes are paradoxically immobile. Like Ken Richmond, a 57-year-old former truck driver residing in Pine Haven, a soon-to-be-evicted trailer park near Lake Charles, Louisiana. He has lived in a mobile home his whole life. Same with his 30-year-old son, John. Same with his 10-year-old granddaughter, Allie. Three generations with no brick-and-mortar. Three generations hoping to get out.
According to a recent study by the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a nonprofit working on economic equality, some 67 percent of manufactured-housing residents possess a high school diploma or less. Which is just one of many statistics that tell you what you may already suspect: Living in a trailer park is often part of a cycle of self-perpetuating inequality. And it just keeps getting more expensive. Every year of dwelling in a mobile home is a year of that home depreciating. That same study found that although manufactured homes cost, on average, half as much as their site-built counterparts, their median net worth is just about a quarter of the site-built.
Such numbers aren’t on the minds of the Richmond family, though. What they’re thinking about: making a new home, on their own terms.
Shannon Sims contributed to this story.