Bev Adrian, a retired career placement counselor for people with disabilities, lives in Woodlawn Terrace, a mobile home park just outside Minneapolis, Minnesota. The nearby streets are full of bustling local commerce — a Sota Boys Smoke Shop, a Pump N Munch Gas — but Woodlawn is a quiet park tucked away under maples and pines. Adrian moved there four years ago, coincidentally right as Woodlawn’s owner was looking to sell. Woodlawn’s landlord was well liked, but for years Woodlawn’s residents had been hearing rumors about possible sales to much less friendly owners. 

“People lived here in fear,” Adrian says, “because these places are just swallowed up.”

Mobile home parks, also known as trailer parkers, are officially and more accurately called manufactured housing parks. Prefab homes are substantial constructions; once placed in a park, more than 80 percent of them are never moved. In these parks, residents own their homes but pay rent to landlords who own the land and its infrastructure (like water and gas hookups).

Over the last decade, private investors have discovered one very simple thing: owning a manufactured housing park is an incredibly lucrative thing to do. Now, throughout the country, local landlords are making way for out-of-state owners notorious for jacking up rents while letting conditions deteriorate. 

But Adrian knew about a nonprofit group called ROC USA that helped manufactured housing residents buy their own parks. So she set about facilitating a sale — to Woodlawn’s own people.