Contact7: Holding public officials accountable for mobile homeowners

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- "One way or another I will have a role in this," said Senator John Kefalas.

Senator Kefalas has seen firsthand the predatory practices in mobile home parks exposed by Contact7.

He also understands the important role manufactured homes play in providing affordable housing. 

"Mobile home parks, manufactured housing, is a type of safety affordable housing that is unsubsidized and that is at risk," Kefalas told Denver7's Theresa Marchetta.

Kefalas has been going to bat for mobile homeowners in the state legislature ever since a park closed in his senate district five years ago.

Eighty homes in Fort Collins, filled with families forced to find somewhere else to go.

"It's been hard to convince both sides of the aisle the need to do protections or the need to do better enforcement of, for example, state law. The Mobile Home Park Act," Kefalas said.

That state law does mandate that changes to the leases for the land a mobile home sits on "cannot be arbitrary" and "must serve a purpose to protect the safety and welfare of the community."

But Colorado does not enforce it. That is one of Kefalas' frustrations.   

Every year since 2014, he has sponsored legislation to change that. Each effort has so far fallen short.

"How do we create a better enforcment mechanism for the laws currently on the books?" Kefalas asked.

That is the multi-million dollar question companies like Kingsley Management hope legislators never answer.

Most recently, the company told residents at their seven Colorado parks to rip out their fences or face fees and eviction.

It is a fenceless policy that has already resulted in one dog's death.

Both Kingsley Management and their on-site employees have refused to answer Contact7's questions about the predatory towing practices, arbitrary lot rent hikes, eviction threats and other questionable enforcements residents experience.

"The private providers hold all the cards and the residents are left living at their whim," said University of Colorado Sociologist Esther Sullivan.

Sullivan spent eight years living in, and researching, the impacts of mobile home parks.

She said lawmakers who look the other way as landowners wring profits from low-income families have a sobering wake-up call coming.

"If we lose these residences, there is no place that can afford them at that level of affordability," Sullivan said.

Public officials in Adams County told Contact7 they were powerless to help.

But, the City of Boulder passed a law last fall protecting mobile home owners from the retaliation residents reported at places like Friendly Village.

Broomfield officials committed to taking action in April after mobile home residents went to the city council about another of Kingsley Management's parks.

The Aurora City Council unanimously approved a ten-month moratorium on mobile home park redevelopment so they can get a handle on the potential impact.

One of Senator Kefalas's bills did finally make it to the Governor's desk at the end of this session.

House Bill 1315 makes buying a manufactured home more affordable by exempting the purchase from state sales and use tax.

It does not solve the on-site problems Contact7 continues to document at mobile home parks in Colorado, but it is a start.

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