The Metropolitan Council voted Wednesday to award nearly $235,000 in a pilot grant to a Corcoran mobile home park as part of a broader effort to protect and preserve affordable housing in the region.
The first-of-its-kind grant will help Maple Hill Estates connect to the regional wastewater system in place of its aging, on-site septic system. In return, the park owners have committed to continuing to operate the property as a mobile home park without “unreasonable lot rent increases.”
The grant comes on the heels of a steady string of mobile home park closures across the metro, where no new parks have been built since 1991. The Met Council estimates that nearly 37,000 people in the region lived in manufactured housing in 2016, representing a significant source of affordable housing, especially for low-income households.
“The region is looking at an affordable housing crisis,” said Met Council Chairwoman Alene Tchourumoff. “This is one way that we can look at trying to be innovative about the crisis.”
Maple Hill Estates is the second largest mobile home park in Hennepin County, where only six parks remain. Half of the county’s mobile home parks have closed since 1991, with Lowry Grove in St. Anthony among the most recent.
“At a time when we can’t even produce enough [affordable housing] for current and future demand, losing any of the existing stock only puts us further behind,” said Jonathan Stanley, a Met Council planning analyst.
Aging infrastructure represents a common challenge for mobile home parks, and connecting to the regional wastewater system can be costly. The pilot grant provides a 50-50 match to help defray the Met Council’s Sewer Availability Charge, a fee that will cost the 189-lot park in Corcoran about $470,000.
“It’s very difficult financially,” said Brad Martens, Corcoran’s city administrator. “This helps that [connection] be able to happen without passing all those costs onto the residents.”
Residents of color make up 40 percent of Maple Hill Estates, compared to 12 percent of Corcoran residents overall, according to the Met Council.
About 500 people live in Maple Hill Estates, which offers families access to good schools and other suburban amenities in the 5,500-population city where the median household income is nearly $100,000. The mobile home park accounts for 78 percent of the city’s affordable housing stock.
“Maple Hill Estates really is one of those opportunities to live in Corcoran when you maybe couldn’t otherwise,” Martens said. “It’s an integral part of Corcoran.”