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John Oliver Slams The Investors Who Made Mobile Homes Unaffordable

John Oliver takes on the market forces that are destroying the last affordable housing option in America.

I was so happy to see John Oliver put a spotlight on mobile home owners and how they're being screwed. The late Joe Bageant, author of Deer Hunting With Jesus, already pointed out the predatory lending practices that take advantage of people with no other options. Via The Week:

"The rise of big-money investors in mobile homes has led to a corresponding spike in rents, fees," and other costs, Oliver said. High-interest financing by leading manufactured-home seller Clayton Homes, controlled by Warren Buffett but advertised by Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson, is one reason mobile homes are a great investment for big investors, and a lousy one for buyers, Oliver said, but it's not the only reason.

About a third of mobile home dwellers own their house but not the land it sits on, and the large investors snapping up mobile home parks tend to jack up rents or tear down the parks. In fact, 80 percent of mobile homes never move, Oliver said, "and this lack of mobility for tenants is actually part of the attraction for big investors," some of whom are openly "cynical and predatory" about their motives — Oliver singled out one man.

One solution is for residents of mobile home parks to band together and buy their own park, and some nonprofits facilitate this process. But everyone needs to know the potentially "financially catastrophic" risk of buying a mobile home on land you don't own, Oliver said. He helped out by making an ad, starring The Good Place's Janet (D'Arcy Carden) as an unsatisfied customer. There is NSFW language sprinkled throughout.

As Oliver points out, they're worthless as investments for the people who live in them unless you own the land it sits on. They depreciate rapidly, and are often made with shoddy materials. Where I live, they're most popular as vacation homes near the beach -- but again, the rapidly rising park rents are making them an option only for people who probably don't want to live in a mobile home park.

Isn't the free market great?

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