Preservationist and landscape architect Eduard Krakhmalnikov thinks mobile home parks are overlooked in the national conversation on affordable housing. There are currently about 40,000 mobile home parks exist across the United States.

In this CityLab Q+A with Krakhmalnikov and Carson Bear, Editorial Assistant at the National Trust, Krakhmalnikov discusses his case for preserving mobile homes, the significant role mobile home parks played in United States history, and explains why they are endangered.

Do you think that mobile home parks have a place in our current housing discussions?
We talk about affordable housing all the time, as we should, but we never talk about mobile homes or mobile home parks—even though they’re primarily used as affordable housing. When we talk about affordable housing and historic homes as preservationists, we really need to start including mobile home parks in those discussions. They fill a critical gap [in housing opportunities], but they’re also endangered.

Why are they endangered?
[Since most mobile home parks are privately owned], they become too expensive to maintain. To keep them affordable, their original infrastructure usually remains in place while their owners [find temporary solutions for repairs] until the entire mobile home park needs to be replaced. They’re sold off because it’s just too expensive to maintain and the owner is no longer making a profit; these are private places and businesses, and that is a legitimate concern.

What else should we do to ensure their longevity?
I think we should engage with the people who live there. 20 million people live in mobile homes, and about a quarter of them live in mobile home parks. If you put all mobile home parks together, that would create a city three times the size of Detroit. The more we can open people’s eyes to how important these places are, the more we can engage with the people who live there. Their voices should be heard just as much as any homeowner. It’s a massive opportunity.

Continue reading the interview at CityLab.

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