Affordable housing in decline all over. Report from Tropicana in Florida.

Tropicana. Fort Myers, Florida. Paul Golfinger photo December, 2021.  Visit our site.


Paul Goldfinger, MD      Editor   12/29/21

This cute house is a trailer.  This “trailer park” has about 470 units, and the place is like a village.  Recently the park was sold by the resident owners to a corporation. The new owners bought the land, not the houses.

It is a lovely community in which to live, and about 40% of the residents are year round.  That is a change, and there will also be changes in demographics, the parameters of which remain to be seen.  Tropicana is a gated, over 55 park.  It is expected that new owners might be younger (eg 55 rather than 70 and working rather than retired.)

Note that none of these houses are on wheels. Such communities have amenities such as pools, clubhouses, management, programs, etc.  Tropicana’s new management will be investing $4 million for improvements such as pickle-ball, a new entrance, and subsidies for painting exteriors, landscaping and new siding.

There is a crisis around the country in that many ordinary folks cannot find “affordable housing.”  In Florida there are many such trailer parks, and they have traditionally been viewed as being affordable, but now, as in Tropicana, these accommodations have become too expensive for many, and those who can afford to be here may be unable to find available space.

The “manufactured home” owners are staying put and not moving up to condos, and the prices to purchase such homes are rising quickly.

When a house in Tropicana goes on the market, it is often sold within a day, and the prices for a home can be up to $100,000 and even considerably higher.

Homeowners do not own the land, so they pay “ground rent,” and the rent includes property taxes for land which they do not own.  Such “pass through” taxes are legal, and if the values of the land and homes rise, the taxes and Lee County fees will also rise.

Parks which have been owned by residents, as in Tropicana, are now being snapped up by big money companies such as the  Carlyle Group which bought Tropicana. Carlyle is international and has about $120 billion.

They, like others of their ilk, will be looking to raise rents and to institute new fees such as for garbage pickup.  Murex, our new managers, are tied to Carlyle, and although they are treading lightly now, they will be revealing a heavier footprint down the line. Hopefully their improvements will be a win-win for all.

Fortunately, those who were homeowners when the ownership changed will have their rent increases limited to up to 3% per year.  But new home owners and renters now will be at the mercy of the park owners with respect to future increases.

Meanwhile, take a look at the house above—it is time to dispel the stereotypes about “trailer parks.” Our neighbors are lawyers, dentists, teachers, business owners, educated and retired people from around the country and Canada.

Our garbage will be picked up tomorrow, so the term “trailer trash” takes on new meaning in many ways.


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