Don't destroy symbiotic relationship

March 17, 2013

Comments have been made to my recent letters about manufactured housing problems. I do not rant, I do not rave, but I do tell the truth, and I do tell it with "passion." Nevertheless, whether my passion is recognized, it remains until these issues are resolved.

People who are property rights advocates keep seeing this situation from a narrow point of view. It is a business deal; too bad if you don't like how it is turning out, you are stuck, is what they say. I say it is much more than business - it about people. Below is how I see it.

A symbiotic relationship in nature is defined as one where the a "host" and a "parasite" co-exist to the mutual benefit of both. This relationship is throughout nature and also enters in to the business world.  It is the relationship that has allowed millions of people to own their own homes while not owning the land they rest on.  For various reasons, some people do not wish to own land; perhaps it is too expensive for them or perhaps they are getting older and simply want to downsize their living arrangements.

It is a relationship that has continued to expand, in part due to it's affordability for much better affordable living conditions.  A manufactured home allows the homeowner a much more accommodating lifestyle, much more space than an apartment, a choice of neighbors, no more paper-thin walls to hear the neighbors who live next to you, no expensive condo fees over which you have little control and more of a community lifestyle where neighbors actually know each other. And it has worked for decades.

The landowners made excellent profits after the original infrastructure was put in and the homeowners understood that reasonable rent increases were to be expected and planned for as in any rental situation.  In this scenario, the homeowners are the "hosts" and the landowners are the "parasites," and sometimes, it is the parasite who may eventually kill the host.  This happens when the parasite gets too hungry, too greedy, and ends up destroying the very host that has fed it over time. When this perfectly harmonious relationship has its balance destroyed, both are doomed.

Manufactured homeowners and community landowners have survived all across this nation by maintaining the balance.  In Delaware, due to the land bubble blowup in 2005 and 2006, the balance has been disrupted. Inflated land values dropped and the "parasite" needed more to replace their economic losses so they raised their rents and continue to raise them and they are choking the "hosts," who have their own economic problems as costs for everything for them are also rising.

The relationship is in danger because we each need each other to continue to prosper and thrive. This is one of the last, non-government subsidized but still affordable housing solutions in existence today.  It is viable, it can survive, but only if the "host" and the "parasite" work together to resolve the problems.  It is not a one-sided problem, and remember it is a unique business arrangement because it is not just numbers in an accounting book, but people's homes, their shelters, their lives and their version of the American Dream.

I ask the legislators to remember that, and the community owners to realize that and make the effort to resolve the problems that may destroy this symbiotic relationship which will affect tens of thousands of homeowners who call Delaware home. Read the legislation brought before you, understand its purpose and the need to restore the balance and think.

The future of many peoples' lives is in your hands.

Dorothy Boucher

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