CSTPR Noontime Seminar
The socio-spatial dimensions of disaster risk in mobile home parks: Learning from the 2013 Colorado floods by Andrew Rumbach and Esther Sullivan, University of Colorado Denver
This talk will be available via webcast here.
Mobile home parks are an important source of affordable housing for millions of U.S. households. Mobile home parks are frequently exposed to floods, storms, and other natural hazards, so much that researchers use them as an indicator of vulnerability in the built environment. While numerous studies have documented the physical vulnerability of mobile home parks, disaster researchers have a limited understanding of the socio-spatial dimensions of risk in such communities. In this talk, we examine the unique contribution of mobile home parks to disaster risk through a detailed study of the 2013 Colorado floods. The floods destroyed over 450 mobile homes and permanently displaced thousands of people from their communities. Drawing on data collected through household surveys, semi-structured interviews with recovery officials, and observation of recovery planning meetings, we describe four socio-spatial dimensions of risk in mobile home parks: concentrated vulnerability, divided asset ownership, restrictive or exclusionary planning, and community bias. Our analysis reveals tensions between growth, housing affordability, and community resilience, an important consideration for community planners and disaster management officials. We conclude by describing policy and planning interventions that might mitigate risk and improve recovery outcomes for mobile home park residents and owners.
Andrew Rumbach is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Planning and Design at the University of Colorado Denver. His research centers on community risk and resilience to natural hazards and climate change, in the United States and India. He is especially interested in how planning and urban governance shapes the geographies of risk and resilience in cities. His current research projects include a longitudinal study of household and community recovery after the 2013 Colorado floods; an examination of the role of collaborative networks in protecting historic resources from environmental hazards; and a study of small cities and environmental risk in the Darjeeling-Sikkim region of eastern India. Rumbach holds a doctorate and a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University and a bachelor’s in Political Science from Reed College.
Esther Sullivan is an urban sociologist and Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Denver. Her research focuses on poverty, spatial inequality, legal regulation, housing, and the built environment, with a special interest in both forced and voluntary residential mobility. Her research uses both ethnographic methods and geospatial (GIS) analysis. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from The University of Texas at Austin. Her current book project Manufactured Insecurity: Mobile Home Park Evictions and Americans' Tenuous Right to Place (August 2018, University of California Press) is a mixed-method look at the mass evictions that result when mobile home parks close. Living full time inside closing mobile home parks across Texas and Florida, the project examines the effects of forced relocation on individuals and communities, as well as the operation of markets that profit off the low-income housing found in mobile home parks.