death due to fever Maricopa County record set in 202340% of those occurred in mobile homes, even though mobile homes make up only 5% of Arizona's housing units.
Spurred by this alarming statistic, the Arizona House of Representatives unanimously approved a measure that would give mobile home residents more freedom in how they cool their homes.
“Protecting these communities and the people who live in them is how we protect and support affordable housing in our communities,” Maxine Becker of Wildfire Arizona told lawmakers. “No one should die from the heat in their own home.”
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ASU researcher Patricia Solis is executive director of Arizona State University's Knowledge Exchange for Resilience. The center is dedicated to strengthening communities by publishing data related to issues plaguing Maricopa County, such as housing and poverty. For the past six years, she has studied how mobile home residents are disproportionately affected by heat.
According to her research, many mobile home owners park their units on properties they rent from landlords. These lots are often concrete, which not only prevents tenants from planting trees for shade, but can also reflect heat back into the mobile home. These factors, along with the fact that older model mobile homes often have inadequate insulation, can create intolerable conditions, she told the Arizona Mirror.
Faced with this situation, mobile home owners are encouraged to install shades on the windows of their units, install window air conditioning units, and surround the space under their homes with baseboards. You might consider it, but only if you get permission from your landlord.
“We've seen cases where landlords tell people they can't put up shades or install window air conditioners for aesthetic reasons,” Solis said. “From a research perspective, it could be deadly.”
she said House Bill 2146 It prevents landowners from banning solutions that help people survive Arizona's scorching heat.
“At the end of the day, this is their home,” Solis said.
The bill would give tenants the freedom to choose cooling options that fit within their lifestyles and budgets, as well as the opportunity to plant their own trees for shade.
Pat Schonek, President Arizona Mobile Home Associationsaid the problem was amplified by the dramatic shift from family-owned mobile home parks to parks operated by large corporations.
Schoneck, who lives in a mobile home park in Tucson, told the House Commerce Committee that when her neighbors were having trouble keeping their homes cool, she was able to help install window units without getting a permit. said. A family-run park.
But if they lived in a larger, corporate-owned park that couldn't install that type of air conditioning, they might have had a bigger problem, she said.
“Every day during the summer, we get calls from all over the state. They're telling us to take down the window shades, they're telling us we can't turn on the air conditioning,” Schonek said. .
Gianna Day, lobbyist Arizona residential communitiesrepresents the interests of mobile home park landlords and raised concerns about the bill's practical application.
She said window air conditioners are banned in some high-end parks as a way to maintain park values, and that the devices and the noise they cause are “problematic” and “unsightly.”
“Parks may have rules and regulations that are provided to tenants prior to occupancy,” Day said. “Because there may be communities where homes are very close together, park owners have chosen to establish a rule that does not allow windowed units.”
But lawmakers appear to be more concerned about the safety of vulnerable mobile home residents than the impact the shades and air conditioning will have on the appearance of mobile home parks.
“I think the public health benefits could outweigh the aesthetic qualities that we're trying to create in a mobile home park,” said Rep. Matt Gress (R-Phoenix).
The bill will then go to the Senate for further consideration.