STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County’s manufactured home supply has been almost reduced by half in just the last decade.
Routt County Assessor Gary Peterson noted there were roughly 1,300 total manufactured homes in the county when he began his tenure in 2010. Today, there are only about 800.
Two manufactured home parks no longer exist in the county. Trailer Haven, located near where the current Old Town Hot Springs stands in Steamboat Springs, had 11 homes. That site was torn down around 1995. Just across Lincoln Avenue at Fifth and Yampa streets was the Westland manufactured home park, which had 39 units. It was demolished in 2002.
Both were torn down in the name of downtown growth and expansion.
Two or three parks have also closed in Hayden, according to Peterson. These parks were mainly small with two to four mobile homes on site.
For manufactured homes that currently exist, more than 90% are located inside a park, with the remaining situated on private land around the county.
Many of Routt County’s 20 current mobile-home parks have changed ownership several times over the years, with most of the smaller parks owned by individuals or trusts.
Steamboat’s second-largest mobile-home park, Dream Island, is located directly off U.S. Highway 40 just steps from downtown Steamboat. Ascentia Management, formerly known as CREICO, has owned the property since 1991. Boris Vukovich, chairman of the Ascentia Board of Directors, has also owned other Routt County mobile-home parks, including the Willow Hill and Willow Bend parks in Oak Creek, which are home to 63 units. Vukovich sold Willow Bend in 2014, but failed to negotiate a deal with a local firm to sell Dream Island in the early 2000s.
In a unique turn, residents of a former mobile-home park on Maple Street in Steamboat, now known as Hilltop Homes, purchased their lots from the park owner with help from the former Regional Affordable Living Foundation and several local banks. Residents took the option to replace the original mobile homes with stick-built or modular homes.
The only time a governmental agency stepped in to save a mobile-home park was in the case of the 67-unit Fish Creek Mobile Home Park, which was purchased in September 2007 by the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, with help from the city of Steamboat Springs. It was purchased for $3.2 million in order to secure the future of the homes in that neighborhood, which was constructed in 1970. It’s currently touted as an affordable housing option.
The number of deactivated mobile home accounts, per the assessor’s office, spans back to the 1980s. There are currently 550 deactivated accounts. Those can occur for several reasons.
An account is deactivated when a title is purged, and the home becomes valued as part of the property it sits on. It also happens when a unit is sold, and the account changes names to its new owner, or, when a unit simply no longer exists or people just leave it.
“Abandonment happens all the time,” Peterson said. “Many are converted to storage then forgotten, or people die and leave the home to just sit there.”
In those cases, demolition permits are acquired and they’re knocked down.
Of the total 788 individual mobile homes currently in Routt County, only one is listed in excellent condition, 16 are considered very good, 163 are considered good, 247 are considered fair, 308 are considered average and 53 are considered low. Almost half of the homes are singlewide units manufactured prior to 1976.
The average total actual value of the manufactured homes was recorded as $32,962 in 2018, according to the assessor’s office. The 778 homes contributed a net total of $113,390.20 to the county’s tax roll in 2018.
This story is part of “Parked: Half the American Dream,” a first-of-its-kind collaboration more than a dozen Colorado news organizations. Newspaper, online, radio and wire service journalists fanned out across the state to focus on the evolving landscape for mobile homes — Colorado’s largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing. Contributors to this project, organized and led by The Colorado Sun, include: The Aspen Times, Associated Press, Aurora Sentinel, Colorado Independent, Cortez Journal, Delta County Independent, Durango Herald, Fort Collins Coloradoan, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Greeley Tribune, KUNC, Montrose Daily Press, Ouray County Plaindealer and Steamboat Pilot & Today.