Wrong Side of the Tracks or Not: Examining Inequality and Rural Mobile Home Park Residence Kate MacTavish, Oregon State University
Inequality & Rural Mobile Home Park Residence Rationale Prevalence 8.9 million nationally Characteristically rural Implications Costs of being outside of community Physical and social place Physically marginalized Socially stigmatized Structurally risky
Inequality & Rural Trailer Park Residence Research began in 1997 Two sites Midwestern- Prairieview, IL Southwestern- Mesa Vista, NM Ethnographic methods Survey Intensive
Inequality & Rural Trailer Park Residence Prairieview, Illinois Story of growth and change …in just two decades the village has been transformed into an affluent community, suburban rather than rural small-town in character, all white, and solidly Republican. (Salamon, 2003)
Most of Prairieview thinks the trailer court is low-income. Most free and reduced lunches in schools are served to children from the trailer court. Most police and ambulance activity comes from the trailer court. Residents there are just never going to pay their way [in taxes] and, because of that, the trailer court is the focus of the entire communitys wrath. -Prairieview Village Administrator
Inequality & Rural Trailer Park Residence Mesa Vista, NM Story of residential consistency If you know the area at all you know that there are pockets of mobile homes that together really just buckshot the town. No one here is going to say anything against it. Chances are everyone knows someone that lives in a trailer. Mesa Vista Planning Office
When you go into town that when its weird. They look down their noses at us there. Its like were from the wrong side of the tracks. Female park resident of less than one year
Inequality & Rural Trailer Park Residence When we first moved here, the first two years were great. We couldnt have found a safer, better environment anywhere. The biggest problem was discrimination against people that live in [trailer park] by those that live in Prairieview. They ask you where you live, and you say you live out in the country by Prairieview. But if you say you live in [trailer park] then they turn on youthey dont want anything to do with you. Even in the middle of church this will go on. Thats why people only want to live here a few years and then move on because of the discrimination. Especially those with children, because they know that if they get them out and move them into Prairieview, the kids will suddenly be O.K. Female park resident, long term
Inequality & Rural Trailer Park Residence They do consider this The Project in Prairieview. Theres a difference between those who live here and those who dont in the way they treat the kids. My niece lived here. Then she moved out to a farm. She says the way they treat [them] in school is completely different.
Inequality & Rural Trailer Park Residence I dont like the way they treat us. Its really bad for the older kids. They get treated like theyre from the wrong side of the track, even by the teachers, but mostly by the other kids. It not the kids [from town] faultit comes from their homes their parents.
Inequality & Rural Trailer Park Residence It was like I was assumed to be stupid. Like when the teacher hands back papers and says there were so many As and so many Bs. Everyone tries to guess who the As are. They never think it could be me. Even when I say I got an A, theyre like, No – it couldnt be you. Its not the teachers. Its really just the kids. The parents teach them that at home. Thats how they grow up. When I walk down the hall, the way I get hailed, the kids call out Hey Trailer Trash. Im good at blocking things out though. I hardly hear it anymore.
Inequality & Rural Trailer Park Residence The biggest mistake I ever made. When we lived in town, the kids were treated well. Now they have trouble. Park resident and father of three
Inequality & Rural Trailer Park Residence Why such divergent experiences? What mechanisms work to exacerbate inequality among rural, working-poor families is a trailer park in IL? What mechanisms work to mitigate such processes in NM?
Inequality & Rural Trailer Park Residence Residential segregation Upscale suburban development Sense of place
Residential Segregation & Inequality If you live in Prairieview and you live in a mobile home you live in the trailer park. -long time male resident
Residential Segregation & Inequality Physical distance The kids have to go into to town to have anything to do, theres nothing for them to do out here [in the park]. And the buses dont run out here after school. If your childs going to be in sports or anything after school you have to drive them. -mother of two, six year resident
Residential Segregation & Inequality Tax issues We had to offset the extra costs some way. Since those families are outside of the village limits they dont pay the same taxes as the families living in town. Prairieview village manager
Residential Integration & Inequality …pockets of mobile homes…chances are everyone knows someone that lives in a trailer. Mesa Vista Planner
Residential Integration & Inequality Its been a mission of mine to press the owners to come into compliance little by little. Mesa Vista Planner
Upscale suburban development & Inequality Wider economic gap Relative poverty
Upscale suburban development & Inequality Weve been really lucky- both kids have had great teachers, but they always assume. They assume way too much. At the beginning of last year, I went in to register both my kids. As soon as I walked in, the principal handed me a lunch waiver form. They assume that because you live in [trailer park] that you qualify for that. Our son wore an old pair of tennis shoes to school. He came home with a note saying they were giving new shoes to all the needy kids at school, and he was on that list. I sent a letter back to the school informing them that my son did not need anything. They just assume, and thats what gets to you.
Upscale suburban development & Inequality Concentration of wealth & disadvantage
Figure 3: Income Distribution in Prairieview, IL
Residential consistency & Inequality You want to know why someone lives in a trailer park, theres one reason- theyre POOR! Male park resident of 8 years
Sense of place & Inequality We dont feel like we belong to any community here. Its a roof over our heads and place to live and thats all. Prairieview park resident My whole family lives here. Weve always lived here as far back as anyone knows. This has just always been our home. Mesa Vista park resident
Inequality & Rural Trailer Park Residence Implications Context matters Strategies to better integrate