Source: UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT submitted to
BUILDING RESILIENCE THROUGH COMMUNITY-BASED ACTION RESEARCH: IDENTIFYING VULNERABILITIES AND FACILITATING CHANGE IN RURAL MOBILE HOME PARKS
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
EXTENDED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
0222777
Grant No.
2010-65401-21325
Project No.
VT-0057OG
Proposal No.
2009-06123
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
96460
Project Start Date
Sep 1, 2010
Project End Date
Aug 31, 2014
Grant Year
2014
Project Director
Baker, D.
Recipient Organization
UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT
(N/A)
BURLINGTON,VT 05405
Performing Department
Community Development and Applied Economics
Non Technical Summary
Mobile home parks provide critical affordable housing options for low-income residents in rural areas of the United States. The majority of these parks were built before environmental regulations or land use planning was in place for site evaluation. Consequently, many parks are located in areas vulnerable to natural hazards, such as flooding, where mitigation would have been required if permitted today. The combination of low-incomes, relatively high population densities, and poor site-planning increases the vulnerability of mobile home parks to a wide range of disasters. This research project proposes to investigate one type of low-income community common to rural areas that combines both of these elements, the mobile home park. Ubiquitous across the United States, mobile home parks are also communities, and it is community development through action research that this project seeks to explore and strengthen as a strategy for building resilience amongst some of this country's most vulnerable households. The primary goal of this three-year research proposal is to increase the resilience to disasters of mobile home parks in the rural state of Vermont. Using an action-research approach, disaster resilience for residents will be increased through hazard identification, community organization, emergency planning, and improved coordination between key stakeholders such as resident associations, the emergency management system, affordable housing institutions and governmental agencies. The approach proposed here is to combine risk data tailored to mobile home parks with community organizing and capacity building aimed at developing short, rapid response plans that provide basic plans for managing in the case of severe disturbances. Using statewide and park-scale surveys, integrated into a participatory action research framework, the project will build the capacity of low-income communities to respond to disaster. A database of emergency management information scaled for mobile home park communities will be developed and made available to park residents and owners, as well as municipal officials and the regional emergency management system. A guide for improving disaster resiliency within park communities created for park residents and owners. Strategies to increase participation in emergency management planning by low-income individuals will be explored, addressing a critical need identified in the literature. Anticipated outcomes are heightened understandings of vulnerabilities faced by mobile home parks, and multiple-scale strategies to improve the resilience, sustainability and quality of life for residents living in this affordable housing system. Through the statewide polling we will better understand disaster awareness and preparation practices of Vermonters from all housing types. While the results of the project are intended to benefit mobile home park residents in Vermont, lessons learned through this process will be applicable to planning for mobile home parks generally, and should be of interest to those involved in reducing risk to a range of rural low-income housing communities throughout the United States.
Animal Health Component
80%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
20%
Applied
80%
Developmental
(N/A)
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
8046020301050%
8056050303050%
Goals / Objectives
This project seeks to improve hazard preparedness and emergency response in rural mobile home park communities. Goal 1: Identify vulnerabilities to disasters facing rural mobile home park communities in the State of Vermont, including both physical and socio-economic elements that contribute to vulnerability and compromise resilience. Objective 1.1: Develop and implement a methodology to screen mobile home park communities for physical hazards using GIS and other existing databases. Objective 1.2: Use the 2010 US Census and other databases to screen communities for socio-economic elements that contribute to vulnerability and resilience. Objective 1.3: Develop an index and prioritize the vulnerability of mobile home park communities in Vermont. Objective 1.4: Develop a statewide web-based database of vulnerabilities at mobile home parks that can be used to develop park-scale emergency management and hazard mitigation plans that can be integrated into municipal emergency management plans. Goal 2: Increase involvement of low-income rural residents of mobile home parks in emergency management planning. Objective 2.1: Evaluate resident perceptions of vulnerability to hazards and the EMS by surveying residents at mobile home parks about their perceived risks and constraints to greater involvement in hazard mitigation and resilience planning. Objective 2.2: Develop a disaster mitigation and planning guide for mobile home parks that includes a rapid response emergency management plan template and planning process. Objective 2.3: Involve mobile home park resident associations and owners in completing and evaluating the rapid response plans and planning process. Goal 3: Increase knowledge of disaster vulnerabilities and emergency planning for mobile home park residents and owners, planning officials, local governments, and emergency management officials. Objective 3.1: Assess existing municipal emergency management plans for their approach to addressing vulnerabilities of mobile home parks within their jurisdiction. Objective 3.2: Conduct a statewide survey on awareness of emergency management and resilience strategies. Objective 3.3: Regionally disseminate information about hazards, vulnerabilities and mitigation strategies to stakeholders statewide. Objective 3.4: Implement a statewide process to involve stakeholders and residents in identifying opportunities and barriers to improving resilience in mobile home parks and improving integration into existing disaster management plans. The project will produce manuals on emergency management planning for mobile home parks along with a template for developing park-scale plans. Information for community plans will be available on a web-based database. This is will strengthen the statewide emergency management system by building local capacity and integrating low-income mobile home residents into the system. The project will result in better information about statewide, as well as park-scale understanding how to reduce the likelihood of disaster. Project findings will be disseminated through stakeholder meetings, popular press, websites, journal articles and conferences.
Project Methods
Qualitative and quantitative data collected during this project will be used to engage community members in reducing the likelihood of disaster through community-based participatory action research. Integrating resilience management into the resident organizing process places emergency management into a park-scale sphere of control and will provide information about how to engage low-income communities in planning for sustainable and resilient development. The initial case studies on disasters affecting mobile homes in Vermont will follow standard case study methods. The case study method is appropriate to use in evaluation of the experiences in these disasters given the importance of context to the research. Particularly in relation to understanding community planning issues in low income communities, consideration of process is critical to clarifying the lessons that may be drawn from these experiences. The multiple case study approach follows a "replication logic" in which each case study is viewed as its own experiment, with unique sets of conclusions. The GIS vulnerability analysis will draw largely on existing data sets available through the Vermont Center of Geographic Information. A number of important data sets that either do not currently exist or are only partially available will need to be developed. These include digitizing the location of mobile home parks using orthography and the compilation of existing related data sets related to hazards, such as floodplains. Data from the 2010 US Census will be included as it becomes available. Relative hazard will be assessed based on theoretical risk as well as experience of disasters in parks and other low-income communities. Statewide surveys will be conducted through the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont during its annual telephone resident survey. The questions for this survey will be developed from resilience theory, the case studies and, in the case of the second statewide survey, from the results of the park surveys. Bivariate and multivariate analysis of the data will be conducted to compare elements of resilience between park residents and other residents of the state. The individual park surveys will be developed and implemented based on findings from literature review and previous experiences from working in park communities. Residents from parks across the state will be surveyed. The majority of the data will involve close-ended questions that will be entered in the SPSS statistical software program. Open-ended questions will be coded and analyzed using content analysis methods. Participatory processes will involve a number of different participatory methods. One technique that has been particularly useful in the past and will likely be a primary method for assisting participants identify and prioritize issues is the nominal group process. In addition, pre and post surveys will be used to evaluate the impact training programs have on participants knowledge of issues related to building resilient communities and engaging with the emergency management system.

Progress 09/01/12 to 08/31/13

Outputs
Target Audience: Emergency managers and planners, mobile home park residents, regional planners, housing authorities, affordable housing advocates Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? PI and research specialists attended trainings in emergency exercise evaluation and conduct of emergency preparedness exercises.Research specialist was able to attend a conference where we presented a research poster . How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? Journal articles, posters, professional presentations to academics, housing authorities and emergency management specialists. Contributed to testimony before state legislature. Prepared report for state economic development and housing agency. Meetings with local emergency planning committees. Meetings with mobile home park resident committees. Preparation of "lay person" summaries of project results posted on a website we developed for this purpose. Participation in several multi-agency working groups seeking to increase resilience to disasters and improve mobile home housing quality. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? Finalize the database and disseminate through the website. Present results of emergency planning exercises at a conference, Begin work on next journal article. Continue multi-agency work on improvements to mobile home quality and emergency response. Prepare guidance documents for mobile home residents to assist in increasing their resilience to disaster. Assist two mobile home parks participate in the 2014 statewide emergency planning exercise.

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? Mobile home parks provide critical affordable housing options for low-income residents in rural areas of the United States. The majority of these parks were built before environmental regulations or land use planning was in place. Consequently, many parks are located in areas vulnerable to natural hazards, such as flooding, where mitigation would have been required if permitted today. The combination of low incomes, relatively high population densities, and poor site planning increases the vulnerability of mobile home parks to a wide range of disasters. The primary goal of this three-year research proposal is to increase the resilience to disasters of mobile home parks in the rural state of Vermont using an action-research approach, and builds upon more than five years of prior collaborative research with mobile home park communities. Disaster resilience for residents will be increased through hazard identification, community organization, emergency planning, and improved coordination between key stakeholders such as resident associations, the emergency management system, affordable housing institutions and governmental agencies. This research project uses existing and new data to evaluate and increase the emergency preparedness of mobile home parks in the state of Vermont. Using statewide and park-scale surveys, integrated into a participatory action research framework, the project will build the capacity of low income communities to respond to disaster. Since the beginning of the project Tropical Storm Irene and the spring flooding in 2011 exposed the vulnerabilities of mobile home parks in Vermont when 154 mobile homes in parks were destroyed. In an article the project research team published in 2013 overlay analysis revealed that 31.9 percent of all mobile home parks in the state have some of their land in floodplains, and that 20.2 percent of all mobile home parks have at least one house in the floodplain. Statewide, our assessment found 11.7 percent of mobile homes in parks are in flood plains. A key element in this assessment was an existing GIS dataset showing the location and E911 addresses of residences, an outcome of Vermonts decision to geolocate all residences in the state and make that dataset publically available. Similar data is available in most states but has not been made public. The research demonstrated the benefits to policy-makers and emergency planners of creating and making available accurate E911 GIS databases of residences. The application of this exposure assessment to increase the resiliency of mobile home parks to flooding is discussed. In addition to a published journal article, this research has been disseminated through presentations at emergency management conferences in and outside of Vermont, housing conferences as well as numerous meetings with local emergency planning committees (LEPC). A website has been developed to share project information and a database documenting Vermont mobile home park vulnerabilities will be available in Jan. 2014. Currently, the project is working with two mobile home parks to develop and exercise park-scale emergency response plans.

Publications

  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2014 Citation: Baker, D., S. Hamshaw, K. Hamshaw (2014) Rapid Flood Exposure Assessment of Vermont Mobile Home Parks Following Tropical Storm Irene. Natural Hazards Review. 15:1, 27-37
  • Type: Other Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: Luciano,P., Baker, D., Hamshaw, K. and Riegler, N. (2013) Report on the Viability and Disaster Resilience of Mobile Home Ownership and Parks. Vermont Dept. of Housing and Community Development. Montpelier, VT
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: Baker, D.,Hamshaw, K., Woodward, S. (2013) Emergency Preparedness for Vermonts Mobile Home Park Communities. Presented at the Vermont Emergency Management Conference. Fairlee, VT Oct. 18, 2013
  • Type: Other Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: Baker, D., Hamshaw, K., Hamshaw, S. (2013) Building Resilience to Disaster: Learning from the Experience of Vermonts Mobile Home Parks in Tropical Storm Irene. Poster Presentation at the Hazards Research & Applications Workshop. Natural Hazards Center. Boulder, CO. July 2013
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2012 Citation: Baker, D. (2012) Resilience as a Strategy for Change in Vermonts Mobile Home Parks. Presented at the Regional Adaptation to Climate Change Scenario Development Workshop. Burlington, VT. November 13, 2012


Progress 09/01/11 to 08/31/12

Outputs
OUTPUTS: Mobile home parks provide critical affordable housing options for low-income residents in rural areas of the United States. The majority of these parks were built before environmental regulations or land use planning was in place for site evaluation. Consequently, many parks are located in areas vulnerable to natural hazards. The combination of low incomes, relatively high population densities, and poor site planning increases the vulnerability of mobile home parks to a wide range of disasters. The primary goal of this research project is to increase the disaster resiliency of Vermonts mobile home parks using a participatory action-research approach. Disaster resilience for residents will be increased through hazard identification, community organization, emergency planning, and improved coordination between key stakeholders. Using existing datasets and new statewide and park-scale surveys, the project builds the capacity of low income communities to prepare and respond to disaster. Strategies to increase participation in emergency management by low-income individuals are being developed, addressing a critical need identified in the literature. Since the project began in September 2010, 19 mobile home parks have sustained damages from the Spring 2011 flooding and flooding from Tropical Storm Irene destroying more than 150 homes. In the wake of these events, we have documented the effects and impacts on these communities through our partnerships with the CVOEO Mobile Home Program, Vermont Dept. of Housing, the Agency of Natural Resources, the Lieutenant Governors Office, Vermont Association of General Contractors, Champlain Housing Trust, Vermont Housing and Conversation Board and local long-term recovery committees. Immediately after the storm, we provided staff support to document and supervise the deconstruction of 68 flooded mobile homes. In February, we hosted a forum that brought together key stakeholders to discuss strategies for creating more resilient mobile home parks post-Irene. We completed a statewide survey of 363 residents from a representative sample of 127 parks that investigated resident disaster awareness and preparedness practices and collected demographic data.. We also conducted a rapid GIS assessment of flood vulnerabilities of all parks in Vermont and shared these findings with the Dept of Housing, Vermont Emergency Management, Local Emergency Planning Committees, and Local Emergency Management Directors. We have shared our findings through our project website (www.uvm.edu/~cdaemhp), presentations at Local Emergency Planning Committee meetings, and presented at the Vermont Emergency Preparedness Conference. The P.I. provided testimony about mobile home parks vulnerabilities to Vermont legislative committees. We will host regional meetings in communities across the state next year, and publish Building Resiliency guidebooks and launch an online database with park-specific emergency management data intended for park residents, owners, and emergency planners. The research will be included in the update of Vermonts hazard mitigation plan as well as local mitigation plans. PARTICIPANTS: Dan Baker, PI/PD Kelly Hamshaw, Research Specialist/Coordinator Champlain Valley Office of Economic Development Mobile Home Program TARGET AUDIENCES: Mobile Home Park residents, owners and managers Affordable housing agencies and non-profits Hazard mitigation agencies Local emergency planning committees PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: With approval from the funder we assisted mobile home parks with disaster response following Tropical Storm Irene including data management related to waste removal

Impacts
The 2011 floods illustrated the vulnerabilities of Vermont mobile home parks. This research project has contributed research on risks and how communities recover from these events. We completed a rapid flood hazard assessment of all parks in the state. We found that more than one fifth of Vermonts 248 parks have at least one lot located in a flood hazard area and that nearly 12% of all mobile home lots in parks are located in a flood hazard area. Mobile homes in parks have a greater vulnerability to flooding compared to mobile homes on private land (6%) and single family homes (4%). Identification of other hazards, such as seismic risk and proximity to hazardous, is underway. This hazard analysis is useful to stakeholders includingpark residents, park owners, affordable housing advocates, local governments and state policymakers. This analysis will enable more proactive emergency planning and preparedness for mobile home park communities. The research outcomes of this project will be included in the Vermont Hazard Mitigation Plan. To understand the disaster awareness and preparedness practices of park residents as well as gather key demographic data, we conducted a representative statewide survey of 363 park residents from 127 different parks. We found that the average park resident has lived in their park for 12 years. Half of residents surveyed are considered to either be extremely low or very low income according to guidelines set by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. More than one third (37%) of the households surveyed had at least one resident over the age of 65. Forty-one percent of households reported having at least one person with a health condition or disability that would be a concern in an emergency situation. Less than one third of respondents reporting knowing if their home was tied down or anchored to its lot. Most residents reported having at least 72 hours worth of food and water stored in their home (85%), fewer had a household emergency plan (45%), back-up power source (30%), and a household disaster kit (28%). We will be comparing the findings from this park resident to the results of the 2012 Vermonter Poll where we posed similar questions to analyze if there are any significant differences between park residents and the state as a whole. We are comparing responses between 2012 and 2011 to assess the impact Tropical Storm Irene had any impact on Vermonters disaster awareness and preparedness practices. As Vermont experiences increasingly severe storm events, it is important to consider potential risks to these affordable housing communities and seek community-based strategies for increasing resilience.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 09/01/10 to 08/31/11

Outputs
OUTPUTS: Mobile home parks provide critical affordable housing options for low-income residents in rural areas of the United States. The majority of these parks were built before environmental regulations or land use planning was in place for site evaluation. Consequently, many parks are located in areas vulnerable to natural hazards, such as flooding, where mitigation would have been required if permitted today. The combination of low incomes, relatively high population densities, and poor site planning increases the vulnerability of mobile home parks to a wide range of disasters. The primary goal of this three-year research proposal is to increase the resilience to disasters of mobile home parks in the rural state of Vermont using an action-research approach, and builds upon more than five years of collaborative research with mobile home park communities. Disaster resilience for residents will be increased through hazard identification, community organization, emergency planning, and improved coordination between key stakeholders such as resident associations, the emergency management system, affordable housing institutions and governmental agencies. This research project will use existing and new data to evaluate and increase the emergency preparedness of mobile home parks in the state of Vermont. Using statewide and park-scale surveys, integrated into a participatory action research framework, the project will build the capacity of low income communities to respond to disaster. A database of emergency management information scaled for mobile home park communities will be developed and made available to park residents and owners, as well as municipal officials and the regional emergency management system. A series of guides for improving disaster resiliency within park communities will be created for park residents, park owners, and local planning stakeholders. Strategies to increase participation in emergency management planning by low-income individuals will be explored, addressing a critical need identified in the literature. Since the project began in September 2010, 17 mobile home parks have sustained damages from the Spring 2011 flooding and flooding from Tropical Storm Irene destroying more than 150 homes. As a result of this current situation we are documenting the effects and impacts of these events, including providing documentation for the deconstruction of the destroyed mobile homes in partnership with the CVOEO Mobile Home Project, the Vermont Association of General Contractors, and the Lieutenant Governors Office. A number of possible research questions have been identified as a result of Irene during both the initial response and longer term recovery phases. We will work with a variety of partners and stakeholders to continue investigating the impacts of these events on Vermont mobile home parks throughout the next year. We have been providing data and information to Local Emergency Planning Committees through presentations as well as participating in conversations with affordable housing advocates and organizations. PARTICIPANTS: Daniel Baker, PhD, Principal Investigator. Dr. Baker has overseen all aspects of this research project including supervising the project staff and the development of the statewide survey of Vermonters and the statewide resident survey of mobile home park residents. He is also responsible for overseeing research methods, data analysis and dissemination of results through presentations and publications. Kelly Hamshaw, MS, Research Specialist. Ms. Hamshaw coordinates the day-to-day aspects of the research project, including managing communications, project logistics, development of survey instruments, and conducting fieldwork. She also provides supervision for the graduate research assistant and works closely with staff from the collaborating partner agency to develop the Building Resiliency Guides. Ms. Hamshaw also contributes to data analysis and dissemination of results. Jonathan Bond, BS, Graduate Research Assistant. Mr. Bond has been primarily responsible for managing and analyzing the data from the Vermonter Poll telephone survey and reviewing literature related to disasters and vulnerable populations. The Mobile Home Project at the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity is a formal project partner to the UVM research team. Staff members at the Mobile Home Project have been developing the series of Building Resiliency Guides as well as assisting with the development of the statewide resident survey. TARGET AUDIENCES: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Impacts
The flooding events of 2011 have illustrated the vulnerabilities of Vermont mobile home parks and this research project has been able to engage in the ongoing dialogue of how these communities recover from these events. Preliminary GIS analysis using the best available floodplain data shows that approximately 25 percent of Vermont mobile home parks are sited within 100 year floodplains, including 13 of the 15 parks that sustained heavy damages during Tropical Storm Irene. We will continue identifying other hazards to parks in Year 2 of this project. This hazard analysis should be of interest to a variety of stakeholders including, but not limited to, park residents, park owners, affordable housing advocates, local governments and state policymakers. We hope that this analysis will enable more proactive emergency planning and preparedness for mobile home park communities. We are also in the process of comparing statewide preparedness and that of mobile home park residents. The statewide survey (n=596) found that about 1/3 of respondents believed themselves to be prepared for an emergency. The remaining 2/3, while not assessing themselves as prepared did report activities that are generally recommended for disaster preparedness, e.g. 78% had enough food and water for at least 72 hours. The survey also found that prior to Tropical Storm Irene most Vermonters viewed flooding as an unlikely event relative to other potential disasters. In the Fall 2011 we are asking similar questions of mobile home park residents throughout the state and have currently completed more than 120 resident surveys. This survey activity is expected to be completed in Dec. 2011 and the analysis by Feb. 2012.

Publications

  • Baker, D., K. Hamshaw, C. Beach. (2011) Facilitating Change in Rural Mobile Home Parks A Collaborative Action Research Approach. Journal of Rural and Community Development