The Mystery of the Mobile Home: A Geographic Investigation of Mobile Homes in Rural Pennsylvania

Open Access
Aman, Destiny Dawn
Graduate Program:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
Committee Members:
  • Brenton Yarnal, Thesis Advisor
  • Pennsylvania
  • mobile homes
  • tax assessment data
  • housing
  • hazards
In rural Pennsylvania counties, mobile homes make up nearly 11 percent of the total housing stock and serve as a significant source of affordable housing. Despite the importance of this housing type, local and state-level policymakers seeking to address issues relevant to mobile home residents including land tenure, spatial restriction, and vulnerability to hazards are limited by data availability and accuracy problems. This thesis attempts to overcome these data limitations by developing and implementing a methodology to analyze thematic and geographic data on mobile homes collected from county tax assessment offices. Research findings indicate that mobile homes in rural Pennsylvania are typically aged structures in below-average condition on leased land. Ground-truthing observations lend texture to this analysis by identifying multiple uses for this housing type across the study counties. Based on these different uses, the thesis develops a taxonomy of mobile home contexts in rural Pennsylvania. In addition, the research identifies several issues affecting mobile home residents in rural Pennsylvania – notably, many mobile home residents in the study counties may be vulnerable to housing insecurity, escalating energy costs, and hazards – including flooding and fire. Since mobile homes are expected to be an important source of affordable housing in rural communities for years to come, rural policymakers can use this information to address the special needs of their communities.