Submit Short Film to Noble Homes, Bust Stigma, Earn Cash
After Laurie Westendorf moved into her home, she was excited to show her friends. But after telling them about the housewarming party she’d planned, she was shocked at the reaction.
“I had a friend say, ‘Why are you going to throw a housewarming party when you’re just buying a trailer?’” the Kalispell, Mont., resident said.
It’s a reaction that those living in manufactured housing know too well thanks to the stigma associated with this vital source of affordable, unsubsidized housing. The 18 million residents living in factory-built homes have had to bump against outdated notions and unfair stereotypes for decades.
Liz Wood, who lives in Duvall Riverside Village in Duvall, Wash., felt this when she moved into her manufactured home abutting the Snoqualmie River. She felt like she’d found the perfect place to raise her daughter and took pride in the garden sanctuary she built up in her yard.
But her friend, who purchased a site-built, lakefront home at the same time, made her feel otherwise.
“I thought, ‘Hey, there’s some common ground,’ but in reality, I felt less than, and that was a hard pill to swallow,” Wood said. “I knew that I was looked down upon by some of the comments that were made.”
Negative Language Naturally Builds Negative Perception
Language seems to be one of the major barriers that needs to be overcome when addressing the stigma. Joan Thompson-Stein, who lives in Conifer Green in Kingston, Mass., said she was attending a public meeting one day for a development being built near her neighborhood. An off-hand comment that someone made about her community stuck with her.
“’You used to be able to call them trailer parks,’” she recalled a man saying, his words dripping with disdain.
In reality, manufactured housing serves a viable and attractive option for both first-time homeowners and those looking to downsize — something Wood said she experienced firsthand during the Great Recession. While she lived fairly comfortably during those years, her friends and family were struggling.
“Their lakefront property that they spent big money for — it turns out they couldn’t really afford to be there,” she said. “And at this point I’m able to give her flowers and plants and she puts them in her yard. So not only can we continue to make our homes beautiful, I can give to others at a different economic level and hopefully convince them that there are strong hardworking people who want to live in a nice home and that it doesn’t have to cost $400,000.”
Working Hard for Community
In many of these neighborhoods, hard-working members are volunteering their time to help not only themselves, but their entire community.
A visit to these homes and communities quickly brings down the common misconception that these are last resorts.
The Rev. Michael Scarlett, who lives in Colonial Estates Homeowners Association in Taunton, Mass., said residents have a real sense of ownership in the 148-home neighborhood he lives in.
“Colonial Estates as a community really is a community,” he said. “People take pride in their homes.”
That’s been Westendorf’s experience, too, when others have come to visit her neighborhood, Morning Star.
“Once they come into the community and they come into our home, they just fall in love with it,” Westendorf said.
Show Noble Homes Your Film, Share How You Live
That’s exactly what the Noble Homes Video Contest aims to do: show the true reality of manufactured home living.
There are countless stories that could inspire us each and every day, ones meant to be widely shared. The hope is that creating and sharing these videos will break negative perception, eliminate the stigma.
And there will be two types of a contests.
In the first, videos can be between 30 and 60 seconds. A second contest will allow videos to be a minute to three minutes. In both, the videos are meant to capture what it’s truly like to live in these neighborhoods while challenging the stigma around manufactured home communities.
First place winners in both contests will be awarded $5,000 and a runner up will win $1,000.
Anyone can submit as many videos as they want for either contest and are eligible to win in both categories. However, a contestant will not be able to win more than once in a given contest. In other words, you can’t win first and second place in the same contest.
Submissions will be accepted until March 17, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time. Winners will be announced May 6. Contest judges will be led by manufactured homeowners themselves. This contest is truly for and about homeowners, so it’s important that they have a say in how their lifestyles and homes are portrayed.