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A. DISAPPEARING MODULAR HOMES
"Modular home communities" are in some places, sadly, going away. These communities are a godsend to many of their residents. As safe, affordable, private places to live--often with groundskeepers, a community center on the premises, and even pools, picnic, and barbeque areas, these areas are not easy to come by at any price. But modular (or mobile) home parks are usually very affordable; $60,000 or less for the home, $350-$500 per month for space rent, with quiet, secure streets and neighbors often in the senior peer group--this is a remarkable set of lifestyle factors for a senior citizen in retirement.
Most modular homes do not actually go to a park for installation. They go onto private property in rural areas. These homes represent about one in seven new houses in America. However, the seaside mobile home parks, affordable living near expensive urban areas--these are at risk of becoming a thing of the past. Why? Because the property owners are renting the spaces to the homeowners and the homeowners usually have no say in the matter. The parks' owners can sell for large amounts of cash to eager developers who need seaside property upon which to build their condos, shopping centers, homes, and golf courses. Well, since that's the American way of capitalism, why is it a problem?
Well, It's a problem of ethics and economy because those who retired to trailer parks can't likely afford the new condo located where their mobile home used to sit.
So why don't they just move their modular homes, you ask? In reality, these homes, once installed, generally cannot be moved. Further, they drastically depreciate in value, a double-edged sword that allows an inexpensive move-in to a quality home, and in other cases zero-value, once the park the home sits in is sold to a developer planning a new suburb.
In New Jersey and Connecticut, laws on the books require the owner to consider a fair-market bid from the residents before selling to a developer and this legislative trend is growing. In some areas, park residents have banded together in an attempt to buy the property. Recently, residents in a park in San Diego tried to do this, but the park manager said there were no plans to sell--just before they sold the property to developers in a private transaction. The residents are now fighting their eviction on a number of fronts. Their legislators are developing bills to address the problem, as well. In other areas, cities are using eminent domain to declare modular home parks "blighted areas" and rezone them for luxury developments. This recently failed in Lodi, N.J., as a follow-up to a Supreme Court decision in 2005 that found the city's claim of blight to be a weak case.
What can senior citizens do? Call your state representative's office and ask about the laws governing the sale and rezoning of mobile home parks. Talk to your neighbors, or get them together in a meeting if you are the organizing sort, so all are aware of the risks and options. It is possible to be prepared and even to act first to protect your beloved home in your modular home community. .
Additional housing information for seniors can be found at
B. PROPER DISASTER INSURANCE?
Don't be a victim in your own neighborhood! In late July a U.S. federal judge changed the playing field for millions of Americans who buy insurance with the help of an insurance salesperson. You simply cannot rely on any statement the representative makes. Instead you must do your homework and check out every claim made for its accuracy. Caviat emptor. "Let the buyer beware." For example, Federal judge L.T. Senter, Jr., ruled against a Mississippi Gulf Coast couple, saying that they could not collect compensation for a storm surge caused by Hurricane Katrina because Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company's policies do not cover wind-driven water damage. Other insurance companies are also under-paying or refusing to pay anything at all in similar situations. (It should be noted that last year the insurance companies netted a $67 billion profitthe highest by far in their histories.)
Do you have proper disaster insurance? Well, how does one know, anyway? Review your assets, review your existing policy in light of the courts' new decision on Katrina flooding victims, and review your options. Then you can make a decision about your present and needed coverage. You might be perfectly situated already, but if you don't review you could be taking a huge risk.
This is a good time to speak with your financial advisors as you take steps to find out your current status and desired protection levels. Also, your adult children should be brought into the conversation because the assets you're insuring should be there for inheritance, or to support you in long-term care if the need arises. Your children may well be willing to help defray the costs of this important risk-abatement.
Do you live in a condominium or cooperative? What disaster coverage does your homeowner's association carry? How do you find out? Call, or better, go to the regular meeting and ask! Just as an association that is withholding reserves to replace a roof but is only saving enough to do half of the job, the residents will have to pay for the other half if the withholding isn't rectified with the real costs of replacement. Proper disaster coverage is an important factor that affects all of your neighbors, too. The questions must be asked so the officers of your homeowner's association can react and do the right thing.
Americans now know that if they live in an area where hurricanes can occur they MUST have flood insurance in order to be financially protected from water damage due to human negligence, or an act of God. It matters not to the federal court that hurricanes blow water as well as wind. If you don't have flood insurance you'll only be able to claim wind damage that can be documented. If the inside of your home gets wet in a hurricane or other storm, according to the new ruling, you need flood insurance or you can forget compensation.
Regardless of what the insurance representative tells you, if the policy does not specifically state that flooding is covered - it isn't. There is now no such thing as a "blanket hurricane damage insurance policy."
Additional information regarding the Katrina cases may be found at:
Additional insurance information for seniors can be found at:
C. IT'S ABOUT TRAVEL! Survey Results
First, we would like to thank all those who participated in this edition of our Senior Survey. While the survey results are not statistically valid, the survey provides some interesting insights to the travel-related perspective.
Survey Number 701 Findings
The next Seniorresource.com Senior Survey is now posted. Please join
us in making your voice heard.
D. DID YOU KNOW...?
September is National Preparedness Month--Are You Ready?
Individuals can find information at http://www.ready.gov/america/index.html Topics to be found there: include emergency kits, emergency planning and information about the nature of the emergency.
A useful aid to assist your caregiver in gathering information he or she may need in an emergency is a MedicTag . Visit http://www.seniorresource.com/newyork.htm#medrec
Elder Abuse Hotline
thanks to BK, San Diego
The Avon Foundation, which put its backing behind the 3-day walks to raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness, supports the National Domestic Violence Hotline, http://www.ndvh.org
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E. THOUGHTS FOR THE MONTH
We present here some words from those with a birthday this month.
More "Thoughts" at: http://www.seniorresource.com/thought.htm
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F. FREE THINGS
G.SPECIAL SURFING SITES
Alliance for Retired Americans
Get your more medical information at:
H. OH MY AGING FUNNY BONE
All in the Beat
Visit 1000's of jokes of interest to people who have lived a long and
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SPONSOR OF THIS ISSUE
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Visit us online at http://www.NewLifeStyles.com to find what you are looking for. Read descriptions, view location maps and online tours, compare amenities and services, contact companies directly via e-mail, and save and recommend your favorites, all from the comfort of your own home.
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SPONSOR AN ISSUE
This issue has been edited by Betsy Day (Betsyjday@aol.com).
Aging in Place