Sitting at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder is subject to flooding, drought, and forest fires. High housing costs have led many residents to move to mobile home communities on the outskirts of the city, which are largely disconnected from city government and are more vulnerable to economic pressures and natural disasters.
The Cities of Service Resilience AmeriCorps VISTA members and city staff connected mobile home residents with one another and trained them to make their communities more resilient.
- The city created Boulder Barrels, which trained resident volunteers to install rain barrels in mobile home parks.
- Building on the connections formed through Boulder Barrels, AmeriCorps VISTA members organized a Fall Forum to encourage residents to form homeowners associations in mobile-home communities and to train them to better advocate for their communities with the city and mobile park property owners.
- Through a program called Better Together, city staff and AmeriCorps VISTA members conducted workshops for mobile home residents that defined resilience, explored potential environmental disasters in Boulder, and helped residents create emergency preparedness plans. During the workshops, residents were encouraged to work with their neighbors to become familiar with resources available in their neighborhood so they could coordinate with city departments and with each other during emergencies.
The city has successfully engaged hundreds of mobile home residents, connecting them with city leaders and with one another to help prepare them for natural disasters.
- AmeriCorps VISTA members helped residents install 80 rain barrels. Dozens of participants were also trained and are now able to help others install their own rain barrels.
- Through Better Together, the city trained more than 100 residents in emergency response.
- The city also connected with many more residents through their Resilience Together website, which educates residents about resilience and allows them sign up for programs and submit ideas.
- The Fall Forum was attended by 75 residents, representing 13 mobile home parks. Eight attendees joined the steering committee to form a statewide homeowners association.
- Attendees of the Fall Forum joined with other residents to create the Coalition of Manufactured Home Owners in Boulder. Together they introduced a new city ordinance that strengthened residents’ right to privacy, prohibited retaliation by landlords, and created space for official mediation of disputes in mobile home parks. The ordinance was passed by the city.
Keys to Success
By connecting city residents so that they could educate one another, the city was able to increase its impact. Through efforts related to the Cities of Service Resilience AmeriCorps program, the city also strengthened the social cohesion of mobile-home residents and built trust between the city and this previously disengaged community, which better prepared them for emergencies like flooding and allowed them to better advocate for their communities on a variety of issues.
“The most important piece of building resilience is developing relationships with your neighbors.”
— MacKenzie Boli, Resilience AmeriCorps VISTA, now working with Resilient 21