Home / An illusion of affordability: the economic costs of heat exposure for mobile housing in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area

An illusion of affordability: the economic costs of heat exposure for mobile housing in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area

Katsiaryna Varfalameyeva - 2020 Spring Graduate 

This project was done for the Knowledge Exchange for Resilience, ASU.

Mobile homes play a vital role in the housing market in Arizona and the USA in general being one of the most affordable types of housing options. Most of the time, the affordability of this type of housing is based on cheaper low-quality construction which results in significantly lower pricing than single-family homes. However, low-quality construction has poor insulation that results in a higher amount of energy to cool down a house during the summer. Therefore, the affordability of mobile homes transfers into hidden expenses like higher utility bills. The issue of higher utility bills from mobile home ownership is crucial in Arizona because of the high temperatures in summer. Heat exposure results in high numbers of heat morbidities and heat deaths. Specifically, in Maricopa County, more than one-third of heat deaths happen inside, and more than a quarter of those occur in mobile homes. The goal of this project is to analyze the relationships between mobile homes and heat-related morbidities\mortalities and to evaluate what economic role heat exposure plays for the affordability of mobile housing in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area.


The methodology of this project is based on the comparison of mobile homes and single-family homes through complex analysis. The study showed that the affordability of mobile homes, which is based on low-quality construction, makes their residents vulnerable to heat exposure. Survey analysis showed that more than one-third of the mobile home population has to spend more than 10% of their monthly income just for electricity, while for some this percentage can reach 30-50% of their entire budget in summer. It is a significant percentage as more than half of the mobile home population has income less than $25,000 per year. In contrast, single-family home residents pay less than 10% of their monthly income just for electricity. Other negative consequences have been revealed from the heat exposure that includes medical symptoms and change of lifestyle in the pursuit of savings.

Contact information 

kvarfala@asu.edu

https://www.linkedin.com/in/katevarfalameyeva/