Regulation of the Day 177: Single-Wide Trailers

In 1957, the town of Cordova, Alabama banned single-wide trailer homes. It was a cynical attempt to lower the local poverty rate by keeping poor people out of town. Mayor Jack Scott explains, “We’re trying to better Cordova[.] We’re trying to clean up Cordova and keep it clean. We’re trying to keep the property values up. We’re trying to get it to where people will want to build homes on these vacant lots.”

The recent spate of tornadoes in Alabama has left a number of Cordova residents homeless. Some people are interested in buying trailers to live in temporarily while they rebuild their houses. FEMA also has trailers available for people. But they’re single-wides, so they aren’t allowed in Cordova. The weird part is that the ordinance was mostly unenforced until the tornadoes came. Now the city is cracking down at precisely the time when people need trailers the most.

The citizenry is understandably upset about this regulation. But when over 200 people, many of them displaced, showed up at a townhall meeting, they ran into another regulation. Fire marshals only allowed 100 people to enter the National Guard Armory, where the meeting was held. After much complaining, they relented and allowed everyone in.

Hopefully they will also convince Mayor Scott to rescind the trailer ban. Cordova’s people need roofs over their head more than they need their mayor’s aesthetic vision.