9/18/2013

That's How We Roll

Clemson Tipi
The year I move in, Google StreetView finally rolls on by.
This past weekend, a beauty pageant representative for my home state, South Carolina, garnered infamy once more. She did not confuse the longitudinal positions of the Dakotas and the Carolinas, like her teen pageant antecedent. Rather she told a (somewhat rounded-up) truth.  

“I’m from the state where 20% of our homes are mobile because that’s how we roll.”

The actual number is 17.9% but still. If you add a 'nearly' in there, that's that. And either way, South Carolina tops the national charts for residents per capita that live in impermanent housing: manufactured, mobile, RVs... tipis.

Miss South Carolina, Brooke Mosteller, is from the same upper-middle class, white, suburban stripmall that I also call home, Mount Pleasant. Sure, there are a few trailers over on 6 Mile Road (which is actually where I went to elementary school, instead of being bused across town, like the rest of the affluent white kids), but there are not many to speak of.

When I bought the land to live in a tipi, I knew that I was going into a... different strata of society, but honestly, I had no idea how different that [nearly] 20% can be.

Claritas Prizm
Nielsen Analytics' View of Pendleton, SC 
The previous owner of the land that I now live on, lets call her Missy (because that's actually her name), inherited two half-acre parcels from her deceased aunt, worth about $30,000. Each parcel had a trailer on it. About ten ten years ago, someone's pickup truck ran through one of the trailers. Instead of fixing it, she scrapped the trailer, left a pile of trash on the property, and abandoned it.

Though the taxes were under $100 per year, by 2010, the county had seized the land from Missy and sold it at auction for only $1,100, due to back taxes and late fees. The purchaser of the tax deed died two years later, and I bought the property for $2,000, from his family, soon thereafter.

When I moved in, Missy still lived next door, in the second mobile home. It wasn't the most squalid of the trailers in the neighborhood, but she had four or five tenants in that little single-wide with her. By January of this year, all but one had moved out, including Missy. Why? They hadn't payed their power bill.

Missy ran her heat all winter, but just like her taxes, she didn't pick up the tab. And even though she owned the place, Missy still just abandoned ship, when reality caught up with her. She moved in with a fellow proletariat, leaving one tenant, Stacie (who had no where else to go), without heat in the tail end of winter.

So what did Stacie do? She bought a gas generator and used that to heat and light the home, of course!
With petrol at around $3.30 per gallon, Stacie was paying nearly double the price for her electricity for one eight the power and convenience. Stracie spent so much on gas that she had to get rid of her dogs. She couldn't afford their shots or their food. And it took her until early summer, five months, to finally move out.

Fast forward to late August, schools starting back, and Missy has rented that blue trailer out to someone else, named Michael. Michael spent weeks moving in and cleaning up the place, but just the other day, he had to fire up a generator. Why? Because they still had not made par, with their power bill, and Odin only knows if they're up on their taxes.
If you'd like a better idea of what squalor is like, might I suggest checking out Myrtle Manor. I've never seen it, but TLC has made an entire show out trailer park livin' in South Carolina.
On the other hand, if you're looking to learn how to hitchhike, check out my book- The Hitchhiker's Guide to: Earth.

Source: Google Maps The Post and Courier Nielsen



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