From Wall Street to the Trailer Park

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Aerial of mobile homes in the bright desert sun. (Shutterstock)

From Wall Street to the trailer park—that's the real trajectory traveled by brothers-in-law Dan Weissman and Dave Shlachter, who are both principals and co-founders of Jaffa Parks,  a company that owns trailer parks in Indianapolis and across Texas.

Weissman and Shlachter were recently profiled in Bloomberg Markets Magazine—there they explain that while the trailer park business might seem like an unlikely growth industry, the economics of mobile homes are particularly alluring to folks who’ve made their living in the markets.

There were fewer units of public housing in the United States in 2012 than there were in 1995, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, even as the number of "worse case" households—families particularly in need of assistance—has risen.

For around 12 million Americans, a trailer park home is simply the best bet financially. That's why former Wall Street investment bankers like Weissman and Shlachter are getting into the business. 


Dave Shlachter and Dan Weissman

Produced by:

Mythili Rao


T.J. Raphael

Comments [10]

SillyBilly from Indianapolis

Nouveau riche – Gross!
At least the old money in this country taught their kids respect and community service.
The SWAT team came in for a guy named Bob Leonard (Google Bob Leonard Richmond Hills). Bob and his brother and girlfriend allegedly blew up an entire neighborhood in Indianapolis. Bob Leonard has not had a trial yet but DAVID SHLACHTER says he was convicted during this interview. That is probably because they treated that guy like he has been convicted. They illegally took possession of Bob’s mobile home and personal items. These boys think they are above the law. DANIEL WEISSMAN’s wife is an attorney and DAVID SHLACHTER’s dad is an attorney. They both think and act like they are attorneys. I guess an attorney is not a far stretch for a guy who called himself a Tech Entrepreneur in one article and an Investment Banker in the next article. They married sisters that are the true money in the family.
They are a total farce. They are not looking to help anyone but themselves. In fact those two geniuses are creating a bubble in that industry and it will pop all over their investors wallets!! Selling brand new mobile homes on a kwasi rent to own program (Big rip off) for $850 a month instead of $700. Making affordable housing NOT AFFORDABLE! They refer to the tenants as white trash and view their personal problems like it is a Jerry Springer show.
As a Jew I can tell you that they give my people a bad name. BEWARE of these guys!

Sep. 17 2014 10:09 PM
Leah from Taylor, MI

I'm always interested when NPR explores the unique opportunities that there are in segments of society that are overlooked or looked-down on.

However, it's disappointing that even public radio openly subscribes to such blatant stereotyping. The commentary by interviewer and interviewees in this piece reinforces the pervasive assumption that the poor live where they do because they are uneducated, unmotivated, or unattuned to a better standard of living. It's belittling, and I'm sure was isolating to any listeners who live now or have lived in trailer parks.

Apr. 17 2014 11:54 PM

WOW. This segment lives up to every possible stereotype about NPR. The entire episode was cringe worthy.

Apr. 17 2014 08:44 PM
MChen from LIC, NY

In giving these obnoxious "entrepreneurs" all that airtime to sneer at low-income people, while bragging about "rescuing" them by "civilizing" their mobile home communities--you essentially just affirmed our worst stereotypes about Wall Street. Next time please try a little self-awareness. Thanks.

Apr. 17 2014 06:43 PM
Jennifer from San Francisco

This piece was totally embarrassing. Mr. Hockenberry should feel ashamed of the blatant classism and elitism demonstrated in the banter between host and guests. A critical analysis with some difficult questions for the two men openly working to make a profit off of the rural poor would have been a lot more appropriate than the "monster truck on the geraniums" comment which pretty much demonstrated Mr. Hockenberry's total lack of sophistication about social class and disparities in this country.

Apr. 17 2014 04:20 PM
Kate from New York, NY

The last segment on investors in mobile home parks was interesting, but I really could have done without the somewhat sneering/snobby tone of both Mr. Hockenberry and, to a lesser extent, his guests (exemplified in the question about getting a hypothetical call about a monster truck parked on someone's geraniums). Based on the tone, I am guessing that Mr. Hockenberry hasn't spent much time in a trailer park. My aunt lives in one, and it is not "Jerry Springer"-like. I think this sort of exchange reveals WNYC (and perhaps NYC)'s weakness: a tendency to view people outside the city as caricatures from a FOX sitcom.

Apr. 17 2014 04:06 PM
space baby from California

Mr. Hockenberry needs educating. These are mobile home parks NOT trailer parks. Trailers are those pulled behind trucks/cars for vacations etc. There is a difference... While some people do live full time in their trailers, the subject of this interview is mobile homes.
I live in a mobile home in a mobile home park in Marin County, CA and pay over $800/mo rent for just the dirt the home is situated on (plus a mortgage for the home itself). So, even the "poor" would not necessarily find a mobile home affordable housing.

Apr. 17 2014 03:53 PM
Chanti from Minnesota

Agree 100% with you, Mark & Susan. This segment was blatantly classicist, period. Really disappointed.

Apr. 17 2014 02:54 PM
Susan Schultz from Edwardsville, IL

I totally agree with you, Mark. I found the host's "jokes" to be the worst kind of stereotyping. Elitist, snobby, and just plain rude. This was a really interesting story until the host drove the discussion right into the mud.

Apr. 17 2014 01:50 PM
Mark from Philadelphia, PA

This story about about two silicon valley entrepreneurs attempt to make a business around managing mobile home parks while also striving to do right by the residents was both interesting as it described how the tech world is having an impact on all Americans (even those seemingly the furthest away from silicon valley) and appreciated as the subject of mobile homes and the people that live in them is rarely highlighted in popular media.

Despite these positive features I found hosts questions relating to the challenges of managing a mobile home park highlighted, subscribed to, and reinforced the some of the worst stereotypes of the rural poor. Specifically, querying whether the guest had to deal with monster truck on the neighbors lawns, comparing their business to Sons of Anarchy and Breaking Bad, and finishing up the segment with the theme to Trailer Park Boys. As someone who lived in a tailer for a time, I find it highly offensive that the host so flippantly invoked the specter that those of us who live in mobile home parks are likely drug dealers, or gun runners, or murders, or simply halfwitted.

We rural poor are one of the last groups of American society where it is still acceptable in polite society to openly ascribe to/promote the worst and most damaging stereotypes about us. This needs to stop. I hope the show will continue to focus on the rural poor but I hope that in the future the host will show the same respect for us that his guests did.

Thank you.

Apr. 17 2014 01:34 PM

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