Decrepit mobile homes are what passes for affordable housing for far too many people, including many children, in our community.

A three-day, in-depth report from Star reporter Emily Bregel examined mobile homes in Tucson and found evidence of a shameful reality:

Metro Tucson has about 44,000 mobile homes. Thousands of people live in trailers with gaping holes in the floor and ceiling, leaving residents open to the elements; with toilets that have sunk through the floor and have had to be disconnected, so waste just goes into the dirt; that are coated with black mold and infested with insects and vermin.

For many of these residents in the roughly 430 trailer parks across Tucson, this is the choice: Pay for quarters that at the very least need major repairs if they can be salvaged at all — or be homeless.

Hardly a choice.

Yet, as Bregel shows us, it happens over and over again.

It’s demonstrable proof of how the system fails people who cannot afford to fight their landlords to make basic repairs — they have no power. They know they can be kicked out with essentially no recourse.

There are myriad abuses —landlords defrauding residents with fake rent-to-own scams, forcing a tenant to abandon a trailer because he doesn’t own the land below, refusing to keep up rudimentary health and safety maintenance in the parks and on the mobile homes.

The residents can’t afford to fight, and there is no better option at the ready. They’re stuck.

The thing is, everyone knows. This is a system of entrenched exploitation that’s been allowed to fester for decades.

Going forward we will examine how to stop the cycle. Some changes, like training Justice Court judges better, are fairly simple. Others changes are more complex. But they must happen.