Katherine MacTavish

Academic interests

Kate's research centers on examining how small towns and rural places function for the children and families who call them home. Since 1997, she has been examining contextual factors that shape developmental pathways for children and youth in the distinctly lower-income rural context of a trailer park.


The Silent Crisis in Rural Housing

Kate MacTavish, Ph.D.

Recorded February 2, 2021.

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Advancing Equity and Justice as Part of the Land-Grant Mission

Kate MacTavish, Ph.D.

Recorded May 27, 2022.

This presentation describes the plan for the "Land Grant University for Equity and Justice" initiative, that will build on previous work to advance faculty and student success through the lens of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI).

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While conversations about our nation’s continuing housing crisis often center on the plight of urban households, current economic and social conditions present a unique strain on rural community health.

Associate Professor Kate MacTavish discusses the various health challenges rural families face in a housing crisis and how community development may lead to restoring economic viability, improving quality of life and empowerment and providing Americans means to afford a reliable home in a suitable living environment.

Singlewide: Chasing the American Dream in a Rural Trailer Park
Singlewide book cover
In Singlewide, Sonya Salamon and Katherine MacTavish explore the role of the trailer park as a source of affordable housing. America’s trailer parks, most in rural places, shelter an estimated 12 million people, and the authors show how these parks serve as a private solution to a pressing public need. Singlewide considers the circumstances of families with school-age children in trailer parks serving whites in Illinois, Hispanics in New Mexico, and African Americans in North Carolina. By looking carefully at the daily lives of families who live side by side in rows of manufactured homes, Salamon and MacTavish draw conclusions about the importance of housing, community, and location in the families’ dreams of opportunities and success as signified by eventually owning land and a conventional home.
Working-poor rural families who engage with what Salamon and MacTavish call the "mobile home industrial complex" may become caught in an expensive trap starting with their purchase of a mobile home. A family that must site its trailer in a land-lease trailer park struggles to realize any of the anticipated benefits of homeownership. Seeking to break down stereotypes, Salamon and MacTavish reveal the important place that trailer parks hold within the United States national experience. In so doing, they attempt to integrate and normalize a way of life that many see as outside the mainstream, suggesting that families who live in trailer parks, rather than being "trailer trash," culturally resemble the parks’ neighbors who live in conventional homes.
Interview with BYUradio "The Truth about Trailer Parks"


"Tales From The Trailer Park: An Inside Look At Mobile Home Communities"