On March 3, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released a report exploring the use of manufactured housing units as an innovative source of affordable housing, as well as on the barriers to sales, shipment, and on-site placement of these units in urban areas.
The report concludes that these units typically have cost, design, and technological benefits that make them viable as a source of affordable housing. However, regulatory barriers, such as by-right zoning, subdivision ordinances, construction codes, and design standards often thwart installation.
The authors conducted case study analyses of four areas- Oakland, CA, the State of Washington, Pima County, AZ, and Owensboro, KY- which all have successful installations of manufactured units. The findings suggest that unit placements may encounter fewer barriers on infill lots. The report also found that if existing zoning ordinances do not allow manufactured housing by right, it is necessary to create manufactured housing subdivisions. Finally, the authors found a need for local politicians and leadership from the community and nonprofit sectors to embrace manufactured housing. The authors suggest local and state regulatory reforms and tapping into national funding sources such as the Innovations in Manufactured Homes (I’M HOME) initiative by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) to encourage manufactured home installation.
Manufactured housing units are defined as homes built under Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards in a controlled environment and shipped in one or more sections on a permanent chassis. The Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards are administered by HUD and are the only federal, nationwide housing standards.
The report, Regulatory Barriers to Manufactured Housing Placement in Urban Communities can be found at http://www.huduser.org/Publications/pdf/mfghsg_HUD_2011.pdf