A recent study prepared by the Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech and published in the Journal of the American Planning Association (JAPA) concludes that while market factors such as land costs help determine to the number of manufactured homes in any given metropolitan area, regulatory restrictions and lack of education among officials also impede the placement of manufactured homes in urban areas.
The study uses 940 responses from surveys sent to 1,839 cities and counties that were eligible for Community Development Block Group (CDBG) funding under the 2003 criteria to analyze the effects of bias, supply and demand factors, and regulations on the availability of manufactured housing. The respondents to the survey cited as the biggest barriers to manufactured housing in their areas “high land costs” (42.4%), “citizen opposition” (36.1%), and “no new HUD-code parks, communities, or subdivisions approved” (35.6%). The study refers to manufactured housing as “HUD-code” because it is built to comply with the federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards.
Along with results from the survey, further analysis using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Institute of Building Technology and Safety indicated that other barriers to using manufactured housing in urban areas included fire and zoning codes, lack of permits, subdivision regulations and architectural design standards, and by-right zoning allowances. A lack of byright zoning allowances means that developers must go through a special process to bring manufactured housing into an area, an added restriction that often hinders its siting.
The authors conclude that city planners should work toward removing all barriers that hinder the placing of manufactured housing in metropolitan areas. For example, the authors suggest that local code administrators should be better educated on HUD housing code, which, in most cases, preempts local building and fire codes. According to the authors, many local code administrators mistakenly hold the belief that HUD codes for manufactured housing do not comply with local housing codes. If these administrators are better educated on national housing code, they are better prepared to overcome this belief and more likely to approve manufactured housing, the report notes.
Additionally, the authors recommend public education to demonstrate that manufactured housing does not always appear in the form of boxed, temporary homes. Instead, manufactured homes have been modernized and look increasingly akin to site-built homes. Public education should also accurately portray families who live in such homes as valuable neighbors contributing to a community, rather than the transient population that is often associated with manufactured homes. If the regulatory and perception barriers that interfere with the utilization of manufactured housing can be eliminated, the authors find that this type of housing could prove to be a viable source of housing for low income populations.
The study, Overcoming Barriers to Placing Manufactured Housing in Metropolitan Communities, can be found at: http:// www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a917603654