WRAL Investigates manufactured housing to ease affordable housing crunch, Congress now involved

30 May 2022

— As North Carolina and the country try to revive the shrinking stock of affordable homes, an ongoing WRAL Investigation heads to Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are looking to the manufactured housing industry as an option.

“No longer are most manufactured homes flimsy tornado magnets,” says Rep. David Price (NC-4).

In a congressional hearing led by Price, lawmakers joined housing advocates to talk about ways to make manufactured homes more accessible.

“Manufactured housing is often overlooked and unfairly maligned,” Lance George with the Housing Assistance Council told lawmakers.

Florida Congressman Rep. Mario Diaz Balart liked what he heard, “The challenge and promise of manufactured housing along with the options for redevelopment.”

Last fall, WRAL Investigates explored the factory efficiency and federal regulations that make the homes far more durable than the stereotypical trailer, hearing from buyers like Elizabeth Goforth, “I was pleasantly surprised at how really nice they are and updated.

“The houses have just improved and improved,” Leslie Gooch told us. Gooch is the CEO of the Manufactured Housing Institute. “We think that HUD needs to give us more of a priority.”

Gooch applauds federal grants to improve mobile home park infrastructure like water and septic and more affordable loan options for buyers especially since some homes can appreciate in value. She says local zoning often locks out new manufactured communities and even replacement of old homes.

Since our conversation with Mayor Mary Ann Baldwin, who talked about the stigma surrounding manufactured housing, Raleigh leaders approved accessory dwelling units, allowing manufactured homes to compete with other tiny house makers for those spots.

“If the federal government is going to be in the business of supporting home ownership in America, HUD code manufactured homes should be a part of that support,” feels Gooch.

Congressional leaders mirror that sentiment. “These are places where people have lived for decades,” says Price.

The average price of a new manufactured home runs about $108,000 without the land. Zillow lists the average site built home at $344,000, which includes the land.

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