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Urban Institute: Manufactured Homes, Preserving Existing Stock Are Keys to Solving Affordable Housing Crisis

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Preservation of housing stock tends to be a more affordable option than new conventional construction, even if it might not be as “sexy,” according to a new Urban Institute report. 


With over 2 million low-income rental units lost in the past decade and affordable housing options shrinking by the day, researchers at the Urban Institute have laid out a handful of ways to address what has become a national crisis.

Stagnant wages for many Americans, coupled with a recession have increased demand for affordable housing, while gentrification, deterioration and loss of subsidies have decreased supply.

According to the UI report released in August, new construction has failed to adequately address the crisis, underscoring the importance of preserving current affordable housing.

Anatomy of a Preservation Deal: Preserving Affordable Housing from Around the United States takes an in-depth look at several successful projects around the country where preservation proved more effective than starting from scratch.

Among the case studies: the Vida-Lea Community Cooperative in Leaburg, Oregon -- a 33-space manufactured home community where residents were able to convert their leased sites into a resident-owned community (ROC).

In this case, residents were able to keep their homes and improve upon them, unlike many affordable, older communities -- both manufactured and site-built -- where properties are bought and razed in favor of new upscale developments.

One defining factor in the preservation scenario relates to local policies, according to the UI report:

"Oregon’s 'Opportunity to Purchase' requires owners of manufactured-housing developments to notify residents if they intend to sell; it also requires sellers to negotiate in good faith if residents are interested in purchasing the property. Also crucial is the legislation that legalized manufactured-housing resident cooperatives: without that, the conversion of Vida Lea would never have happened." takes a look at lessons learned from the Urban Institute case studies, and expands on these revelations with other instances where preservation of existing stock has worked -- and where lack of preservation has resulted in displacement of residents, wasted resources and further shortages of affordable housing for those who need it most.

"Real people, in closing manufactured home communities, are financially and emotionally injured, especially the financially fragile folks who live in our land lease communities," says attorney and manufactured housing industry finance expert, Marty Lavin.

Preservation carries with it a number of benefits: It’s generally less expensive than new construction (about one-half to two-thirds as much), it lets people stay in their homes, and it is already integrated into land-use patterns, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

For links to the full UI report and insights into the affordable housing issues it raises, see writer Joe Dyton's story here at ## and are the leading trade publications for consumers, manufactured homeowners, MH industry leaders, investors and public policy professionals who want up-to-date lifestyle and business news.

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