In an op-ed for USA Today, Suzanne Anarde, program vice president for Rural LISC says manufactured homes offer low-income families an affordable housing alternative, and describes her childhood growing up in a manufactured home in New Mexico. Citing improvements in quality and design during the past decade, she says manufactured homes could help solve the affordable housing crisis currently facing the country. It also provides a viable option for those displaced due to hurricanes and other disasters, as a manufactured home may be constructed in about a third to half the time of a traditional house.
Anarde says that manufactured housing, which costs about 20 percent of the average site built home, comes up against significant challenges including restrictive zoning, unregulated practices and difficulty in obtaining regular mortgages. Also, work needs to be done to replace negative stereotypes and derogatory terms.
“For me, this gets personal. I grew up in manufactured housing, first in a singlewide trailer next to my family’s trading post on a Navajo reservation, and later in a brand new doublewide in a New Mexico trailer park. I never knew there was anything wrong with that. It was where my mom was, where I did my homework, where we shared Thanksgiving dinner and put up our Christmas tree. We lived comfortably, with dignity, and it had nothing to do with the public’s attitude toward the physical structure of our house,” Anarde writes.
Some of the newest manufactured homes can be virtually indistinguishable from site-built housing, Anarde says, and many resident-owned communities are building stable, well maintained neighborhoods.