Manufactured housing is an important affordable housing option for low and moderate income families. In the past, manufactured housing has not been a sustainable choice of affordable housing because the homes have been a depreciating asset, often with the home and land owned separately. NeighborWorks Montana is addressing this problem by creating a different model where manufactured homes are appreciating assets and in which homeowners own and control their land.
When a manufactured home is built to high standards of quality, properly financed, on land that is owned or under a long-term lease, and placed on a permanent foundation, the home becomes an appreciating asset that provides the homeowner with financial stability and security. For homeowners living in manufactured home communities, security and financial stability can be gained through cooperative ownership and control of the land. These manufactured housing models are important paths to creating and preserving quality affordable housing.
Manufactured housing represents the largest unsubsidized affordable housing stock in the United States. About 17 million people in the U.S., 8 million of them homeowners, live in manufactured housing. Manufactured homes are particularly important in Montana where lack of affordable housing contributes to shrinking rural communities and the cost of a site-built home often exceeds the appraised market value. Manufactured housing makes up a significant percentage of the Montana housing stock, from 15% in some areas up to 30% in more rural counties, with a total of over 50,000 manufactured homes across the state.
Residents in manufactured home communities may own their homes, but they rent the lots on which their homes sit. This structure of ownership creates instability for the residents who are at risk of displacement if the property is developed for another use. NeighborWorks Montana works with community owners who want to sell and helps the homeowners in the community form a member-owned corporation to purchase their community. The residents then own and operate the community using a cooperative democratic approach. Resident-ownership builds community, stabilizes rents and preserves affordable housing. It provides a fair price to the seller, who can quickly and easily sell the communities to those who know it best - the people that already live there.
Partners in Manufactured Housing
NeighborWorks Montana is fortunate to work with national partners whose programs make high quality manufactured housing an affordable and appreciating asset. Next Step is building a nonprofit distribution system to deliver high quality, energy efficient, factory built housing at scale – affordable housing done right. ROC USA is developing a network of technical assistance organizations and access to financing for manufactured home communities purchases by homeowners.