Jim Ayotte: Factory-built housing will be part of Hurricane Ian’s rebuilding

(SOURCE: Jim Ayotte, Chief Executive Officer of the Florida Manufactured Housing Association, as a guest author at Florida Politics.)

It’s time to end the stigma of mobile homes and acknowledge the reality of what manufactured homes offer.

Most people use the words mobile and manufactured homes interchangeably when in fact, there is a significant distinction.

Mobile homes were built before 1976 and did not adhere to any federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards. In contrast, today’s manufactured homes are the only single-family homes in the U.S. built to stringent construction and safety standards approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

So, unlike old mobile homes, manufactured homes are constructed to withstand the rigors of Florida’s extreme weather.

Like site-built, manufactured homes have come a long way since Hurricane Andrew devastated Florida in 1992. In 1994 wind standards were upgraded for manufactured homes, and in 1999 the state of Florida adopted uniform statewide installation requirements. These two provisions have significantly enhanced the quality, durability, and safety of manufactured homes.

However, the real proof is in the performance.

Industry regulators evaluated over 52,000 mobile and manufactured homes after five hurricanes in 2004-2005 and found that post-1994 manufactured homes did not sustain structural damage.

Another study in 2014 by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) showed that manufactured homes performed better at high winds compared to traditional site-built homes.

Now, Hurricane Ian has exacerbated Florida’s affordable housing crisis. Communities devastated by Ian will rebuild, and manufactured housing will play a big part in the rebuilding effort. Florida’s workforce and seniors rely on precision-built manufactured homes for safe, quality, affordable housing.

It’s time to end the stigma of mobile homes and acknowledge the reality of what manufactured homes offer.

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