Manufactured Housing Myths, Attitudes, and “Fake News” Still Out There After All These Years

Regarding manufactured housing myths – when is a house not a home? Apparently in Kilgore, Texas … when it’s factory built.

For over 40 years the manufactured home industry has fought a long uphill battle trying to distance today’s modern manufactured home from the long gone “mobile home” of yesteryear, with mixed results, until the last few years.

Here at MFH we are constantly observing and reporting actions and attitudes regarding manufactured homes by local, state and national housing authorities across the nation. In the recent past, we have seen encouraging trends indicating city councils, planning/zoning agencies and political entities are recognizing that manufactured homes represent quality built, affordable housing comparable in every respect to traditional site built homes. Easily customizable and available at  50% less than the average traditional stick-built home, these modular homes compliment the goals of those municipalities and their citizen’s aspirations for homeownership.

While many of these local municipalities are recognizing the value of manufactured homes for those residing within their communities, unfortunately, there are those that still hang on to the myths and attitudes that have plagued the American dream of homeownership. While progress has been made, the following examples demonstrate the simple fact the industry still has a way to go before changing those archaic misconceptions.   

Addressing manufactured housing myths

Addressing the manufactured housing myths

Kilgore, Texas addresses manufactured housing myths

“What’s there is there. You can’t add any additional manufactured or mobile home nor can the one that’s there be replaced with an additional one. YOU HAVE TO BUILD A HOUSE THERE!” said Kilgore, Texas Planning, and Zoning Director Carol Windham, reports the Longview News JournalThat emphatic declaration by Windham was espoused at a public hearing considering a proposal to establish beautification regulations along nine highways in the city. Planning and zoning commissioners voted 4-1 to approve the new regulations. The proposal moves to the Kilgore City Council for final consideration March 14 after a second public hearing. There were five residents attending the public hearing but did not speak. Commissioner Bobby Hale cast the only vote against the overlay district. The regulations cause undue expenses that, no matter how small, could push prospective employers away from Kilgore, he said. “You can pretty it up as much as you want, but we are an oilfield town, Hale said, and I just feel like at this particular time in our economy, that we don’t need to be adding an ordinance to buildings or people trying to come to the city helping business. Though it may be just a couple of thousand dollars, it’s still in their budget.” For some of the proposed residential changes are minimal, for others … not so much.  Those residents which have purchased new manufactured housing will not be allowed in the corridor district, said Windham. Joining our shortsighted city officials in Kilgore, Texas, our second manufactured home story from Shreveport, La. has similar characteristics as the Kilgore report – but with a twist.

Louisiana residents ask … when is a house not a mobile home?

Shreveport, Louisiana has its own manufactured housing myths to address

Bias against manufactured homes is often inherent within housing authorities but also reinforced by “nimby’s” (not-in-my-backyard). It’s these homeowners who view manufactured homes (“mobile homes”) as a threat to the preservation of home values in their neighborhood. Vigilant and poised to voice their concerns about the placement of “mobile homes” in our near their site built home locations, these homeowners are always on high alert. Last week their fears seem warranted as a house that looked like a mobile home was spotted in Shreveport’s Highland neighborhood. After gaining attention from upset people living in the nearby Fairfield historic district, residents of Fairfield began taking to social media and reaching out to the city council, as well as KTBS 3 News. Upset by the perceived mobile home popping up in their historic district neighborhood, neighbors reached out to the local media. KTBS 3 aired the following headline on-air and online, “Residents in Historic District Against Manufactured Home.” The home is in the 2300 block of Thornwell Avenue between Dalzell and Boulevard Street. Although that’s not inside the Fairfield historic district, residents around the property that are within the historic district boundaries feel this home that popped up just days ago is out of place. Neighbors say it looks like a mobile home. Other than the mobile home design, one of the main issues people are concerned about is how it’s facing the road and like a mobile home; rather than sitting sideways on the lot. The President of the Highland Restoration Association has been very vocal about his concerns regarding this newly placed property. He says it could affect property values in the area. “If I’m trying to sell a house on that block and people have to walk by this very unattractive out of place structure — they will be less willing to pay the same price if they can buy a similar house in another neighborhood that didn’t have that problem.”  The president of the Association says it could affect property values in the area.  After getting plenty of complaints, City Councilman Jeff Everson discovered – alas! That mobile home was not a mobile home after all. It was actually is a stick built home relocated from Converse, Louisiana, in Sabine Parish. Moved to Shreveport without a city permit, Everson says the owner does not acknowledge wrongdoing. “She expressed that it may not be the business of her neighbors if she had a permit or not, but it is–to be in compliance with city laws. Everyone has to do that. It’s nothing personal,” said Everson. It is probably not a coincidence that the news headline about the manufactured home was composed and presented on air and online after the determination that the mystery home was not a mobile home or a manufactured home. Can you say “fake news.” The manufactured housing industry has made progress in dispelling myths and affirming realities of today’s modern manufactured homes and modular homes, there is still much to be accomplished, especially in combating discriminatory housing authorities, nimby influences, and media mischaracterizations.

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