U.S Congress Manufactured Housing Hearing: Supporting America’s Largest Unsubsidized Affordable Housing Stock
Congressman David Price (D-NC), Chair of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee’s hearing on the – Manufacturer Housing: Supporting America’s Largest Unsubsidized Affordable Housing Stock. Following are excerpts of opening noteworthy comments from Chairman Price.
We are here today to discuss the important role that manufactured housing plays in response to our nation’s affordable housing crisis and some challenges that face manufactured housing communities.
It would be helpful first to clear up some misconceptions about manufactured housing. Long gone are the trailer parks of yore, replaced by manufactured or mobile home parks that are no longer transient but often are established communities – spaces where children grow up and senior citizens find a stable place to live and interact.
And no longer are most manufactured homes “tornado magnets.” Modern-day manufactured housing built to the standards laid out in HUD’s regulatory framework – which we expect updates to – is actually safer and stronger than many houses built on-site.
These are not just temporary or disposable structures; they are homes to more than 3 million people in America. Many live in communities – or mobile home parks – where they often own the home itself, but not the land it sits on.
Though a higher prevalence of homes is located across the South and in Western states, manufactured homes exist across the country, in urban, suburban, and rural areas alike. In my home state of North Carolina, manufactured homes account for almost 13 percent of the state’s housing stock.
While the cost to own or rent a manufactured home is lower than most homes built on-site, residents of manufactured home communities face distinct threats to their homes and way of life.
Historic and continued disinvestment in infrastructure for these communities only serve to exacerbate financial pressures on owners and residents alike.
Those who cannot cut enough corners to make the rent payments find themselves forced to leave their community or even be evicted, including in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For homeowners in these communities, these pressures are all too real. Over the past few years, we’ve seen story after story of predatory takeovers of manufactured home communities by private investment firms seeking a means to a quick profit.
Manufactured home communities can be a source of fast money, but only when they become unaffordable to their residents–or are shuttered and rebuilt as strip malls or market-rate housing. And of course, that is a possibility: These tracts may be taken out of housing altogether, converted to more lucrative uses, and then the residents displaced. Federal policy has long shied away from the issues specific to mobile and manufactured homes, but I believe that is about to change.
There is still much work that needs to be done–and done quickly–alongside these policies to help preserve the affordability of manufactured homes and communities. There is a task for local governments here, from managing land use to enforcing safety and sanitation standards, and a challenge to non-profits and community-minded developers as well. But our focus today is on federal policy – a policy that despite the breadth and diversity of HUD’s portfolio, “has often seen the manufactured housing sector fall through the cracks.”