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Cancer Cures and the Affordable Housing Crisis

What if there were a true cure for cancer, but for whatever reason, the medical profession failed to embrace it? Or what if some MDs embraced the hypothetical cure, but others and most public officials turned their nose up at the solution, allegedly because it was more profitable to keep the status quo than it would be to cure the disease? For everyone who suffered and died needlessly, such a ‘what if’ situation would be tragic indeed.

America is in the throes of an affordable housing crisis. Who says? Harvard University among others. The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, in their 2012 study, The State of the Nation’s Housing, stated:

According to the latest American Community Survey, 42 million households (37 percent) pay more than 30 percent of income for housing (moderate burden), while 20.2 million (18 percent) pay more than half (severe burden). Between 2001 and 2010, the number of severely cost-burdened households climbed by a staggering 6.4 million.”

Based upon U.S. Census Bureau reports, the United States needs 20,000,000 new housing units by the year 2030. Incomes are down in the U.S.. 10,000 Baby Boomers a day are retiring, yet half of those don’t have enough for their retirement. Government debt is at record levels, and bureaucrats complain of strained budgets, so don’t expect massive new housing initiatives.

In the Democracy Journal, Paul Bradley and George McCarthy wrote:

The quality of the (manufactured) homes themselves has, since federal building codes were introduced in 1976, improved dramatically. The change from “trailers” to “manufactured homes” is not merely a marketing ploy—it represents a shift away from post-World War II travel trailers used to temporarily house a new industrial workforce to factory-built homes that many passersby would be hard-pressed to differentiate from homes built by contractors on site. Today’s manufactured homes have the same amenities as traditional housing and are, on average, far more energy efficient. Nationally, the average new single-section (often called “single-wide”) home sold for $40,600 in 2011. New two-section homes sold for an average of $74,200, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By comparison, the average sale price for a site-built home (including land) in 2010, the last year for which Census data are available, was $272,900.”

Bradley and McCarthy have politely explained why no one should call today’s manufactured homes a ‘trailer.’ The ‘T Word’ is as unjustly used towards a manufactured homes as it would be to conventional housing, which also arrives at the building site in trucks and trailers before it is assembled. Only ignorance, malice or bad habits would cause someone to use the T-Word today to describe modern factory built homes.

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Cavco Industries CEO and Chairman, Joe Stegmayer,
standing in the kitchen of a model manufactured home.

When the Census Bureau states that the cost of building new conventional housing is virtually double the cost of building new manufactured homes, the solution is obvious. So why don’t more embrace this obvious solution of today’s manufactured homes?

The question has many answers. There are widespread misunderstandings among the media, public officials and most Americans about the ‘mobile homes’ that have not been built since June 15, of 1976 versus the quality, appeal, low maintenance, energy-saving affordability of today’s modern manufactured homes.

This Canadian news video points to a key part of the issue facing manufactured homes today.

Public policy in many cases is at the heart of the problem. As the Canadian news report revealed, rent control measures actually limit the very affordable housing options they are designed to ‘protect.’ The media often showcases stories of ‘park closures’ or other negative stereotypical stories. But the media all too often fails to go deep enough to point to the causes of those closures or other sad tales. This video report went beyond the surface, and began to point out that it was rent control – public policies – that were at the heart of the problem.

Well intended, but misguided, rent control is not the only challenge.

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Mariners Cove, DE – courtesy of Equity Lifestyle Properties (ELS).

Then there is “NIMBY,” “Not In My Back Yard.” People don’t think about communities like the ones shown as manufactured home communities, rather they think about the old, run down ‘mobile home park’ of yesteryear, which may be suffering precisely because of poor public policy!

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Woodcreek Living MHC, Traverse City, MI

ManufacturedHomeLivingNews plans to do a report on a ‘turn around’ community project. Publicly trade UMH Properties acquired an older ‘mobile home park’ about a year ago. In the months that followed, a UMH executive told us they swung into motion to turn the location into a far more appealing and livable manufactured home community.

Despite the problems of the past, the tide may be turning.

Let’s keep in mind that a product doesn’t have to be perfect to be good. Manufactured homes have suffered under an image issue based often upon myths that melt away once the facts are revealed.

We may not be able to cure cancer today. But we know one key to the cure to America’s affordable housing crisis. No other form of permanent housing even comes close to being able to provide the quality, energy efficient, appealing and durable homes for the price of modern manufactured homes.

Public officials, the media, non-profits, think-tanks, investors, businesses, factory built home industry professionals – and the public at large – must learn how to pull together for the benefit of all. ##

(Editor’s note: You can download the Harvard report,State of the Nation’s Housing, at this link. Please keep in mind that an obvious part of the solution are found in the facts presented in this article and throughout ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.)

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