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The Inclusive Economy

Opportunities Abound for Manufactured Housing

By Doug Ryan on 11/12/2015 @ 10:00 AM

Tags: Events, Housing and Homeownership, News

In October, one message became clear: manufactured housing is already a critical part of the nation’s affordable housing solution. The message was reinforced during CFED’s 11th annual Innovations in Manufactured Homes (I’M HOME) Conference—the largest manufactured housing event in the nation focused on affordability and sustainability—held two weeks ago in Minneapolis. The Conference, which was supported by NeighborWorks America, Wells Fargo Housing Foundation, Ford Foundation and the McKnight Foundation, covered a wide array of topics. Discussions ranged from the importance of reaching populations that are too often shunned by the mainstream—such as persons with disabilities, those in rural America or communities on tribal lands—to advancing new ways of lending through Duty to Serve obligations, state housing finance agencies or local credit unions.

The three plenary sessions, nine breakout sessions and seven roundtable discussions offered the 175 I’M HOME Conference participants a range of solutions and challenges to explore. These sessions reflected the priorities of the I’M HOME Network, such as sustainable homeownership, good public policy and access to single-family finance. We have met about these topics before, but the Conference was meaningful because it demonstrated—through shared priorities among diverse stakeholders and emerging opportunities to pilot programs and policies across the country—that the movement can achieve scale.

Now that we’re home from Minnesota, we’re seizing the opportunity to advance I’M HOME’s agenda in the wake of this powerful gathering. In the coming months, with our partners at ROC USA, Next Step, NeighborWorks America, Wells Fargo Housing Foundation and others, CFED will prioritize opportunities within specific housing markets, as well as policy and product innovations that prove why manufactured housing matters.

As important as the Conference has been for our ongoing affordable housing work, it’s only one step in our effort to expand the base of advocates and partners advancing the manufactured housing sector. Earlier in October, we convened leaders from Colorado to discuss how manufactured housing development and preservation can advance homeownership in the increasingly expensive Denver metropolitan market and beyond. In addition, with the California Coalition for Rural Housing, we conferred with state leaders in Sacramento to rethink strategies in the Golden State. In January 2016, leaders in Oregon will come together in Portland to have similar discussions.

There is movement in other states, too. Just a few months ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched a pilot in New Hampshire and Vermont to facilitate the use of the 502 direct and guaranteed loan programs to finance new high-efficiency manufactured homes. With ROC USA and Next Step, we can lay the groundwork to make this pilot a success so it can expand into other states. Additionally, the latest indications suggest the Federal Housing Finance Agency will release the proposed Duty to Serve rules this month. We will harness the momentum of the 2016 I’M HOME Conference to ensure that comments on these proposed rules reflect the priorities and needs of homebuyers and communities across the country.

The I’M HOME Conference was a great reminder of the ingenuity and dedication of the leaders of the manufactured housing movement. Now, we have a clearer vision of how to take the next steps together, and we look forward to advancing our goal of putting safe, affordable homeownership within reach for millions of low-income families.

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