In order for any home to be a good investment for a family, a certain set of conditions must be true: the home must be well built and installed; the homeowner must own, or at least have long-term control over, the land beneath their home; the home must be financed with fair and affordable terms; and, finally, homeowners must be able to sell the home at a fair value when they move. For site-built homes, nearly every condition required to make a home a safe, valuable, appreciable investment is protected by public policies at the federal, state and local levels.
However, because of policies with roots in the travel trailer industry, manufactured homes often lack key public policy protections that would enable homeowners to build wealth through homeownership. The Innovations in Manufactured Homes (I’M HOME) initiative was designed to ensure that families living in manufactured homes do have the opportunity to build wealth over time like their neighbors in site-built housing. To that end, the I’M HOME initiative focuses substantial energy on reforming the policy environment so that, at a minimum, manufactured housing receives the same treatment as any other housing.
Our policy strategy directly supports our efforts to deliver market-driven manufactured housing solutions at scale, whether in the sphere of community preservation and resident ownership, new and replacement development or mortgage finance. Our current federal and state policy priorities focus on the following areas:
- Integrating manufactured housing into existing federal homeownership and housing-related programs, and ensuring that these programs work well for manufactured home buyers and lenders. This includes not just individual homes but also resident-owned communities.
- Developing consumer protection laws and regulations that treat owners of manufactured homes equally. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s mandate for policy change provides it with the power to bring manufactured home lending into the mainstream of housing finance. Check out recent federal comment letters on ability-to-repay standards and mortgage disclosure requirements to get a better understanding of how these issues relate to manufactured housing.
- Promoting manufactured home titling statute reform so that homeowners can more easily convert their homes to real property to access consumer protections and mortgage financing that make owning a home a good investment.
- Creating policy incentives for manufactured home community residents (or other benevolent owners) to purchase their communities. Resident opportunity to purchase laws and state and federal tax benefits for selling a community to residents or nonprofit buyers makes it easier for homeowners to gain long-term control over the land beneath their homes.
I’M HOME draws input from and plays a coordinating role across a diverse set of partners including affordable housing developers like Next Step Network Members; organizers who help manufactured home community residents purchase their communities as cooperatives like ROC USA Certified Technical Assistance Providers; lenders; legal service providers and policy advocates like the National Consumer Law Center; and most importantly, homeowners as represented by the National Manufactured Home Owners Association (NMHOA). Though our partners may not share each of our policy priorities, they all play critical roles in shaping and implementing them over time.