Moving the Vision of I’M HOME Forward

By Stacey Epperson, President and Founder of Next Step

Moving the Vision of I’M HOME Forward

As yet another convening of CFED’s I’M HOME annual conference is in the books, I am more optimistic than ever for the future of manufactured housing, and the staff, board and membership of Next Step are dedicated to moving the vision of I’M HOME forward.

This past week was the culmination of a lot of planning, hard work and determination. The I’M HOME (Innovations in Manufactured Homes) initiative represents more than a decade of work, and in that time thousands of families have received better homes and become a part of more secure communities.

This year’s conference saw a record number of attendees, including affordable housing developers, advocates for fair and affordable housing, manufactured housing experts, community leaders and homeowners, academics and researchers, regulators, and federal, state and local policymakers.

Next Step had the privilege of playing a larger role than ever at this conference. Our staff and board lent their expertise by leading and participating in educational panel discussions and presentations. We also had the opportunity to announce our innovative partnership with Freddie Mac and eHome America, launching a SmartMH lending pilot in Kentucky. With this program, we will be creating a consumer education curriculum for buyers of factory-built homes, and look to expand the number of lenders that originate real property loans on energy-efficient manufactured homes. Alongside Mel Jones, research associate with the Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech, we co-presented the findings of a new study on manufactured housing in Appalachia. The study, Mobile and Manufactured Homes in Central Appalachia and Alabama: Age, Condition and Need for Replacement, looked at the more than 70,000 households living in mobile and manufactured homes in Appalachia, revealing that the majority pay more than 30 percent of their income for utilities, forcing families to make impossible choices for other necessities like food, transportation and health care for children.

We face many challenges as we look to the year ahead, but there is also great opportunity. Together, we can change the narrative of manufactured housing, help shape the policy discussions around energy efficient housing in rural America, expansion of fair mortgage lending, and ensure that homebuyers and families are not dispirited by discriminatory zoning policies.

We thank all of our partners, and those who participated in this year’s I’M HOME conference. Our opportunity is now. Let’s keep this momentum, and collaborate more openly with all participants in the manufactured housing space. Let’s prove together that when done right, a manufactured home is a smart, affordable and energy efficient choice for homebuyers and families.

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