Discussion Forum Topic:

Alternative Affordable Housing with Modular Construction
Original Comment:
MHBA Executive Director Tom Hardiman recently met with several key officials in the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to discuss “alternative housing” solutions to help the state bridge the gap of affordable and safe housing. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss ways in which the state, through its various departments and divisions, can address its housing shortfall using more modular and manufactured housing. The primary challenge facing the state is the lack of “traditional” homebuilders available and/or willing to bid on projects.

The state recently received over $90 million dollars through various housing program grants from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The discussions at this meeting focused primarily on the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program and Acquire, Renovate, and Sell (ARS) Program which are funded at about $20 million in this current budget.

There are rules, conditions, and limitations on each of these programs which may be preventing builders from participating. There may also be a general lack of awareness and understanding of the program funding by the modular industry. It was clear from the meeting that the State realizes it cannot meet its goals without changing some of their processes and practices.

The modular industry, through MHBA, has been asked to step up and make policy change recommendations. As such, MHBA is soliciting input from the industry to gauge interest from builders and manufacturers doing business in Virginia to assist in an “alternative housing task force” for the purpose of drafting a series of proposed rule changes.

“Obviously, this effort will look at smaller modular plans and target lower- and middle-income families,” said Hardiman. “But we think that is an area where our industry can have a bigger impact if some of the more burdensome regulations were removed.”

Bigger picture: Virginia is hardly the only state struggling with this. Every state receives CDBG and other housing funds and the shortage of contractors is well documented and widespread. MHBA plans to test this alternative housing effort in Virginia and use the concept to set meetings in other key states, while continuing to advocate for broader regulatory changes for the modular industry.

MHBA is also reaching out to officials in D.C. to arrange meetings in March. While one topic will certainly be the misguided marketing efforts with the manufactured housing industry’s “CrossMod” product, the focus will be on how the modular home industry can help address affordable housing nationally. If you are interested in participating in this conversation, beginning with the Virginia task force, please email Tom Hardiman at: tom@modularhome.org
Started on February 20, 2020 by Tom Hardiman
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