Some Data points
- There are 8.5 million mobile homes in the United States, about 6.3 percent of the total housing stock. One third are in four states – Florida, Texas, North Carolina, and California. Nationally, 5.6 percent of households live in mobile homes, but for some states the percentage is much higher – South Carolina (16.2 percent), New Mexico (15.8 percent), West Virginia (14.5 percent), and Mississippi (14.3 percent).
- Data for North Carolina show that even though 60 percent of mobile homes are in metro areas, mobile homes account for 22 percent of the housing stock in nonmetro areas compared with 10 percent in metro areas.
- The first national regulations governing the quality of the manufacture and installation of mobile homes were introduced in 1976, and these were revised and strengthened in 1994. 1.9 million mobile homes were installed before 1980 – that’s over 28 percent of the total – with California, Florida, and Texas having the largest numbers, and Alaska, California, Massachusetts, and Nebraska all with over half of their stock older than 1980. In fact, over 80 percent of all mobile homes are over 20 years old, of which most are likely to have issues of low energy efficiency (very high fuel bills) and general deterioration.
- Contributing to the generally negative view of mobile homes is the fact that 1 in 5 are vacant. Some are in the process of being sold or rented and some are used for seasonal, recreational, or occasional use, but a quarter of the vacant homes are abandoned, creating environmental and public health challenges for neighbors and local governments across rural America. Census data indicates that at a minimum, there are 42,000 abandoned mobile homes in Florida, 36,000 in Texas, and 26,000 in North Carolina.
Some Policy Priorities
- Although manufactured homes offer the possibility of high quality and reasonable cost, the reality for many owners and tenants is very different. A web of financial and legal peculiarities trap occupants in sub-standard, poorly located, and energy inefficient homes generally out-of-sight and out-of-mind. Apart from major investment in permanent, conventional affordable housing across rural America so that lower-income families can have real choices, there are five policy shifts that could make a difference.
- Re-shape the market through improved design standards, EnergyStar compliance, installation and siting standards, networking, and policy advocacy.
- Strengthen regulations, enforcement, and certification to ensure a proper balance between affordability and safety, leading to statewide minimum housing standards, more effective flood zone standards for mobile homes, regulation of re-sales, and mandatory installer training, licensing and bonding.
- Encourage comprehensive improvements to mobile home parks through incentives for park ownership transfers to resident-owned cooperatives, nonprofit agencies, and land trusts, and funding for infrastructure connections and upgrades.
- Expand home occupant counseling and education focusing on financing options and occupant responsibilities for energy efficiency and essential maintenance.
- Decommission of abandoned mobile homes leading to their deconstruction and removal and to tackling issues of titling and heirs’ rights.