An Examination of Manufactured Housing as a Community- and Asset-Building Strategy, Harvard JCHS, NeighborWorks, Ford Foundation


It’s a landmark document that is perhaps more relevant now than when it was first published.


It’s the report to the Ford Foundation by Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, done in collaboration with the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) of Harvard University.


The Daily Business News has cited Harvard’s JCHS numerous times before, and in the light of the recently submitted comments to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and numerous other ongoing industry-related controversies, another look at this report is as timely as ever. The document was produced by:

  • William Apgar, Joint Center for Housing Studies
  • Allegra Calder, Joint Center for Housing Studies
  • Michael Collins, Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation
  • Mark Duda, Joint Center for Housing Studies

Here are the top-lines, with a few selected graphics and the complete report at the end, provided as a download.





An increasing share of lower-income families, the same population targeted by community-development organizations, are opting to live in housing that was built off-site in a factory to meet the performance standards of the national HUD manufactured-housing code.

However, most community-development practitioners are just beginning to come to terms with the implications of manufactured housing for their work. This paper explores advantages and disadvantages of manufactured housing for those entities whose mission is community development and asset building.

Note, this research and data were done in 2002. Several studies since have come to similar conclusions, for example, the HUD Commissioned PD&R in 2008 that examined manufactured homes that appreciated side-by-side with conventional housing, and research by Trulia in 2016.

Several challenges are presented for practitioners: First, working to educate consumers while also creating financing processes that ensure manufactured home buyers obtain credit on the best terms for which they can qualify.

Second, using the increased scrutiny under the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 to advocate for states to enforce more rigorous installation standards and increased accountability.

Third, working to overcome land-use controls which prevent manufactured homes from being placed in communities in need of affordable housing, as well as areas with more potential for appreciation. Fourth, working with designers and planners to develop innovative designs and housing developments, while maintaining manufactured housing’s affordability advantages.


Finally, equal effort must be devoted to address the difficult conditions of many lower-income people—owners and renters alike—living in older, and often deteriorating, mobile homes. While a few of these families and individuals could be relocated to new and better quality homes with the help of subsidies, resource limitations suggest the need to create cost-effective methods to eliminate health and safety problems by upgrading or rehabilitating this extremely affordable element of the nation’s housing inventory.

As a companion to this paper, an exhaustive literature review has been compiled.”

Note, this graphic will be updated with the link to Rev, Tye’s comments, later today.

The Tye Family, a Living Case Study

The Rev. Donald Tye dives into the question, since manufactured housing could solving the need for millions of Americans of all backgrounds today for quality, affordable housing that can grow in value, why isn’t it being more utilized?

The Trulia study reflects a similar finding of a report commissioned by HUD that studied the impact of manufactured homes installed side-by-side as infill in a variety of urban markets. Both conventional and manufactured homes appreciated, there was no harmful impact. That report is available as a download from the MHLivingNews article, linked above.

Tye’s take is found in an Industry Voices guest column, is linked from the graphic with his quote and photo, above.

The NeighoborWorks/Harvard JCHS report to the Ford Foundation, is linked here.   ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)


A previously cited quote and a related report from Harvard’s Eric Belsky is found via the linked quote/photo, below.  Following that is a new finance focused report.  For the opportunity for appreciation in manufactured housing, or conventional housing, to exist there are several factors are needed.  Among them is a reliable supply of credit.  So the quotes from Belsky, and the others linked articles below are important, related topics.


Plot Twist – Duty to Serve – Freddie Mac CEO Layton Called to Accountability w/Congressional, Administration Leaders Over New Manufactured Home Lending Revelations

Appealing Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) Marketing, Finance Booklet Reviewed

Housing, Jobs, Poverty, Opportunity – Kerner Commission Remix, HUD and Manufactured Homes

Getting More Manufactured Home Financing Options?  HUD Comments Provide Unique Door,

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(Third party images, and cites are provided under fair use guidelines.)

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