According to Ned Fowler, the founder and executive director of the Northwest Regional Housing Authority, there are 8,100 manufactured homes (MH) in Wilkes County, North Carolina, and 5,500 are pre-1976 factory-built homes. At a meeting of city and county officials, Fowler said there are 2,502 renters and 2,380 owners in the county, and 49 percent of owners and 86 percent of renters make less than $20,000 annually. According to journalpatriot.com, the fair market rent for a modest two-bedroom home is $610 a month, which would require a wage of $11.73 per hour, 40 hours a week. However, the average wage in Wilkes County is $8.85, leaving nearly a $3.00 per hour gap, and the growing demand for rentals is driving the price up and further limiting choices for lower incomes.
North Wilkesboro Commissioner Debbie Ferguson said the aging factory-built homes will not be habitable within five years. “Bathtubs will fall through the floor. I have been told that the walls are not strong enough to hold the weight of someone who goes on the roof to repair a leak. In a few years, these structures will have outlived their expected lives,” she noted, adding some of the homes cost $200 or more a month just to heat. One suggestion was to help homeowners build tiny homes on sites already existing in manufactured home communities. Another option would be to require builders to provide a certain amount of new housing available for low income occupants, but currently the state does not have enough tax credits to keep up with the demand. As MHProNews understands, the consensus was the need to talk to state legislators to increase the amount of tax credits available for affordable housing in the county. ##
(Editor’s Note: The article, Dirty Laundry, has a strong connection to this kind of ‘aging mobile homes’ challenge.)
(Photo credit: Matthew J. Silver/MHProNews-pre HUD Code mobile home.)