Want more affordable housing? Build more pre-fab homes and trailer parks

Affordable housing can be cheaply provided by building more manufactured homes:

“The manufactured home is probably the most cost-effective way to provide quality affordable housing,” said Donna M. Blaze, the CEO of the Affordable Housing Alliance, which helped provide manufactured homes for Sandy refugees. “Most of our new units are light years ahead of the apartments for rent in today’s market.”

The average sales price for a manufactured home in 2013 was $64,000, according to the Census Bureau, while the average sales price for a single-family home was $324,000. The single-family site-built home includes the land, though, while owners of manufactured homes often have to still grapple with landlords and leasing issues. But the structure itself is nevertheless significantly cheaper: New manufactured homes cost around $43 per square foot; site-built homes cost $93 per square foot…

There are currently about 18 million Americans living in manufactured homes, and the houses make up the largest stock of unsubsidized housing in the country, according to the Manufactured Housing Institute. That is becoming more important as government budgets shrink and Americans prioritize other policy areas over public spending on subsidized housing…

But there are actually fewer of these homes being built than there were two decades ago. While manufactured home builders shipped more than 200,000 units a year through the 1980s and 1990s, last year there was demand for a fraction of that amount, just 60,000, according to the Manufactured Housing Institute.

From one end of the housing market – luxury in NYC – to another. I can only imagine the response in some communities if this is the kind of affordable housing proposed. It is already difficult for many middle- or upper-class communities to promote affordable housing without also having to combat the (unreasonable) stigma of manufactured housing. So even while these homes might be quite cheap, where exactly can they be put?