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Billionaire Sees Shipping Containers as Homeless Solution

April 11th, 2017 Comments off
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Homeless encampment residents watch it being destroyed in San Jose, CA. Credit: Bloomberg.

In the San Francisco Bay Area of California, housing, along with most everything else, is very expensive. In many cities in the region, this disparity creates a toxic combination: an affordable housing crunch and rampant homelessness.

A billionaire in the area believes that the solution lies in repurposing shipping containers.

According to HousingWire, Santa Clara based real estate developer John Sobrato recently unveiled a proposal to build 200 micro apartments for both homeless and low-income renters, utilizing shipping containers, turning them into units between 160 and 240 square feet with kitchenettes and bathrooms with showers.

I think it’s time to turn my attention to creating a very cost-effective solution to housing the homeless and very low-income people,” said Sobrato.

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John Sabrato. Credit: Forbes.

Instead of sleeping in a pup tent or under an overpass, Santa Clara homeless folks will have a clean, dignified, safe place to call home.”

Sobrato plans to lease a 2.5-acre plot of city-owned land three miles from the San Francisco 49ers football stadium, which the city acquired in 2005 with the intention of creating affordable housing.

Funding for that plan fell through, and in October of last year Sobrato approached the city with his idea.

Per Bloomberg, Sobrato asked for a 57-year lease at the cost of $1 a year. In return, his group, the Sobrato Organization, would build and own the apartments, then lease them back to Santa Clara County, which would hire property management and homeless service providers.

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The proposed area for development. Credits: Google, The Petition Site.

The project, called Innovation Place, would be projected to open in 2018, with half of the apartments being rented to the homeless, and the other half being made available to renters earning between 50 and 80 percent of the area’s median income.

 

NIMBY?

While many see Sobrato’s idea as noble, there are those that disagree. An anonymous petition began to circulate shortly after Sobrato presented his plan, and has 852 supporters.

While some may disagree, the numbers show that the need for affordable housing is the state is dire: 17 ballot measures were on the ballot last November dealing with affordable housing.

The Daily Business News has covered a number of potential NIMBY (Not-In-My-Back-Yard) stories recently, where current residents appear to be working to keep manufactured homes or other affordable housing options for communities out.

Most notable is the case in Aiken, South Carolinawhere Councilman Danny Feagin was quoted as saying “As long as it keeps the mobile home parks [sic] out, I think the folks would be satisfied,” in relation to a proposed rezoning ordinance.

For more on shipping containers being used to solve the growing affordable housing crisis around the world, click here. ##

 

(Image credits are as shown above.)

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

Modular Housing Serves as Affordable Housing Solution

March 29th, 2017 Comments off
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Credit: 24 Housing.

The trend of municipalities turning to manufactured and modular homes as a solution to housing shortages continues to grow.

In the U.K., recently completed modular housing developments have been slated to serve first time homebuyers and workers in South London.

According to 24 Housing, Vision Modular Systems, in partnership with construction firm Donban Contracting, has completed two finished blocks of modular housing, and turned them over to Pocket Living, an affordable housing provider that only sells to first-time buyers.

Partnering with Pocket Living on multiple projects has allowed us to deliver vital new housing for first-time buyers and key workers who underpin the very fabric of our cities,said Kieran White, managing director at Vision Modular Systems.

Built using 162 modules, the homes were constructed inside a factory in Bedford using production-line techniques, which, as Daily Business News readers are already aware, allows for better quality control, faster delivery, reduction of waste and contributes to  higher levels of energy efficiency.

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A prefab home in progress on site. Credit: Reuters.

All of the buildings that Pocket Living operates are community focused, with shared spaces, including roof terraces. Tim Western, a director at U.K. property giant JLL, who believes modular is the way forward, has proposed a similar plan.

Off-site construction in the UK is growing 25 percent per year. This technique results in a 30 percent reduction in build time, a 75 percent reduction in workforce and 40 percent less vehicle movements, meaning that modular housing is likely to drive a huge change in how homes get built over the next five years, said Western.

Homes manufactured like cars, in other words off-site in a factory, with the opportunity to pick and choose what goes into a basic structure, will bring ‘car quality’ to the market.

Traditional site built developments of this scale in the U.K. can take up to two years to complete, putting additional pressure on housing inventory. Modular provides a practical solution to the problem.

Getting high-quality homes built quickly is key to solving the housing crisis. Modular techniques will play an increasingly important role in meeting this challenge and, through our partnership with Donban and Vision Modular, over a quarter of Pocket’s future pipeline will be built through modular construction,” said Marc Vlessing, chief executive of Pocket Living.

For modular to really take off as a viable construction method, the government and lenders should look at making it easier for SMEs to access the working capital needed to take advantage of its benefits.

For more on modular housing in the U.K., including major builders making moves into the modular space, click here. ##

 

(Image credits are as shown above.)

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

As Deadline Looms, FEMA Wants Money

March 13th, 2017 Comments off
AsDeadlineLoomsFEMAWantsMoneycreditCalaverasEnterprise-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

A FEMA home in Calaveras County. Credit: Calaveras Enterprise

In Calaveras County, California, the Butte Fire had a significant impact on the area, putting a number of area residents into temporary Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) housing.

Eighteen months later, some residents are still in their FEMA homes, looking for permanent housing. And now, FEMA says they are out of time.

According to the Calaveras Enterprise, the families will have to make the decision on whether or not they want to continue to stay in the homes or pack up and move, as the 18-month housing assistance deadline is coming up later this month.

The initial deadline, March 22, was extended via a state request to Sept. 22 for homeowners who have struggled to find permanent housing. However, during that period, homeowners are required to pay rent based at fair market value for each unit,” said Kelly Hudson, a FEMA spokeswoman for the region.

For resident Camille Green, the news is particularly difficult given her circumstances due to the fire.

Total wipeout, completely wiped out,” said Green. “Everything, completely everything. I didn’t even get my birth certificate out. Just grabbed anything with a heartbeat.

And that makes the news from FEMA hard to swallow. Green relies on social security and has limited room for things like moving in her budget.

It’s almost two years later and I’m still in a FEMA village,” said Green. “They are basically saying pay or get out.

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The location of the Butte Fire. Credit: Wikipedia.

Resident Barbara Zelmer lives near Green and faces a similar situation, including healthcare and rebuilding costs for her lost home.

If I pay rent here, it’s going to put me on a deficit,” said Zelmer. “It’s going to put me in debt. If I have to pay rent here, I won’t be able to rebuild.

If I use the money I have and put it toward rebuilding (the money I received from the government) or if I use that toward rent, I’ll be rendered homeless either way if I don’t do something,” said Zelmer.

Green says that, as an owner, the idea of paying rent does not make sense.

I have to pay those land taxes no matter what I’m at,” said Green. “I don’t have the funds to pay for my land out there and stay somewhere else.

Green is considering getting a simple home and putting it on her land.

I’m stuck between a rock and a harder place. I can get along. I can haul water there, but I’m getting older and I’m not in good health, so at this point, I cannot get out there and take care of myself properly.

Zelmer agrees, and says that living in a FEMA unit isn’t high on her list of things to do.

To pay $800-or-something a month when I own my land?” asked Zelmer.

I shouldn’t have to pay rent; I’m an owner. I just need help getting home.

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A home damaged during the Butte Fire. Credit: Calaveras Enterprise.

Even with the challenges, both Green and Zelmer are hopeful that they will be out of the FEMA homes and back onto their land, with newly built homes, well before the FEMA deadline.

We want to go home. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to have this place, but as you can see, it’s not very homey, and I did that on purpose; it’s temporary housing,” said Green.

The land still calls me and I will go home, and I will have a good life there. But as I look out across the valleys, my property is forever changed, no way to get around that.

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Rep. Jason Chaffetz. Official Photo.

For more on the challenges that FEMA faces in delivering services, including the case of House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (HOGR) chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) demanding answers after discovering a slew of problems with FEMA’s use of post-disaster temporary housing in Louisiana, click here. ##

 

(Image credits are as shown above.)

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

Ben Carson Confirmed as HUD Secretary, MHI and MHARR Commentary

March 2nd, 2017 Comments off
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Ben Carson prepares to endorse Donald Trump. Credit: ZeroHedge.

The Senate, in a 58-41 vote Thursday, has confirmed Dr. Ben Carson to be the next Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Carson’s nomination was approved by a bi-partisan majority of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee in a vote on January 24, 2017.

Dr. Carson’s then-pending confirmation came up during the MHI meeting in San Antonio, February 12-14th.

MHI’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Chief Lobbyist, Lesli Gooch, Ph.D. created some hallway buzz among members after her briefing on Monday, February 13th.

Gooch told members during her presentation that she had received an email

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Lesli Gooch. Credit: MHI.

from an inside source that predicted Dr. Carson would be confirmed that Friday [Feb 17th],” a MHI connected source in attendance told MHProNews.

That proved to be incorrect,” another source said, “which those who know Washington [D.C.] well would have known, because senators routinely take off on Friday to travel home.”

The Daily Business News was advised that Gooch said there would be heavy engagement of HUD by MHI, once Carson was confirmed.

When MHProNews asked MHI staff and senior members during the meeting if they favor keeping Pam Danner on at HUD, the reply was that the issue had not yet been decided by the executive committee.

MHARR’s Viewpoint

M.Mark.WeissJDPresidentCEOMHARRManufacturedHousingAssociationforRegulatorReform-creditManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsThe Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) tells MHProNews that Secretary Carson has promised to conduct an objective, ground-up assessment of the effectiveness of HUD programs upon his arrival at the Department, in order to both promote efficiency and achieve better results for the millions of Americans in need of safe, decent and affordable housing. Dr. Carson has also indicated that one of his first initiatives as Secretary will be a nationwide “listening tour” regarding the operation of those programs and the housing needs of Americans.

MHARR says that an item of particular importance for the HUD Code manufactured housing industry, as the nation’s private-sector affordable housing solution, is Dr. Carson’s comments at his January confirmation hearing.

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Credit: MHARR, Wikipedia.

At that time, Secretary Carson emphasized the importance of private sector involvement and public-private initiatives to more effectively meet HUD’s mission and serve the affordable housing needs of lower and moderate-income Americans. Equally important for the HUD Code manufactured housing industry, particularly its smaller businesses that have suffered for nearly a decade under costly regulation, will be a commitment by Carson to fully and properly implement all remaining reform elements of the landmark Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000. This also includes President Trump’s signature policy of eliminating unnecessary, job-killing federal regulation.

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M. Mark Weiss. Credit: MHProNews.

MHARR congratulates Dr. Carson on his Senate confirmation to be the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and looks forward to working with him to advance the role, the utilization and the affordability of manufactured housing – which must be federally-regulated because of its fundamentally interstate character — across the entire range of HUD housing and housing finance programs, and beyond,said MHARR President and CEO, Mark Weiss.

Under Dr. Carson’s leadership and in accordance with the mandate of the 2000 reform law, the status and role of the HUD manufactured housing program should be elevated within HUD, while the participation of manufactured housing within all HUD programs, on the same terms and same basis as other types of housing, is ensured.

A full release from MHARR on Secretary Carson’s confirmation is linked here.

MHProNews and MHLivingNews publisher L.A. “Tony” Kovach penned an open letter to Dr. Carson, which is linked here. ##

 

(Image credits are as shown above.)

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

MH Presented as Solution for Affordable Housing

February 24th, 2017 Comments off
MHPresentedasSolutionforAffordableHousingcreditKRISTV-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

Credit: KRIS TV.

In Corpus Christi, Texas, Andy Taubman has once again presented manufactured housing as an affordable solution to an ongoing challenge for the city.

Taubman, former chairman of the Streets Committee, believes that using manufactured homes as infill is viable, and has proposed the solution to the city council on two separate occasions in the past. He has also been willing to place two manufactured homes at his cost on property he owns as a demonstration.

According to the Caller-Times, Taubman’s proposal last year drew criticism from former council members, in part because of questions about how long the homes would last.

When Taubman presented to the council this week, he said once again that he would self-fund two demonstration projects on lots he already owns, and the design of the homes would have a similar look to traditional pier-and-beam constructed homes.

The council responded with strong support for Taubman’s proposal.

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Andy Taubman. Credit: The Paper Trail.

It’s the right path to resolve an issue we’ve had for a long time,” said City Councilwoman Paulette Guajardo.

The council made a motion directing city staff to work with Taubman to evaluate manufactured housing as a possibility to help address affordable housing options.

A follow-up presentation from Taubman is planned for March 21.

The city is interested in affordable housing but so far it’s all been talk,” said City Councilman Joe McComb.

So this may move it down the football field a little bit.

McComb also said he was looking forward to seeing the demonstration projects, noting that Taubman believes enough in the model to put his own money into it.

In addition to Taubman’s proposal, city leaders have several options under consideration, some of which are seeking the council’s support to secure government grant money to build.

As Daily Business News readers are aware, MHProNews and MHLivingNews continue to cover the challenges as well as the numerous advantages that the manufactured housing industry provides in the U.S., making affordable, quality housing easily available to most of the population.

MHProNews and MHLivingNews publisher L.A. “Tony” Kovach provides deep insight into this opportunity in Obstacles and Opportunities in Affordable Housing – October 2016, and the understanding that the solution to affordable housing is hiding in plain sight.

For more on Taubman’s prior efforts in Corpus Christi, click here, and here. ##

 

(Image credits are as shown above.)

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

Op-Ed Takes City to Task, Advocates for MH as Solution

February 22nd, 2017 Comments off
OpEdTakesCitytoTaskAdvocatesforMHasSolutioncreditCrownVilla-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewsmhlivingnews

A home in the Crown Villa community in Bend, Oregon. Credit: Crown Villa.

Former Bend, Oregon mayor and property firm president Allan Bruckner, recently penned an op-ed in The Bulletin, which makes the case for manufactured housing as a solution to the city’s affordable housing crisis.

One of the obvious and most talked about problems in Bend is our need for affordable housing. Yet so far there has been no effective approach to solving this need. There has been some success for apartments, which require a subsidy to the developer, but very little progress for single-family dwellings,” wrote Bruckner.

Why not consider a subdivision based on factory-built housing (previously called mobile homes [sic]) that doesn’t require a subsidy. Economical factory housing is advertised for around $50 per square foot, whereas low-cost, site-built housing in Bend costs around $100 per square foot for a 900- to 1,200-square-foot house. (Costs for land, water, sewer and road are additional.)

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Allan Bruckner. Credit: Source Weekly.

Bruckner continued, speaking very strongly about the negative perceptions of manufactured housing, and how it needs to change.

While they have a historic negative image as creating slum like conditions, or depreciating like junk, that need not be the case,” wrote Bruckner.

For example, consider the successful local examples such as the Romaine Village subdivision or the Crown Villa mobile home park. Each has provided safe, code-compliant, low-cost housing for over 40 years! Each remains very attractive after these 40 years. Why not develop such a project today? And such a project could address a large number of housing units, not like a few ‘ADUs’ (accessory dwelling units) here and there.”

Bruckner went on to discuss the Juniper Ridge industrial park, and its failure over the last 10 years, as an option for the city to redesignate in parts for extensive affordable housing.

He also called for specific restrictions to make sure that it happens.

Of course, just rezoning land for housing will not guarantee its use for low-cost housing, so specific restrictions are necessary,” wrote Bruckner.

To make this truly low-cost housing, the city should make the land available free. At an average price of $100,000 per lot in Bend, combined with factory-built housing at about half the price of site-built houses, this would be a huge savings. With perhaps 10 units per acre, and developing 20 or 30 acres, this approach would have a major impact on availability of affordable housing.

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The Juniper Ridge Industrial Park. Credit: Bend Bulletin.

In closing, Bruckner pointed to the need for the housing, and for action.

The need is obviously great. If we really want to provide affordable housing, why not free land? After all, the city got the land for $1 from the county, which got it free from Bureau of Land Management. Understandably, there would have to be controls so the resident gets the benefit of free land, and doesn’t get a windfall upon resale, but those are solvable legal issues. (Perhaps the city places a lien on the property, maybe releasable gradually over time),” wrote Bruckner.

It could provide a huge increase in affordable housing with limited out-of-pocket costs to taxpayers. If this problem is to be addressed, it is time for bold action.” ##

 

(Image credits are as shown above.)

 

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RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.