Posts Tagged ‘Tiny’

Housing Choice, Where Modular, Manufactured, Tiny, Conventional Housing Crisis, MHI and MHARR Intersect

December 1st, 2018 Comments off



Photos from Clayton website, and the logos are the properties of their respective organizations, provided here under fair use guidelines for news media. Text graphics and collage by MHProNews.

It is one of the most controversial issues in the manufactured housing industry today.  Through their apparent power at the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), Clayton Homes has backed the notion of a “new class of manufactured homes.”


It is a thorny issue, as there are various, divided views on the matter.


Certainly, every company has the right and ability to act according to its own perceived interests, within the norms of the law and ethical restraints.

  • If a production company so desires, it can build widget shaped homes and call it a new class of manufactured homes.
  • A firm or organization could say that all new homes should have bull-nosed exterior corners or inverted pyramid shaped roofs in order to get special financing from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
  • Or one could use less esoteric notions, and opt instead for making gutters, downspouts, higher-pitched roofs, and garages available options.

But such details have arguably been incorrectly framed from the start.  Shouldn’t buyers of whatever kind of home they want that meets basic safety, energy, and durability standards be given equal choice for housing in the marketplace, and for financing too?

Rephrased, shouldn’t there be a simple mantra ofhousing choice applied?

The Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have a federal legal mandate since 2008 that they somehow managed to dodge for a decade. Now, instead of offering the lower-cost home-only lending that about 80 percent of manufactured home customers select, instead, they provided a program that is only useful for a new, untested, and special kind of HUD Code home?

  • That special kind of home is what Clayton said they wanted, why?
  • And why is that GSE lending pushing a program that is only for land-home loans, which leaves most land-lease communities and the bulk of the retail sales of manufactured homes out in the cold?
  • How do those forced-fits foster housing choice?


Housing Choice Should Become Part of the MH Industry’s Mantra

  • Shouldn’t those who want to buy an already federally regulated HUD Code manufactured home be allowed to choose that or any other kind of safe and durable housing they want and are able to purchase?
  • Shouldn’t all housing shoppers who can demonstrate the decades of proven durability of their housing choice be allowed to have the same kind of financing options that conventional housing buyers have been able to access for decades?
  • Shouldn’t home buyers have the right to buy an entry-level or residential-style HUD Code manufactured homes with parity of financing?
  • Isn’t parity of financing an important part of how potentially millions of more price- and payment-sensitive renters can afford to buy a home of their own?
  • So if the clear logic of all of the above are obvious, why did MHI, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac hold closed door meetings – refusing to release the minutes of said closed door meeting discussions – which resulted not in more chattel lending, but rather in loans geared only to this so-called, ‘new class of manufactured homes’ that are backed by Clayton?


Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, a Novel Yet Proven Solution to the Affordable Housing Crisis That Will Create Opportunities, Based Upon Existing Laws


Isn’t this new class of homes – and their accompanying Fannie and Freddie lending – just another back-door or oblique way of blocking access to more low-cost lending? Isn’t that effort obviously being led by the Berkshire brands in manufactured housing?  Doesn’t it remind you of the blast-from-the-past, courtesy of 21st Mortgage Corp, that is shown in their letter below?



Click the image above to download a larger sized version of this 21st Mortgage Corp Letter.


Isn’t this new class of homes merely a revised and open version of Smoking Gun 3, where 21st Mortgage cut off lending to thousands of operations that didn’t carry Clayton product?  See the linked report that follows immediately below, plus more related reports further below for added details.


Smoking Gun 3 – Warren Buffett, Kevin Clayton, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corp Tim Williams – Manufactured Home Lending, Sales Grab?


We Already Have Had State Coded Modular Homes for Decades, So, Why this ‘New Class’ of HUD Code Homes?

Several voices from various parts of the industry have noted that modular housing already – on paper – had access to the same land/home mortgage lending that conventional housing enjoys.

Indeed, FHA, VA, and USDA already give parity of lending to HUD Code manufactured homes, as well as modular housing, so long as a proper installation and other lending guidelines are met.

Many manufactured home producers already built both “HUDs” and state-coded modular homes.

But HUD Code manufactured homes have widely outsold modular home building for decades. MHI’s own periodic data reflects that point.

When the goal for thousands of land-lease manufactured home communities, hundreds of manufactured home retailing independents, and MHARR has long been to get the GSEs to fully support manufactured homes with personal property loans, where was the logic of MHI pushing ‘behind closed doors’ the use of GSE lending only [???] for this new class of homes?

Hold that thought.

Hold that notion closely, because what the stated goal of MHARR and MHI began with on Duty to Serve seemed on the surface to be the same thing.  That was the apparent intersection, on paper, that virtually everyone in MHVille said they wanted more lending from the GSEs.

But what MHI ended up doing was redirecting their energy to get GSE lending only for their so-called ‘new class of homes.’  Even the new MHI self-defense, self-promotion video makes that reality a key point, as the screen capture from their new video below reflects.



Screen capture with commentary and MHI’s logo are a collage by MHProNews, which faithfully reflects their “We’re Using Our Momentum Leveraging the Creation of a New Class of Manufactured Homes.” First, what momentum? Second, why the need for a new class of homes? Manufactured housing builders have made residential style homes since at least the 1980s. Buyers could always option in or do on-site whatever they wanted and can afford. It’s therefor a head fake, an apparent ruse that seemingly limits GSE lending to only a tiny sliver of the market that could already be served by modular coded factory-built homes, or by existing residential style HUD Code manufactured homes. This new class of homes is a costly waste of time, save for the fact that it diverts lower-cost financing. Who benefits from that fact?  A monopolist, perhaps?


Third-party to the industry Bloomberg’s shipment data of HUD Code homes reflects that there is a modest recovery, but that the manufactured home industry is still about 75 percent below its 1998 high water mark hit during the last 30 years.

If you want to sell more manufactured homes, this new class of homes is utterly illogical on the surface.  Manufactured housing roared during the 1990s compared to today.  Some claim it was only a sugar-high, based only on bogus lending.  But that claim ignores the reality that those home buyers wanted a manufactured home in the first place. In the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2000s, numerous researchers believed that the EXISTING class of HUD Code manufactured homes was the solution to the affordable housing crisis.


Why did Belsky miss his predicted date? Because it came before Buffett’s entry into MH? See Smoking Gun 3.

So why this need for a new class of homes?  Why not rediscover the proven affordable HUD Code homes, already improved by the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000?

Two Great Laws Already on the Books NOW,  Can Unlock Billion$ Annually for Manufactured Housing Industry Businesse$, Investor$


If you want to encourage the acceptance of HUD Code manufactured homes, then this Clayton/MHI backed ‘new class of homes’ is demonstrably counterproductive on the surface.

Keep in mind that a researcher for the Fannie Mae Foundation some two decades ago already noted back then that manufactured homes merited better lending, placement, zoning, and other treatment. Such facts alone should make it hard for a GSE today to backtrack on their own foundation’s research.  For that report, see the link below.


“Why Advocates Need to Rethink Manufactured Home Quality,” Harvard, GSE, Genz, “High Satisfaction”


So, this new class of homes makes no sense, unless – unless – there is a hidden or unstated agenda?

  • Is this new class of homes just another monopolistic ploy to expand Berkshire’s Moat in MHVille?
  • And as has been noted previously, isn’t this once more using access to capital or lending to harm the interests of the majority of producers, in favor of one that is also selling site built housing?


Machiavellian “Godfather” – Sam Zell, Warren Buffett, Capital, Lending and Crossed Lines in Manufactured Housing


The Risk to Existing Manufactured Home Owners

Furthermore, isn’t there an obvious risk that the value of millions of existing manufactured homes will be undermined by this so-called new class of homes?

That isn’t a merely rhetorical question.  Because a senior contact with one of the GSEs admitted to MHProNews that it was a potential hazard.

How would millions of manufactured home owners react to not only not getting GSE chattel lending, but instead, having Clayton-led MHI working in a fashion that undermines the resale values of their homes?  Doesn’t that open the door to a possible class-action lawsuit, against the GSEs, MHI, and Clayton?

An MHI-only member messaged the following to our publisher this week, “You seem to have [a] conceptual IQ that is more important than spelling ability.” That’s nice and clever, but the matter is simply deductive reasoning or logic.

Everything that MHI has done with respect to their so-called new class of homes has been aimed to sideline opposition to it. That isn’t ‘forging consensus,’ is it? Isn’t that silencing opposition or reason-based concerns?

Isn’t what Clayton/Berkshire Hathaway lenders in manufactured housing want is to keep their choke-hold on lower-cost home lending, while promoting their own growing interests in conventional housing, all at the same time?



Unless it was to derail GSE lending, and harm independents, all by another slight-of-hand?

All magic tricks are gimmicks, ploys – tricks. The hand is quicker than the eye. Something looks or sounds cool and good, and razzle dazzle presentations are built around it with high-cost consultants who will naturally say what the ones who wrote the check want said. That’s what a state association executive, an MHI member, has told MHProNews.

Some people will always follow a given con, that’s why tricks exist – they work on some people.

This new class of homes is a purported trick, and that is arguably why Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison would not go on with his public presentation at Louisville last January. He apparently feared having to answer questions from the Daily Business News or from members of the audience, who came armed with questions supplied by MHProNews.



It is also why Fannie Mae arguably cancelled an interview with MHProNews that their media contact had already agreed to do.  What caused that last minute cancellation?  Note that they cancelled only after they knew that among our questions would be some that focused on the genesis of how this new class of homes.

It’s Clayton and MHI, isn’t it?  How else does one explain that BOTH GSEs wanted the same thing?


MHARR Exposes GSES’ Failure On Chattel Financing Before Congress


What’s Overlooked

The genius of the HUD Code is performance-based standards that superseded other local housing code stipulations. That performance based method keeps housing costs lower for marginal buyers who won’t qualify for $150,000-$225,000 priced housing. Yet the HUD Code achieves that without sacrificing safety or durability.


All of the above are HUD Code manufactured homes, built years before the Clayton-MHI backed new class of homes. Newcomers to the website not familiar with modern manufactured homes, learn more by clicking the image above or the link here.


There have long been those who argue the HUD vs MOD matter.  Our publisher said years ago that all of factory-built housing should agree not to undermine each other’s products.  Automakers don’t undermine entry-level cars when selling a Rolls Royce. Besides, more expensive modular homes can have their own headaches, as do site built housing, as a new report yesterday underscored.


“No Good Deed” – Brad Pitt, Make It Right Foundation Sued for Defective Modular Housing, NBC News, More Video


  • Let modular builders do whatever the law allows.
  • Let HUD Code builders build entry-level or more residential-style homes, in any ethical manner that they wish.
  • Ditto for tiny housing, prefab, conventional builders, and so on down the list of legitimate, safe and durable housing providers.

But the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) which gave the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac the Duty to Serve Manufactured Housing didn’t mandate any changes to the federal HUD Code.  The GSEs should be providing lending on entry level HUD Code homes, including chattel loans, not just on these pricey new semi-modular housing units.


Collage by MHProNews.


This new class of homes is arguably a Trojan Horse, a blind alley, a grifters trick.


The logic of this statement can be applied to a variety of cases.


And sadly, the money trail and evidence – see links below – point to Clayton, 21st and Vanderbilt engineering this via MHI. That means that better lending would be unavailable to the majority of potential manufactured housing customers, as well as to those in communities or private land that may want to refinance their high cost Berkshire Hathaway loans at a lower rate.



The charade calls for a federal investigation into MHI and the manufactured housing industry’s Berkshire brands, which sources suggest may already be underway.


MHProNews looks at the facts, considers the sources, and follows the evidence. MHI earlier last year, and for years before, MHI routinely replied promptly to all inquiries. But since we’ve spotlighted the problems and concerns, they’ve gone silent. Why? If the facts are on their side, why not publicly make a cogent explanation?


Housing Choice should become part of the industry’s mantra. For our part, we will spotlight those issues that obscure the common-sense of making manufactured housing another ‘affordable housing choice‘ that home seekers can make with their heads held high, without having to jump through any special and limiting hoops.


Duty To Serve, “Complete Waste of Time” per Tim Williams, CEO/21st Mortgage; POTUS Trump, Warren Buffett Insight$

There’s more to come on this in the days ahead, so stay tuned to the only source in manufactured housing trade media that tackles the tough topics with facts, evidence, money trail, reason, and moxie. See the related reports, further below. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ##(News, analysis, and commentary.)

NOTICE: Readers have periodically reported that they are getting a better experience when reading MHProNews on the Microsoft Edge, or Apple Safari browser than with Google’s Chrome browser. Chrome reportedly manipulates the content of a page more than the other two.

(Related Reports are further below. Third-party images and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)

1) To sign up in seconds for our MH Industry leading emailed news updates, click here.


To see a sample of our emailed news update, click here. To sign up for the factory-built home industry’s #1 headline news, click here or the graphic above.

2) To pro-vide a News Tips and/or Commentary, click the link to the left. Please note if comments are on-or-off the record, thank you.

3) Marketing, Web, Video, Consulting, Recruiting and Training Re-sources

SoheylaKovachDailyBusinessNewsMHProNewsMHLivingNewsSubmitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News for Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and

Related Reports:

“Take the MH Advantage Challenge – Can You Tell the Difference?” Fisk of Sarah Edelman, Director of Duty to Serve, Single-Family Mortgage Business for Fannie Mae

GSEs’ “Duty To Serve Underserved Markets” Plans


Fannie Mae Touts MH Advantage Program, But Manufactured Housing Association Slams Plan as “Illegitimate,” “Bait and Switch”

Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Berkshire Hathaway Backstory

Machiavellian “Godfather” – Sam Zell, Warren Buffett, Capital, Lending and Crossed Lines in Manufactured Housing

Bloomberg “New Home for $90,000? Manufactured Housing Is Making a Comeback” Reveals MH Media Challenge


Secretive “NEW” Class of Manufactured Housing Raises Serious Concerns

Manufactured Homes Knock Tiny Homes Down to Size

April 13th, 2017 Comments off

Kerstin Gillespie’s manufactured home. Credit: Stanwood Camano News.

While “tiny homes” may be all the rage, more and more people are finding that the real value is in a tried and true model.

According to the Northwest Housing Association (NHA) in Olympia, Washington, more and more people who look at tiny homes as an option have discovered manufactured housing not only offers affordability, but also meets meeting zoning, building and life safety standards that many tiny homes do not.

My home is really cute,” said Kerstin Gillespie of Allyn, Washington. She purchased a 586-square-foot manufactured home, placing it on family land to live in while she attends graduate school in nearby Tacoma.

Inside it has 9-foot ceilings, lots of windows and lots of light. I went with a manufactured home because I’d had a good experience buying one before and knew I could move in quickly and get more home for the money.”

Gillespie was able to customize her home, an option that often gets lost among the stereotypes surrounding “mobile homes” or “trailer parks.” HUD Code homes must be at least 400 square feet. The houses compete favorably with the cost of tiny homes; their lower price reflects the efficiencies of being factory built.

Per Stanwood Camano News, unlike tiny homes, which are still struggling with state and local regulations, buyers of manufactured homes generally avoid building code and zoning issues in Washington State, as it passed a law in 2005 preventing cities from discriminating against these manufactured homes.


The inside of a Fourleaf Properties manufactured home in Dallas, Texas. Credit: Candy’s Dirt.

Manufactured homes are built to a national code that ensures homes meet basic structural, safety and energy standards,” said Craig Sedlacek, the program manager for the Factory Assembled Structures program at the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. The organization conducts building inspections for manufactured homes.

There’s no real definition for a tiny home. It might be built to a local code, a recreational vehicle (RV) code or no code at all. It’s important for buyers to understand what standards a home is built to before they buy it.”

Sedlacek also points out that the standards cover important questions about where a home can be located and whether it meets health and safety standards.

One big trend we are seeing is an increased demand for smaller, well-designed floor plans,” said Kevin McShane, sales manager for the Fleetwood Homes plant in Oregon.

The tiny home term is used a lot, but we find that homes under 300 square feet are too small for most people. Floor plans with 500 to 1,000 square feet of living space are now about a third of our business and growing.”


MHProNews and MHLivingNews have covered the “tiny home” movement extensively, including the potential for big legal trouble for owners and a detailed side-by-side comparison with manufactured homes, highlighting function and value versus fashion.


(Image credits are as shown above.)



RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

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

County Commission Tackles Tiny Homes

March 23rd, 2017 Comments off

A tiny home in Walker County, Georgia. Credit: Times Free Press.

In Walker County, Georgia last week, the County Planning Commission took on a big task… how to regulate “tiny homes.

According to the Times Free Press, during a work session, the commission settled on some rules – a tiny home in Walker County should be no bigger than 500 square feet, it should sit on a permanent foundation, which includes an electric meter and a sewer line or septic tank.

The commission also decided that the homes should be restricted to specific zones in the county, with all of them being clustered together.

I’d hate for someone to put one of these things next to my home,” said board member Jack Michaels.

The decisions by the commission were just the first step in what looks to be a much longer process. They will need to put their ideas into an official ordinance, and then hold at least two pubic meetings to review it before they can actually vote on it. This process could delay the path from concept to law until the middle of the year.

While tiny homes may be all the rage in the mainstream, for planning and zoning offices they can present potentially big issues.

Some board members are concerned that a collection of “shanties” could pop up in backyards, or the homes could be abandoned, leaving the county on the hook, or be used by residents to avoid paying taxes. One board member sees the popularity of shows like “Tiny House, Big Living” and “Tiny House Hunters” as the culprit.

That drives some of this,” said board member Phillip Cantrell.

But I think all of us are smart enough to know, living in that, I’m not sure my wife can get her shoes in there.


Walker County, Georgia, shaded in red. Credit: Google.

With confusion around state and local ordinances, local governments across the country have resorted to creating a patchwork of tiny home regulations.

Nearby Catoosa County says the homes must be at least 700 square feet, while Murray County requires at least 864 square feet in rural areas and 1,200 square feet in suburban areas. Gordon County restricts them to RV and campground sites.

Most of them don’t have a stove,” said David Brown, Walker County’s director of codes, inspection and planning.

They don’t have a washer and a dryer. They’ve got a microwave. They may or may not have a toilet.

There’s also the issue of taxes.

How will the tax man go about handling these things?” asked Cantrell. “Is it just a free ride? You move into these things, you get to live free?

As of right now it is,” said Brown. “As of right now.

And the “Wild West” feel around tiny homes concerns Brown.

There are no rules, some of these have no serial numbers. They have no identification. The only way we can do it legally, when we do find them, is to give them a serial number and put them in the system, like a mobile home,” said Brown.


(Image credits are as shown above.)



RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

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

Tiny Homes, Elite Edition?

February 10th, 2017 Comments off

Credit: Wikipedia.

As the U.S. and other countries around the world look for solutions to a growing housing crisis, that fight has come to what some would consider an unexpected place.

According to the Cape Cod Times, the year-round crisis is mounting on Martha’s Vineyard in Chilmark, Massachusetts, and Marina Lent is offering a solution that could be considered, small.

Similar to nearby Nantucket, which recently passed a bylaw allowing for “tiny homes”, the Chilmark Board of Selectmen heard a proposal from Lent that would allow homes smaller than 400 square feet to be clustered on a single lot with a septic system.

Instead of a four-bedroom house on a four-bedroom septic system, build four single-bedroom homes,” said Lent.


Marina Lent. Credit: Facebook.

This would allow people in the market for homes to share the cost of land, the major cost factor, and still be able to live in their own place. The land is so unaffordable.”

Unaffordable to the tune of $250,000 for a quarter-acre.

Anywhere else I could buy a home,” said Lent, who is the administrator for the town’s Board of Health.There’s no way I could ever buy a starter home on my salary.

Chilmark holds the distinction of having the most seasonal housing market on the island. Out of 1,560 units in town, 79 percent are vacant and used as seasonal residences.

Under Lent’s plan, the homes would be somewhat of a hybrid – tiny homes are usually built on trailers, but Lent’s proposal would allow for the homes to have a foundation, which is necessary to withstand the storms that hit the island. The homes would also be movable, if the homeowner would like to relocate to another area.

While the island has not been warm to manufactured homes in the past, there is a long history of moving homes. But, that could change to.


Chilmark, in red marker. Credit: Google.

Nearby Tisbury will hold a public hearing February 15 to discuss adjusting regulations for manufactured home communities and tiny houses.

Manufactured home communities currently need to be on a 10-acre lot in certain zoning, but officials are considering reducing the lot requirement to 3 acres.

If people want to solve the problem with housing they have to change zoning,” said Tisbury Planning Board member Daniel Seidman.

Decreasing the 10-acre requirement would give developers looking to build multiple rental units on a single property a better deal, and the homes must still adhere to all other building requirements.”

All of the different ideas currently being discussed are an effort to make it easier for the island’s year-round residents.

Forty percent of year-round households in Chilmark have low to moderate income, according to a commission study. Of those homes, 42 percent spend more than half of their gross income on housing.

Think of a 27-year-old getting out of college,” Lent said.

They’re early career-starters … they’re already struggling with college debt. They can’t buy a house.

Kelly McCarron, a 25-year-old graduate of Suffolk University, is Lent’s niece. McCarron currently lives with her grandmother and for her, the tiny house idea provides more opportunity to build a sense of community.

I can see how it isn’t built for everyone, but for someone in their 20s it would be a wonderful alternative,” said McCarron.



A tiny home being transported on Martha’s Vineyard. Credit: Vineyard Gazette.

The Selectmen have been receptive to the idea and are continuing to look into it.

All of the towns now, including Chilmark, need to address affordable housing,” said Chilmark Selectman Jim Malkin.

I think it has a good chance of becoming a reality. I also hope that if the proposal becomes reality, that it doesn’t come with the connotation that people who live there are on the poor side of town and live on the other side of the tracks.

While some are on board with the idea, there are those who question it.

I’m a little skeptical about whether it’s a viable alternative,” said Selectman William Rossi.

Four-hundred-square feet would be kind of tight.

Chilmark currently allows for secondary dwellings on a single property, but there can only be one kitchen. This represents one of many potential zoning changes that would need to happen for Lent’s proposal to be practical.

While those challenges persist, Lent remains hopeful that her idea can help those year-round residents who need it most.

I think as a general idea it would be excellent for people to be able to do privately, but I sure wouldn’t want to open the door to scores of ‘tiny house parks’ on the Cape and Islands that just cater once again to the seasonal rental market,” said Lent.

We need these for year-round housing.


Click below or on the photo above for comparisons between tiny and manufactured homes.

(EDITOR’S NoteMHLivingNews has covered the “tiny home” movement extensively, including the potential for big legal trouble for owners and a detailed side-by-side comparison with manufactured homes, highlighting function and value versus fashion.)

(Image credits are as shown above.)


RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

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

University Students Develop, Build Tiny Home Design

January 31st, 2017 Comments off

Credit: MHLivingNews.

Students at Norwich University in Vermont have taken affordable housing into their own hands, by developing the CASA (Creating Affordable Sustainable Architecture) 802, a 324-square-foot micro home that provides sustainable housing for people from all income levels.

In a conversation with MHProNews and MHLivingNews, Norwich University Professor Tolya Stonorov shared that this particular prototype micro home is built to IBC (International Building Code) standards, and that the school’s focus is on affordable housing for people in Vermont.

Our next iteration will be even more locally sourced due to our partnership with a local mill. Our aim is not to just build one or two of these. We hope to partner with a manufacturer who could produce these homes that would allow us to reach out to the larger community,” said Stonorov.

One of the concepts behind our work is you could plug in secondary or tertiary modules as the family grows or the housing situation changes.

For the full story on MHLivingNews, click here. ##

(Image credits are as shown above.)


RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

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

Tiny Prefab Builder Takes His Show on the Road

January 27th, 2017 Comments off

Inside of a MicroPAD. Credit: Berkeley Side.

Patrick Kennedy, owner of Panoramic Interests, a San Francisco, California based developer specializing in prefab homes, believes he has a partial solution to the Bay Area’s chronic homelessness problem.

Now he’s invited the East Bay city of Berkeley to take a look at that solution with a prototype installed next to City Hall.

According to Berkeley Side, Kennedy, whom the Daily Business News covered recently in his quest to solve the homeless challenge in San Francisco, believes the answer lies in the MicroPAD — a fully furnished, 20 by eight foot steel box, reminiscent of a shipping container that’s designed to house one person, or possibly a couple.

The formula? Stack many of them on top of each other, and they become a building of small housing units.


Patrick Kennedy. Credit: Biz Journals.

Homelessness has reached a boiling point, and it’s going to get worse,” said Kennedy.

This is a way of creating fast and effective permanent housing for people without homes. And many people are just one paycheck away from being homeless.

Kennedy hopes to build micro housing in Berkeley and nearby Oakland, with an overall goal of providing housing for 5,000 Bay Area homeless people in the next five years.

The Berkeley city council appears to be open to the idea. Council members Ben Bartlett and Linda Maio put an item on the council meeting agenda recently to discuss the units.


Berkeley, in red. Credit: Google.

The recommendation is that the city identify public land where such housing could be erected, obtain zoning and permitting approval for a 4-story, 100-unit building, identify a housing nonprofit to manage and operate the property, and establish criteria to determine who would be eligible to live there.


Linda Maio and  Ben Bartlett. Credit: Official photos.

I ran across micro-units about a year ago and I was really excited,” said Bartlett.

Having people on the street is a huge concern for me and my constituents. The waiting time for housing for many of the homeless is over a decade and the funding sources for supportive housing is drying up. This could be a way to build housing rapidly and cheaply — it looks like a silver bullet.

As was the case in San Francisco, Kennedy is aware his proposals will be met with some scrutiny, and perhaps resistance, in Berkeley.

He also believes there is an urgency to address the ongoing housing crisis, and that there are options for funding.

Paying for housing city by city is problematic,” said Kennedy.

Why should Berkeley fund it all? Homeless people are not citizens of any city. It would make sense for the county, or even the state to fund it, to spread the burden, use some creative financing.


A view of the MicroPAD. Credit: Berkeley Side.

At least one member of the homeless community is already scrutinizing the idea.

Me and one of my friends have seen the MicroPAD and it doesn’t look very well built,” said Mike Zint, founder of First They Came for the Homeless.

Zint and other advocates support building “tiny homes” as a solution.

Homeless advocate Mike Lee said that he believes tiny homes can be built for $10,000 each.

As Daily Business News readers are already aware, the rules governing tiny homes vary greatly by county, as we covered in the case of a Washington State builder recently. ##

(Image credits are as shown above.)


RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

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