Letters to the Editor

‘Shabby’ image hurts manufactured housing in SLO

Ruth Starr, you pose a great question (“We need manufactured homes to create more affordable housing,” Letters, Aug. 28).

Manufactured homes sell for as little as half the cost of comparable site-built homes. As a veteran of that industry and an author of books and articles on the subject, I believe I can shed some light.

First, manufactured homes have a shabby image, as do all forms of low-cost housing. The articles you see in this newspaper and other media promoting “affordable housing” seek the sort of housing affluent people live in, located in fine neighborhoods, at prices “ordinary working people” can afford. Even stick builders could build much lower-priced homes, but the zoning, building codes and permit process have evolved to make doing so difficult.

The main problem is cultural. It’s inherent in our society. People in “nice” neighborhoods don’t want low-income people living next door. The “tiny home” movement, fashionable at the moment, will probably suffer the same fate as manufactured housing. Coastal affluent areas are the prime drivers of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard).

The good news? In much of the nation, and especially in small towns, manufactured homes are welcomed and enjoyed. They’re perfectly fine homes with life spans and amenities suitable for anyone. These days, they’re even attractive.

Bob Vahsholtz, Arroyo Grande