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Study – Manufactured Housing May Have Weak Financial Foundation

July 15, 2008

St. Paul, MN - Living in a pre-fab house can lead to some unpleasant surprises. Chip Halbach, executive director of the Minnesota Housing Partnership, says a new report finds owners of manufactured houses are at a disadvantage compared to those living in site-built homes when it comes to legal protections, tax treatment and financing.

"Manufactured homes provide one of the few routes to home ownership for lower-income people. Additionally, there just aren't that many housing options in many rural communities, where much of the manufactured housing exists."

He says pre-manufactured housing serves an important niche in Minnesota's home market, where the the average annual income of owners is about $30,000.

Halbach says the report outlines major soft spots in Minnesota's housing market, but there are several steps that would help build up the manufactured housing industry and ensure its long-term solvency.

"We need to strengthen the rights of those families living in manufactured homes and parks. We need to ensure that they have the right to purchase those parks as a cooperative or in some other fashion, should those parks be sold. We also need to help provide better financing options for those purchasing manufactured homes."

Halbach says that requires action at both the state and federal level. He hopes the new study stirs interest from state lawmakers to address the issue next session.

The full report is online at the MHP web site, www.mhponline.org.

Jim Wishner/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - MN