LEXINGTON, Ky. — The Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) conference is occurring in Lexington at The Central Bank Center. It brings cities across Kentucky together, connecting them with services and finding potential solutions to issues facing their respective municipality.
One of those issues is lack of housing, especially affordable housing. At the conference, city stakeholders from across the Commonwealth could view a manufactured model home. Those homes could be completed within a matter of days, rather than months.
Logan Hanes, with Kentucky Manufactured Homes Institute, said despite the quick construction time, these homes have the same quality standards as a traditional site-built home.
“You can’t tell that it’s not a site-built house. You’ll see thicker wall construction, which these are 2x6 walls — which 2x4 is even standard for site-built,” Hanes said.
The model home is around 1,300 square feet and has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Hanes said all the work, including construction and staging the furniture, took four days.
“You have the same person that does trim work every day; that’s their job. You have the same person that frames this wall; that’s their job — and so just the efficiency of the building,” Hanes said.
Hanes said manufactured homes are versatile and can meet the needs of different prospective homeowners.
“You can buy very entry-level home[s] but you can also buy the Mercedes or Genesis of manufactured homes,” Hanes said.
Because of efficient building and versatility, manufactured homes have become a major source of affordable housing in Kentucky. They make up 11% of the state’s housing inventory, according to The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
However, prior Spectrum News reporting found residents in one manufactured home community in Mt. Washington have seen regular rent increases and constant ownership changes, pricing them out of once-affordable housing.
“I think there’s certainly bad actors in every industry that do have unfair rent increases,” Hanes said. “But there’s also been a lot of benefits to some of these larger groups coming in and purchasing these communities — investing in the infrastructure. Some of the communities in Kentucky still have clay pipes, so a lot of that has increased; so because of that you are providing a safer community — providing better quality to the tenants.”
City leaders at the KLC conference have been receptive to the idea of manufactured housing being used to close the gap in housing needs, including Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott.
“I was extremely impressed with how far along that industry has come. The product was an impressive product. I think it has the potential to play a big role in our housing affordability issue,” Traugott said.
A hurdle for numerous cities is variances in zoning ordinances that segregate factory-made homes from traditional single-family homes.
“I think a lot of these improvements in that industry have gone unnoticed by local officials, planning administrators, those who write those ordinances and regulations. I think it may be time to take a fresh look at that,” Traugott said.
Hanes said those concerned about tornado safety can be assured every new manufactured home is inspected by the state twice and has the same anchoring system as site-built homes.
Kentucky Manufactured Homes Institute has also partnered with the Kentucky Housing Corporation to help build and design over 2,000 homes needed in Eastern Kentucky over a six-year grant period.