The 2018 I’M HOME Conference Shows the Manufactured Housing Field at a Crossroads

During the first annual Innovations in Manufactured Homes (I’M HOME) conference in 2005, a few dozen advocates debated manufactured housing’s sustainability as an equitable housing strategy. During the 14th  Innovations in Manufactured Homes (I’M HOME) Conference held in Nashville, Tennessee earlier this month, we saw how far we’ve comewith hundreds in attendance, including some who were skeptical in the past but who’ve now become powerful advocates who moderated concurrent sessions.

Because of our work over the years, more communities now regard manufactured housing as a credible part of local housing strategies, and are finally confronting the inequities caused by land use and program exclusion. Lenders are expanding product offerings and providing support for the launch of new ones. Additionally, state housing finance agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are facilitating home lending and community preservation, allowing the manufactured housing industry to deliver more units in recent years.

This year’s I’M HOME Conference continued to cultivate new ideas from a growing group of leaders in the field. About 250 homeowners, advocates, lenders, policymakers and housing providers came to Music Cityour most diverse group ever in terms of demographics and sectors represented. The five plenaries and 12 concurrent sessions offered participants unprecedented opportunities to deepen their knowledge and promote manufactured housing. Highlights included:

  • The plenary session on “Manufactured Housing in Indian Country: A Conversation with Tribal Leaders,” which explored challenges and opportunities for manufactured homeowners on tribal lands. For example, Patrice Kunesh, Director of the Center for Indian Country Development, presented data underscoring disproportionate home loans on tribal lands, and high rates of loan denial. Afterward, attendees shared helpful ideas and resources to address the problem
  • Another peak of the conference was the plenary exploring the current state of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve programs. The two agencies are about a year into their Underserved Markets Plans and have made progress in better serving the manufactured housing market. 2019 is expected to be a very important year for the manufactured housing markets as regulatory and statutory changes are considered.
  • State-level agencies continue to support the expansion of housing finance. During Tuesday’s lunch plenary, leaders from the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, New York State Homes and Community Renewal, Oregon Housing and Community Services, and the Virginia Housing Development Authority updated attendees about existing programs and unveiled new priorities and initiatives. Each discussed how new single-family loan and community preservation products are key to their housing strategies.
  • A notable addition to recent conferences has been the recognition of leaders and trailblazers in our field. This year we honored researcher and author Dr. Esther Sullivan and Prosperity Now President Andrea Levere. Sullivan’s presentations, research and 2018 book, Manufacturing Insecurity: Mobile Home Parks and Americans’ Tenuous Right to Place, have helped reshape how academics and policymakers see the manufactured housing sector. Levere, who helped launch I’M HOME, has been a key leader in the field since its inception.

Prosperity Now thanks our 2018 I’M HOME Conference sponsors: Wells Fargo Housing Foundation, the Tennessee Housing Finance Agency, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Affordable Housing Resources, the Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and NeighborWorks America. To see presentations, attendees and other items from the conference, check out the conference materials.   

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