Why We Support The Manufactured Housing Institute

Note: The following is editorial from Lifestylist® and American Housing Advocates founder Suzanne Felber. All words, and opinions are her own.

 Felber delivering hot meals with the Salvation Army after Hurrivane Ivan

Felber delivering hot meals with the Salvation Army after Hurrivane Ivan

This has been an unbelievable seven days to be living in Texas. On almost 12 years to the day, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast, and now Harvey is causing flooding and devastation that we prayed we would never see in our lifetimes. The worst part is that we want to get in the car and go help, but with all of the flooding and rescues going on the best thing we can do is stay out of the way, and to get ready for when we do get the call for help.

The next few years are going to be a turning point for the manufactured housing industry. As an industry, we have the opportunity to provide safe, affordable housing faster than any other form of housing. How we handle the challenges that lie in front of us will shape how people perceive manufactured housing for decades to come.

 Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber shares the manufactured housing advantage in a home she styled after Hurrican Katrina in Biloxi, MS

Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber shares the manufactured housing advantage in a home she styled after Hurrican Katrina in Biloxi, MS

We have been "accused" lately of being overly supportive of The Manufactured Housing Institute, and we are flattered that our enthusiasm for this group is being noticed. With over 30 years involvement in all types of housing including my own home building company and having family that owns a thriving land lease community, I've been involved with many organizations including The National Association of Home Builders, The National Kitchen and Bath Association, and the Dallas Builders Association. I have helped build and design tens of thousands of homes that cost from $15,000 to $15,000,000 and the homes that I enjoy working on the most are factory built homes. I like to say that anyone can design a home with a million dollar budget, but making a house feel like a home for $1,000 is a challenge we love taking on.

I was introduced to The Manufactured Housing Institute over 20 years ago when I was attending the International Builders Show and there was a modular home by Champion Homes that was on the show floor that was beautiful and sold me on how factory built homes are the future of the home building industry.  The Manufactured Housing Institute was there represented by our co-founder of American Housing Institute and he encourages me to learn more about MHI and the manufactured housing industry. I did, and I've been actively involved ever since. After now being involved with the design of tens of thousands of these homes, I know it's the best decision I ever made.

 One of the MEMA Cottages designed after Hurricane Katrina

One of the MEMA Cottages designed after Hurricane Katrina

Now more than ever it's going to be very important for our industry to have one clear voice that has the facts, and the best interests of the industry in focus. After being on the ground during and after a disaster, I've seen how important having a point group that knows what the best resources are and can share a clear, concise message. Even more than what happened on the Gulf Coast after Katrina, Biloxi, Gulfport and the Mississippi Gulf Coast were devasted after the storms. MHI did an outstanding job coordinating efforts and getting homes built and delivered to where they were needed. There's been a lot of talk after Katrina about the "FEMA Trailers" - most of which were not the HUD code manufactured homes that were provided but were smaller RVs that were built to a different code and were meant as short term housing, not the years that people ended up living in them. I personally worked on over 2,500 FEMA homes - most of which were handicap accessible, and 750 of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency MEMA Cottages which I hope will be a prototype for the homes we build moving forward. They truly showed what we are capable of.

 One of the replacement homes that was built with the Manufactured Housing Institute and the Gulf Coast Initiative after Hurricane Katrina

One of the replacement homes that was built with the Manufactured Housing Institute and the Gulf Coast Initiative after Hurricane Katrina

The Manufactured Housing Institute did an incredible job after Katrina. They have the history and resources to handle this challenge as well. The Texas Manufactured Housing Association is working with MHI to coordinate what is needed, and their members are already putting plans in place.

With the staff and quality of manufacturers and community owners that make up this organization now, I can't wait to get started and help people get back into safe, affordable homes.