Not-your-average “mobile” homes in Danville
Now for sale in Danville: Manufactured homes, but probably not the kind you have in mind.
Built offsite and delivered to a lot, these manufactured homes don’t have wheels. Instead, they feature improved durability, energy efficiency, aesthetics, and meet stringent quality standards. In addition to permanent foundations, the houses have higher-pitched roofs, sheetrock interiors, covered front porches, and offer low operating, maintenance, and utility costs. The homes are, in both appearance and construction, similar to their traditionally built counterparts.
In a pilot initiative led by the Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority, a small neighborhood of manufactured homes is creating affordable housing in a community hit hard by decades of manufacturing and textile job losses (and made worse in recent months by the COVID-19 pandemic). You can find the homes within walking distance of the popular Tobacco Warehouse and Residential District on the Dan River banks, in a redevelopment area formed to address blighted properties downtown.
The homes have brick foundations, driveways, and carports. They sit on large yards (eight city lots were consolidated into five), to attract young families looking for space to let their kids grow. Sale price: between $130,000 and $150,000, depending on the finishes chosen by the buyer (granite countertops, hardwood floors, and more), in a city where the average home price is around $250,000.
Established in 1941, the Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority owns and manages more than 560 units in seven multi-family developments, serving 1,600 lower-income residents in the region — Including this project, to provide homeownership options in an area with limited resources.
In the past, Danville, like many other cities, did not allow manufactured or ‘mobile’ housing — homes built offsite and delivered to a lot — partly due to the homes losing value over time. That’s not the case today. Through work and education, the housing authority was able to convince residents, the city planning commission, and ultimately city council that these manufactured homes aren’t what they used to be. A zoning ordinance passed in late 2019 will allow for the installation of several units near downtown.
With the green light to move forward, the housing authority came to VCC requesting cash for the first five homes. Officials requested a $600,000 line of credit from VCC to purchase and set up the homes on land owned by the agency. Loan requirements included:
- 10% pay-down when the unit is ordered
- Balance paid within six weeks of delivery to the site, with the full loan repaid in 12 months
The homes are built through a partnership that includes the housing authority, Virginia Housing, and Next Step, a Kentucky-based nonprofit that connect builders, developers, lenders, and housing advocates to create ownership options through manufactured housing. Clayton Homes, an established builder of manufactured housing, is constructing the units to the “CHOICEHome” standard. It is a designation set at the federal level (through FreddieMac) to ensure the homes meet similar standards to site-built construction. Receiving CHOICEhome certification means homes are underwritten the same as a typical, site-built house.
The Danville homes are available to individuals and families earning up to 120% of the area median income.
And not only is the initiative creating more much-needed affordable housing, officials at Danville Redevelopment seek to prove that when manufactured homes are built to the same standards as their stick-built counterparts, they will not only retain their value but increase over time. Banks are also more willing to lend to quality manufactured home buyers.