The ROOTS initiative will engage with people living in trailers1 and HUD Code homes (collectively called “manufactured homes” or “MH”) in an effort to provide them with better housing options in the communities they already call Home. Through the ROOTS initiative, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation (KHIC) intends to help some of the most marginally housed people in our communities achieve greater housing stability, exert more control over their housing choice, and ultimately own homes that provide radically better energy performance and healthier physical environments. KHIC seeks to help households gain control of the land on which their homes are set and transition to homes constructed to state building code and EnergyStar standards.

ROOTS will also seek to reduce the prevalence of manufactured homes in favor of housing options conforming to state building code. KHIC believes homes built to state code offer better energy performance, greater durability, significantly greater ease of rehabilitation, and the option of expanding the home through adding decks and additional heated square footage (i.e. room additions). In the end, people moving from manufactured homes will inhabit higher-performing homes which have lower life-cycle costs due to less energy consumption, accrue more equity in the homes they own, and will have greater housing stability through the work of the ROOTS initiative.

The ROOTS initiative is a struggle with and against the economic and cultural forces that gave rise to the proliferation of campers and trailers as permanent housing. This led to the eventual mass production of manufactured housing conforming to a national HUD code and the attenuating chattel financing of those homes. These forces include:

• strong preference for living in detached dwellings; the desire for homeownership which transcends race, ethnicity, class or socio-economic status;
• limited access to affordable, conventional mortgage credit (i.e. 30-year, fixed-rate loans) for many home-buyers (particularly in rural areas):
• inefficiency of small-scale rental developments in rural areas; and
• the significant rental income that flows from manufactured housing communities to the owners of the real estate, with relatively few attenuating expenses.

The ROOTS initiative will nurture the spirit of home-ownership while simultaneously striving to dismantle the system that disconnects manufactured housing owner-occupants from the land their homes occupy. The ROOTS initiative seeks opportunities to purchase manufactured housing communities to aid in the dismantling of this system. When the initiative is successful, owner-occupants will gain control of the land on which their homes are set, and renters will transition to owning energy-efficient homes built to state codes. The initiative will work with owner-occupants to transition from owning a manufactured housing unit to owning a home built to state code. KHIC will develop alternatives to manufactured housing units which meet state building code and EnergyStar standards, compete with manufactured housing units on price, and offer superior energy-efficiency and ability for expansion. Because these homes will be built to state code, more financing options will be available and owners will accrue equity at a greater rate.

This ROOTS initiative will proactively seek to reduce the number of manufactured housing units in our communities. Manufactured housing units – and in particular units manufactured prior to 19942– are widely recognized as a problem. Partners such as utility companies, local governments, health care providers and human services organizations all recognize the need for action. Through the ROOTS initiative, KHIC will work with partners and seek funding support to change the landscape of our communities in favor of fewer manufactured housing units and greater health/stability for our residents.

1 – A trailer, or a mobile home, is defined herein as a home built prior to the introduction of the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards Program (HUD Code), which was enforced for manufactured homes assembled after June 15, 1976.
2 – An update to the HUD Code in 1994 made significant advances including improved insulation and ventilation standards.