Manufactured Homes on National Mall Make Big Impression

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Innovative housing draws attention
Thousands of people toured the manufactured homes on the National Mall each day during the showcase.

Potential Homebuyers Awestruck by New Manufactured Homes in Washington, D.C.

Innovative housing for sale
Jessica Ubanyionwu of Washington, D.C., and Chidozie Emelue of St. Louis, Mo., on the National Mall in front of a new Skyline Champion home.

One Washington, D.C., area potential homebuyer came to the National Mall with tiny homes on her mind. She’s a regular viewer of tiny home TV programming.

However, when she and her shopping partner arrived on the sprawling lawn, it was manufactured housing that captured her imagination.

“I appreciate the closets,” Jessica Ubanyionwu said. “I think especially because in D.C. where a walk-in closet and extra storage is completely ignored… It’s amazing. It looks like a tiny home, but it’s much bigger.”

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The Innovative Housing Showcase put on by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in partnership with the Manufactured Housing Institute among others, placed the homes on the mall. The primary audience for the industry’s housing innovations was lawmakers in Congress and policymakers in myriad departments. Yet, Ubanyionwu and others intrigued by the spectacle couldn’t help but be impressed.

She and her shopping partner left the mall just a few notions closer to the idea of buying a manufactured home.

“I like that they minimize the bedroom for just what you need so you can put the extra attention and space into the kitchen and bathrooms,” said Chidozie Emelue of St. Louis, Mo., who joined Ubanyionwu on the adventure.

Skyline Champion Corporation brought a pair of homes to the mall. UMH Properties, a home retailer and owner of communities, partnered with manufacturer Cavco Industries to show a third home.

The Innovative Housing Showcase is open to the public and free of charge. It includes keynote addresses on housing, panel discussions, home tours and music through June 5.

Innovative housing crowds
A couple of hundred people at a time sat in the tent on the National Mall to hear about some of the latest innovative housing solutions.

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HUD Secretary Ben Carson announced in March that the department would host the showcase.

The intent of the gathering is to educate policymakers and the broader public on innovations and building technologies in new manufactured homes that address affordable housing challenges across the country.

innovative housing solutions
Mary Niese of Stafford, Va., came to the National Mall in Washington to find an affordable home of her own.

Mary Niese of Stafford, Va., came across the homes on the mall and was inspired to grab a friend for a closer look.

“When I saw these homes this morning, I had to go back and get my friend Bob and told him that we had to come back. It’s really something to see,” Niese said.

The Virginia resident said she’s had years of surgeries on her legs to repair damage from a car crash, and that she’s been in HUD’s section 8 housing voucher program since she’s been unable to work.

“If I could get into one of these homes for the rent that I pay with a voucher, I would give my voucher back in a second,” she said.

Innovative housing at the Capitol
Capitol Hill is home to manufactured homes and other innovative housing solutions for one week in June.

The Showcase is Open to the Public, Free of Charge

Seventeen exhibitors are scheduled to show new homes, and products or programs and services related to innovative new homes. Those exhibitors include Cavco Industries, Skyline Champion and UMH Properties, all representatives from the manufactured housing industry. Other exhibitors include Boxabl, Oak Ridge National Laboratories, and Snap Space Solutions.

Schedule for Innovative Housing Showcase

Each day at the showcase is designated for a target audience. Following is an overview of HUD’s schedule for the Innovative Housing Showcase.

  • Saturday, June 1: General Public Day — Opening remarks from HUD Sec. Ben Carson. A professional panel moderated by Rich Binsacca, Professional Builder Magazine.
  • Sunday, June 2: State/Local Government Day — A presentation on the latest building innovations and technologies. A talk on local solutions to housing problems.
  • Monday, June 3: Federal Government Day — Remarks from FHFA Director Mark Calabria. A panel on disaster recovery and mitigation.
  • Tuesday, June 4:  Capitol Hill Day — Opening remarks from the National Association of Home Builders CEO Jerry Howard. A discussion on the impacts of housing policy.
  • Wednesday, June 5: Industry Day — A panel on “A Holistic Approach to Veteran Housing and Healing”. A forecast on what the next 10 years may hold for real estate.

HUD’s Ben Carson Encouraged by Reaction to Manufactured Homes

“I was thrilled that there were so many people who were interested in this, particularly given the limited scope of advertising that was done,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said during an interview about the inaugural event.

“But that’s one of the reasons we wanted to be right here on the National Mall. It’s its own kind of natural advertising; people are going to be walking through here all the time. Also, putting it right in sight of the Capitol. Because we want the legislators to understand also… we’re talking about advanced technology that really makes affordable housing a possibility. And we need to start thinking about things in a different way to solve some significant problems.”