What is a manufactured home community (MHC)?
Over 350,000 of our fellow Virginians live in manufactured homes. Many of those homes are the building blocks of manufactured home communities—otherwise known as mobile home parks. These neighborhoods can be just a small handful of homes on a small property, or hundreds of units in a master-planned community. They are found throughout the state, in our cities, suburbs, and rural neighborhoods.
All manufactured home communities share two important traits:
- First, the housing units are built in factories and installed on site. These might be older “mobile homes” or newer “manufactured homes” that conform to federal safety and quality standards.
- Second, residents own their home and lease their lot from the community owner. With few exceptions, the land is owned by a private individual or corporation, who is responsible for community upkeep and maintenance. In some cases, residents may also rent their home.
Although these communities provide affordable and accessible housing options, they rarely give residents the security, agency, and financial independence enjoyed by other homeowners. In short, the deck is stacked against them.
How many MHCs are in Virginia?
Our best estimate is that Virginia is home to over 600 manufactured home communities. Owners are not required to register their communities with localities or the state, so we don’t have a precise figure.
On this map, green dots represent manufactured homes on any type of property, and blue dots represent manufactured home communities.
What is the difference between a manufactured home, a mobile home, and a modular home?
Manufactured homes are completely constructed in a factory setting. They are then transported to the site, placed and affixed to a permanent foundation, and connected to utilities. They are very rarely ever moved again. They are built according to federal construction codes from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and promulgated by DHCD here in Virginia. Prior to 1976, HUD had no regulations for manufactured homes—units built prior to this date are the “mobile” and “trailer” homes we typically think of.
Modular homes are also built in factories, but are instead governed by local/state building codes. Workers build large components (e.g., wall sections) in controlled settings, which are then transported and assembled at the home site. For this reason, modular homes offer greater design and size options, but at higher cost than wholly manufactured homes.