Building Modular Housing Factories Near Areas With High Housing Costs

To improve housing costs and economic conditions at once, look to the locations of modular housing factories.

2 minute read

April 28, 2021, 10:00 AM PDT

By LM_Ortiz

Shipping Container Housing

Marco Saracco / Shutterstock

Affordable housing developers are keenly aware of the growing need to house struggling residents quickly. The pandemic has only exacerbated the mismatch between housing supply and housing need. There is, of course, also an economic crisis, and affordable housing development is a proven strategy to spur job creation and spark positive ripple effects across multiple sectors.

However, operational challenges precipitated by the pandemic—not to mention the strain on public resources‚ have made affordable housing developers extremely sensitive to the costs of building new developments. This has increased the appeal of modular housing construction, which has been promoted as a way to boost productivity, cut costs, and force innovation in traditional construction. Modular homes are residences built to near completion in factory environments, and later transported in sections to construction sites.

However, that potential has not yet been realized, and one of the reasons is the expense and delay that comes from shipping the modular parts in from distant factories. If components of a modular home are built at a local factory situated nearer the construction site, developers have the convenience of both logistical and cost efficiencies, cutting down project time and contributing to a smaller carbon footprint.

A strategy that would address housing supply, construction cost, job creation—and even the jobs-housing mismatch—would be to locate more modular housing factories directly in regions with high housing costs, in parts of those regions that suffer from lack of jobs and long commutes to what jobs there are. Developers seek certainty in the building environment, and a robust set of local fabrication facilities could bring efficiency, reliability, and timely delivery.

Take Southern California, for example. The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), the metropolitan planning organization for the region, has been told by the state housing department that the region will need ...

Thursday, April 15, 2021 in Shelterforce Magazine

babyt Boomer Homeowners

The Shifting Boomer Bulge: More Bad News for America’s Housing Crisis?

In the first of a two-part series, PlaceMakers’ Ben Brown interviews housing guru Arthur C. Nelson on the sweeping demographic changes complicating the housing market.

March 12, 2023 - PlaceShakers and NewsMakers

Aerial view of snowy single-family homes in suburban Long Island, New York

New York Governor Advances Housing Plan Amid Stiff Suburban Opposition

Governor Kathy Hochul’s ambitious proposal to create more housing has once again run into a brick wall of opposition in New York’s enormous suburbs, especially on Long Island. This year, however, the wall may have some cracks.

March 20, 2023 - Mark H. McNulty

Yellow on black "Expect Delays" traffic sign

A Serious Critique of Congestion Costs and Induced Vehicle Travel Impacts

Some highway advocates continue to claim that roadway expansions are justified to reduce traffic congestion. That's not what the research shows. It's time to stop obsessing over congestion and instead strive for efficient accessibility.

March 14, 2023 - Todd Litman

Pedestrian stoplight with green 'walk' silhouette lit up and blurry city buildings in background

Historically Redlined Neighborhoods Have Higher Rates of Pedestrian Deaths, Study Says

The consequences of historic redlining continue to have consequences in the present day United States. Add another example to the list.

53 minutes ago - Streetsblog USA

A toll payment facility in Florida.

Tolling All Lanes

Bay Area transportation planners are studying a radical idea to reduce traffic congestion and fund driving alternatives: tolling all lanes on a freeway. Even more radical, the plan considers tolling parallel roads.

March 21 - San Francisco Chronicle

Close-up of person holding up smartphone next to contactless fare reading device on bus

Federal SMART Grants Awarded for Transportation Safety, Equity Projects

The grant program focuses on the use of technology to improve safety, accessibility, and efficiency in transportation.

March 21 - U.S. Department Of Transportation

Planner II

City of Greenville

Planner I

City of Greenville

Rural Projects Coordinator (RARE AmeriCorps Member)

Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) AmeriCorps Program

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.