Post-industrial housing: An affordable housing opportunity for post-industrial cities

Report cover for Manufactured Housing.

Cities grappling with limited supplies of high-quality, affordable homes are exploring alternatives in housing policy and form. This graduate-level studio in the Master of Urban Planning program explores the potential for manufactured housing in Buffalo and post-industrial cities more broadly.



Spring 2020


Master of Urban Planning

Manufactured homes have evolved to provide a unique opportunity for cities to add variation in design to the urban form. Energy-efficient components, including natural lighting elements and increased ventilation, have become a more common preference for homeowners. Recognizing these trends, MH builders have adjusted their design and construction process to appeal to a wider public.

Manufactured housing is a feasible option for affordable housing in post-industrial cities, since these are cities that often have large amounts of vacant land. Buffalo in particular faces diminishing quality and quantity of affordable housing and high percentages of households that are cost-burdened.

The studio proposes a series of housing prototypes and potential sites that would provide infill, cluster, or community block development opportunities. Recommendations consider the regulations mandated by the New York State Residential Code, NYS Home and Community Renewal Design Guidelines, and Buffalo Green Code. With an estimated expense of almost $101,000, the studio concludes that MH can be implemented at a half, if not a third, of the cost of this site-built construction method, that often totals more than $300,000 for a single-family residence.

By implementing MH in areas with substantial vacancy, opportunities exist to revitalize the surrounding neighborhood while respecting the current community character. Variations in design and size are also possible, providing flexibility for atypical lot sizes that may be found. Structural characteristics common to more traditional housing are also attainable with MH, including porches, peaked roofs, added windows, and expansion with the growth of family.