Housing policy, Housing -- Oregon -- Wood Village -- Planning, Neighborhood planning -- Oregon -- Wood Village, Urban community development
In much of the United States, housing options are limited while costs rise. The purpose of this report is to analyze the utility and functionality of mobile dwellings as an interim housing option to provide shelter and basic living needs on private residential lots. The policy context presented below for permitting mobile dwellings as part of the solution for growing issues of housing affordability focuses on Oregon and the Portland Metro region, but could be applicable in a variety of urban contexts.
While missing middle housing and ADUs have received much attention in recent years as a solution for addressing housing affordability, mobile dwellings have not. Mobile dwellings are a uniquely affordable housing option because they are not subject to the same building code standards as traditional dwelling units, such as ADUs or other middle housing options. In 2016, Fresno, California was the first to adopt code legalizing mobile dwellings and has only received 4 permit applications. All other municipalities that adopted similar code received few applications as well. While many people currently live in mobile dwellings, either by choice or as a last resort, the amount of actual mobile dwelling permits issued by municipalities is miniscule due to 1) the recent adoption of such policies, 2) the lack of public awareness, and 3) the burdensome regulations associated with permittal.
People are already living in unpermitted mobile dwellings as interim housing. Policymakers need to respond to obvious demand for this housing type and provide safe, legal ways for people to utilize this flexible, affordable alternative.
This report is based on a case study conducted in Wood Village, Oregon. Some of the key lessons learned from Wood Village include the complexities of passing such code, how to assuage stakeholder and public concerns, and timeframe considerations. These lessons learned from Wood Village, along with research from other municipalities and stakeholders, have been synthesized into model code - available in this report- to planners and policymakers for use in their communities. Increased awareness about mobile dwelling code will result in higher levels of usage and adoption, ultimately creating more affordable and equitable communities.
The recommendations and model code in this report are produced by Small Wins Planning, a Portland State University (PSU) final workshop project for the Masters of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP). The name Small Wins Planning was chosen because there is no singular solution to the current housing crisis, instead, a variety of actions are necessary. We need increased housing supply (at market rate and affordable levels), increased rental vouchers, equity-focused programming, progressive zoning policy, and immediate interim housing options, which include mobile dwellings.
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Coffey, Grace; Goodman, Scott; Hall, Matthew; Huck, Sam; and Oliver, Andrew, "Legalizing Mobile Dwellings : A Guide for Expanding a Unique Affordable Housing Option in your City" (2022). Master of Urban and Regional Planning Workshop Projects. 183.