A year and a half ago, the Almeda fire destroyed about 2,300 residences in the Rogue Valley, including about 1,500 manufactured homes. With the cost of replacing those homes going up, that’s posed a difficult challenge for many of the fire’s survivors who want to replace the home they lost.
While many single-family homeowners affected by the fire had insurance, that’s been less common for manufactured home owners, said Southern Oregon Rep. Pam Marsh, D-Ashland.
“It’s been a much more difficult road to get those manufactured home parks back up and operating and to get people in new homes in those parks,” Marsh said during a forum she led Wednesday night focused on rebuilding resources for wildfire survivors in the Rogue Valley.
A variety of programs are being offered by the state and nonprofits to help those who lived in manufactured homes purchase or rebuild energy-efficient units.
Oregon Housing and Community Services will continue offering a forgivable loan program. While it was originally designed to help people upgrade older homes, Marsh said the program has been amended to be more effective for wildfire survivors.
“It will also cover the cost of installation, because we know that there’s a cost to transporting a home from someplace else, preparing the site, getting permitting, potentially getting skirting,” Marsh said.
The Wildfire Recovery and Resilience Account grant is being operated through Oregon Housing and Community Services and ACCESS, the major non-profit social service provider in Medford. The program offers funding for manufactured home repairs or replacement. It was funded by the Oregon Legislature and is aimed at people who are at or below 80% of the area median income.
The cost to purchase a manufactured home used to be between $10,000 and $40,000, according to Marsh. Now, she said, it could cost up to $140,000 because residents have to purchase a brand-new home.
The nonprofit, Energy Trust of Oregon is offering an incentive program for wildfire survivors to help with the purchase or rebuilding of energy-efficient homes. The manufactured home replacement program includes $10,000 to $16,000 in incentives for rebuilding.
An additional program from the Oregon Department of Energy will offer up to $12,500 in incentives for individuals who build energy efficient manufactured homes.
ACCESS is helping connect residents with the appropriate programs.
“What we’ve heard over and over again is an interest in coming back to manufactured home parks, but coming back in a way that’s affordable for people and recognizing that’s a big barrier,” Marsh said. “That’s exactly what we’re trying to address in these state programs.”