Elkhart has modular home momentum with workforce housing grant

Published: Sep. 19, 2019 at 4:07 PM EDT
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A $500,000 grant will keep the modular momentum going in Elkhart.

On Flake Street Thursday, crews worked on a one-of-a-kind project that will use manufactured housing to create new rental opportunities in Elkhart.

Plans call for 10 units of modular housing — two single family units and four duplexes.

In the 100 block of West Indiana Avenue, officials announced plans to use more modular units, this time to offer new home ownership opportunities.

“There will be three [single-family homes] in this local neighborhood where we create modular houses that are going to be for home ownership,” said Chris Kingley, President and CEO of Lacasa. “It’s a product that has gotten better and better over the years, and one of the things a lot of people probably don’t realize about modular housing is they’re using the same material that stick-built, site-built homes are using, they’re just building them in a factory environment [and] bringing them out. It’s able to reduce the cost. It’s able to save some time, but you still end up with a durable, quality product that’s going to serve the homeowner for generations.”

A $500,000 grant from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority will put three homes on Elkhart city lots where blighted houses have been torn down, including the lot featured Thursday at 120 W. Indiana Ave.

When the new houses are sold, the proceeds can be used to build even more.

“In the current market, we are hoping that this project can cycle through enough times where at least eight or nine new single-family houses through this funding source are created,” Kingsley said.

“Modular housing for us it's a little new approach,” said Jacob Sipe with the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. “One of the big differences is that they can do it in half the time. In many cases, the construction is done indoors.”

In this case, the home construction will take place at a factory in Nappanee. The stated goal of the grant is to chip away at Elkhart’s workforce housing shortage.

“We have about 34,000 people a day come into the county that don't live here but they work here,” Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese said. “Of that 34,000, 27,000 typically come to the city of Elkhart, so what we want to do is recruit as many of these people that come in here to work and make them full-time residents.”

The three new homes are expected to be completed by the fall of 2020.

Neese said 64% of the housing stock in Elkhart is rental housing, and he appreciates the chance to increase home ownership opportunities.