Labor and Economic Opportunity
Monday, Jan. 13, 2020
CONTACT: Gabby Abel
LANSING, Mich. – The availability of affordable housing in Michigan is in short supply. Housing entities in both the public and private sector are working toward reducing this deficit and Michigan-based Champion Homes, a leader in the manufactured housing industry and one of the largest modular homebuilders in North America, is providing solutions.
Land banks and government officials from across the state recently traveled to Topeka, IN, to tour one of Champion’s modular manufacturing plants. During this tour, officials saw how modular and manufactured houses are built and discussed housing options available to state, county, local and non-profit entities.
“Housing development is a collaborative process. We work with community leaders statewide to find positive ways to recycle unproductive property in our inventory – many of which can be turned into housing developments,” State Land Bank Authority Interim Director Jeff Huntington said. “We were fortunate to have team members from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Michigan Housing Development Authority participate in this tour as well as other partners from across the state to learn more about how we can create more affordable housing options for residents.”
Modular and manufactured housing are great alternatives to traditionally built homes and provide affordable options for Michigan’s urban and rural communities. In the Upper Peninsula, affordable housing is in high demand. Ensuring houses are built with quality and affordability in mind is vital.
“I was really impressed with the workmanship applied to the homes being built at the Topeka plant. The features that are being added to these homes allow for a very attractive, affordable option for home buyers,” Marquette County Land Bank Authority Executive Director Anne Giroux said. “The Marquette County Land Bank is currently researching opportunities to facilitate bringing more of this type of product to home buyers in our community.”
Due to a shortage of construction workers contributing to housing being built primarily for mid- to upper-income households, modular housing is an option that can help bridge the gap and create affordable housing for low- to middle-income workers.
“We are particularly interested in modular housing as a potential solution for communities needing to fill the quality housing gap for workers with lower to mid-income jobs,” Habitat for Humanity President and CEO Sandra Pearson said. “I was impressed with what I saw while touring the facility and am taking steps with Habitat affiliates across the state to possibly forge a development purchase collaborative to develop homes which meet our program specifications of affordability, modest size, energy efficiency, durability and accessibility.”
Headquartered in Troy, Champion Homes is the largest single-family home manufacturer in the United States. In August, the State Land Bank attended the installation of a Champion modular home in Romulus. This single-family home now sits on a formerly vacant Land Bank property. The Topeka plant is Champion’s largest manufacturing plant in America, producing 3,500 homes per year which, when broke down, is 27 complete homes each day across three plants on the property.
The Champion plant in Topeka runs like a large-scale assembly line. The three plants on the Topeka campus are home to more than 600 employees who build both manufactured and modular homes.
Employees work to assemble the walls of a bathroom in this home. Each employee has a specific station that they work on that helps keep this swift assembly line moving. These stations include plumbing, electrical work, flooring installation and cabinetry.
Quality control happens as the homes are being built. Employees mark areas that need to be assessed with blue tape, and quality control employees fix them on-the-spot.
Individuals can customize a modular or manufactured home to meet their specifications. This can include specific appliances, flooring, cabinetry and more. All appliances and finishes are installed in the factory.
Employees wrap each home in protective coverings before they are prepared for transport.
27 homes are built each day at the Topeka plant. Each group on this trip was able to tour three different models of completed manufactured homes. Above are two of the three homes.