Juneau Assembly doubles loan amount available to residents purchasing a mobile home

Manufactured homes in Lemon Creek on Monday, June 17, 2024. (Clarise Larson/KTOO)

Housing is tight in Juneau, and that can make it hard for low or middle-income families who want to settle down. To help address that, the Juneau Assembly is increasing the funding in a city loan program for purchasing mobile homes. 

Since 2016, the city has partnered with True North Federal Credit Union to provide low-interest loans for up to 50% of the down payment of mobile homes, also called manufactured homes. Loan recipients are on the hook for the other 50% and have five years to pay it back.

Assembly member Alicia Hughes-Skandijs is the chair of the Assembly’s Lands Housing and Economic Development Committee. She said offering programs like this is just another creative way the Assembly is trying to help people afford housing. 

“I think it’s super important that we provide a variety of tools, so it’s just biting at the apple every way we can,” she said. 

The loans were previously available for up to $10,000 at 1% interest. But, at a meeting on Monday, the Assembly bumped that up to $20,000. 

Hughes-Skandijs said for many people and families, purchasing a traditional house in Juneau just isn’t financially possible anymore. But, purchasing manufactured homes can be a solid alternative. 

According to a city assessment report, the median sales price of a mobile home on land in 2023 was just under $172,000. The sales price for a single-family residence was more than double at nearly $530,000.

“It’s a way of people getting into homes that they’re actually owning, so if there’s something we can do to make it easier for someone to get into a home, we’d love to help on that front,” Hughes-Skandijs said.

The program is funded with money from the city’s Affordable Housing Fund. City Manager Katie Koester said since the program’s inception, it’s been underutilized — only 14 loans have been taken out. She said she hoped that changes and more people take advantage of it. 

“A lot of times a manufactured home is a young person or a family’s first entry into home ownership,” she said. “So we’re really interested in being able to make sure that they’re able to achieve that, and nothing has gotten any less expensive.”

The Assembly also changed the name of the program to be called the Manufactured Home Down Payment Assistance Program. It was previously called the Mobile Home Down Payment Assistance Program. Hughes-Skandijs said the term “mobile home” can have a negative stigma attached to it.

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