8  Local partnerships

These solutions involve the coordination of two or more jurisdictions to solve issues that impact specific areas of the region not contained within a single locality. While some of these may address issues that impact the region at large, the implementation of these solutions might best suit partnerships between two or more local governments.

8.1 Primary solutions

8.1.1 Invest in homebuyer readiness programs

Amherst, Appomattox, and Campbell counties

Issue: Increasing operations and capacity for first time homebuyer readiness.

Homeownership rates have been declining in recent years in all counties but Bedford, and the loss of younger households is common among all counties. Many young families currently leave the county because they are unable to find or afford a starter home in their community. Many young residents face real or perceived barriers to homeownership, including the inability to qualify for mortgage financing because of credit challenges, insufficient savings, or job instability/irregularity.

Solution: Expand the network of homebuyer assistance in counties with lowest homeownership rates.

Localities have an interest in providing opportunities for its own residents (especially young workers and young families) to buy a home and stay in the counties. Using local money to specifically enhance operations and capacity and extend these services beyond one organization would bolster current efforts and increase accessibility for residents served both within the city and in the adjacent localities. By working together, these counties can pool resources and potentially achieve more efficient outcomes.


Over the past few decades, homebuyer education programs and counseling have gained prominence in the United States, particularly following the 2009-2012 Great Recession. This period witnessed a significant shift in lenders’ requirements for mortgage credit, introducing stricter criteria like higher credit ratings, lower loan-to-value ratios, increased down payments, and mandatory private mortgage insurance.

Homebuyer readiness programs provide a diverse array of services including individual counseling, group sessions, credit repair, homebuyer savings clubs, down payment match programs, financial management, budgeting, homeownership responsibilities, home maintenance, legal considerations, and foreclosure counseling.

In Virginia, most lenders necessitate homebuyers to partake in a homebuyer education class approved by Virginia Housing (previously VHDA). These classes can be in-person or online, and while Virginia Housing provides a majority of them, private lenders and nonprofit organizations like Community Housing Partners also offer similar programs. While online or group counseling may suffice for some homebuyers, others may require extensive assistance incorporating credit repair, individual counseling, and down payment savings plans.


Immediate (within 6 months):

  • Stakeholder Identification and Engagement: Identify and engage with key stakeholders and partners, including mortgage lenders, realtors, and nonprofits that already serve the counties. Key stakeholders also can include renters in the area that are interested in homeownership to pilot these new education programs. This stage should involve setting up meetings to discuss roles, responsibilities, and potential contributions.

  • Needs Assessment: Conduct a comprehensive assessment of existing homebuyer education programs to identify gaps and areas for improvement. This would include a survey of potential homebuyers and existing homeowners

  • Project Planning: Develop a comprehensive project plan that outlines the objectives, deliverables, timeline, and resources required for the initiative.

Short-term (within 12 months):

  • Curriculum Development: Collaborate with housing and financial experts to design an improved homebuyer education curriculum. This should include topics like financial management, understanding mortgage terms, and homeownership responsibilities, and should draw from established agencies and approaches like those from Virginia Housing or the Homeownership Center in Elkins, WV.

  • Staff Training and Capacity Building: Organize training sessions for counselors and other key personnel who will deliver the program. Training should cover the curriculum, teaching methods, and strategies for engaging with diverse groups of homebuyers.

Long-term (within 24 months):

  • Marketing and Promotion: Develop and launch a marketing campaign to raise awareness about the program. This can involve social media promotion, community events, and partnerships with local media outlets.

  • Program Monitoring and Evaluation: Establish a system for continuous monitoring and evaluation of the program. This can involve tracking key performance indicators, collecting participant feedback, and conducting regular program reviews.

  • Program Scaling: Based on the evaluation results, make necessary adjustments and scale up the program to serve more homebuyers. This might involve expanding to new locations, offering additional services, or partnering with more organizations.


  • Public entities like Virginia Housing may lead the initiative, providing approval for the program, facilitating partnerships, and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.

  • Private entities such as mortgage lenders and real estate companies can offer support through funding, collaboration, and implementation of the programs.

  • Nonprofit organizations like Community Housing Partners can contribute through program delivery, community outreach, and offering resources such as counseling and training.


  • Housing counseling and homeownership education programs require funding. Virginia Housing and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development provide some funding for these activities. Most counseling agencies will have already determined which of these funds they are able to access and under what circumstances. The funding source may not always cover the entire cost of the counseling activity, especially when that activity must be conducted at a significant distance from the home office.

  • Some banks as well as larger realty organizations may be willing to participate in providing support for housing counseling. Such contributions provide Community Reinvestment Act credits to the banking institution, which are important to the bank when it goes through its periodic review by its regulatory agency.


Start-up costs would include program design and development, training for personnel, and initial marketing efforts. Long-term operational costs would cover ongoing program delivery, personnel costs, monitoring and evaluation, and continual program improvements


  • Government grants and funding:

    • Federal: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides grants for housing counseling agencies. These agencies can use the funding to offer a variety of services, including homebuyer education courses.

    • State and Local: In Virginia, the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) offers resources for first-time homebuyer classes.

  • Banks and credit unions: These groups have programs dedicated to community development and reinvestment, which can include funding for homebuyer education. These institutions may be particularly interested in supporting these programs, as educated homebuyers can become more reliable borrowers.

  • Private partnerships: Companies outside of the housing sector may also be interested in sponsoring these types of programs as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. This could be particularly true for companies looking to invest in the communities where they operate.


  • Number of individuals and families served

  • Improvement in participants’ financial literacy

  • Number of first-time homebuyers

  • Reductions in foreclosures

  • Participant feedback and satisfaction


Increasing homebuyer readiness programs in a region is projected to have a significant positive impact on both individuals and the broader community. These programs, which provide prospective buyers with financial literacy education, knowledge about the home buying process, and potentially access to down-payment assistance, can increase the homeownership rate, particularly among first-time and low-income homebuyers.

This leads to greater housing stability for individuals and families, who gain an important asset and a sense of belonging in their community. Additionally, higher rates of homeownership can enhance local economies, as homeowners are more likely to invest in their properties and local businesses, leading to neighborhood revitalization.


HOME of Virginia’s Homeownership Education Program

Richmond, Virginia


Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia, Inc. (HOME of Virginia) offers pre-purchase homeownership education courses. The curriculum includes understanding credit, managing money, obtaining a mortgage loan, shopping for a home, and maintaining a home and finances.


Since 1991, over 2,000 families have received downpayment assistance for a total local economic impact over $95,000,000 in the Richmond area. In 2022, over 400 financial literacy courses were conducted.

HOME of Virginia - Homeownership

HomeOwnership Center, Inc.

Elkin, West Virginia


The non-profit led center serves multiple counties to provide community based lending, advising, and educational resource for individuals and families of any income level.


Over the last five years, over 234 new homeownership opportunities have been created and preserved and over 1,200 customers have received education and counseling services.

HomeOwnership Center, Inc. - Advising and Education

8.1.2 Identify sustainable approaches for manufactured homes

Amherst and Appomattox counties

Issue: Increased placements of new manufactured homes (and poor quality of existing, older ones) may run counter to counties’ growth goals.

The rising cost of homeownership is leading many buyers to manufactured homes as an affordable solution, particularly in Amherst and Appomattox counties. Because state law requires localities to permit manufactured homes as a by-right use on land zoned for agricultural use, many of these new homes are now located away from public utilities and other services. Furthermore, the existing supply of older manufactured homes (especially those built prior to the 1976 HUD code) is an undesirable component of the counties’ housing stock. These units are beyond their functional lifespan and present significant health and safety issues.

Solution: Explore land use, fiscal, and other mechanisms to ensure manufactured homes benefit both homeowners and the community in the long term.

This recommendation investigates and proposes specific actions these counties could take to address these issues. Options include evaluating zoning ordinance changes to influence the placement of new manufactured homes, identifying incentive opportunities within real estate assessment and related tax schemes, and leveraging grant funds to support the disposal of dangerous pre-1976 mobile homes.


This solution includes three primary tasks, along with recommendations for prerequisite data analysis to better inform potential decisions. While these tasks are not dependent on one another, success is more likely if the localities simultaneously pursue at least two options together.

Data analysis: Determine scope and scale of manufactured home placements

Amherst and Appomattox should combine their residential permit and assessment data to further investigate the deliveries of factory-built housing in more isolated sections of their counties. Data should be inclusive of multiple years (at least three, ideally five or more) to increase sample size and reveal any important trends.

Data should be analyzed to answer the following questions, which will provide staff and leadership with important context:

  • How many manufactured and site-built homes were permitted within each zoning district? (i.e. A-1 versus R-1, R-2, etc.)

  • How many manufactured and site-built homes were permitted in areas served and not served by public utilities?

  • What were the original assessed values (improvements only) and purchase prices of newly placed manufactured homes?

  • What specific areas, neighborhoods, or corridors (in A-1 districts and elsewhere), if any, were new manufactured homes highly concentrated?

Once completed, staff should prepare a joint memo to share findings with planning commissioners (and supervisors, if desired) of both counties. This memo could also outline some of the potential solution steps described below.

TASK 1: Evaluate and amend zoning ordinances

All new homes—whether built on site or in a factory—must conform to local zoning codes. While local governments in Virginia generally have broad powers to regulate residential uses in their zoning ordinances, state code (§ 15.2-2290) requires localities to permit manufactured homes:

“. . . in all agricultural zoning districts or districts having similar classifications regardless of name or designation. . .”

Still, manufactured homes must be on an individual lot (with no other residential units) and secured to a permanent foundation. The code does give localities the authority to apply general development standards in these districts, but those must apply to both site-built and manufactured homes.

Both Amherst’s A-1 Agricultural Residential District and Appomattox’s A-1 Agricultural District comply with these requirements. Together, these districts comprise the vast majority of land across both counties.

Described below are several options the counties could pursue to address this challenge via zoning code reform. These are workable approaches that comply with state code and do not attempt to define manufactured homes differently than the state’s definition, which is also not permitted. However, each option has notable downsides that may easily outweigh potential benefits.

  • Option 1: Rezone certain A-1 areas to existing residential districts that do not allow manufactured homes by-right.

    • Does not require amending existing or creating new zoning districts

    • Loss of parcels dedicated to agriculture

    • Could promote additional sprawl

  • Option 2: Increase general residential development standards in A-1 districts to disincentivize new manufactured homes.

    • No rezonings required

    • Cannot differentiate requirements between site-built or manufactured home

    • Site-built homes affected as regulatory “collateral damage”

  • Option 3: Update existing residential districts in preferred growth areas to incentivize manufactured home placements.

    • No rezonings required

    • Does not prevent additional manufactured home placements in A-1 zones

    • Higher land costs in these areas may cancel out any incentives

  • Option 4: Propose a new non-agricultural zoning district that limits manufactured home placements while retaining open space and land conservation elements

    • Does not change existing districts, but requires rezonings

    • Could be difficult to design effectively

    • Loss of parcels dedicated to agriculture

Staff from both counties should collaboratively evaluate the pros and cons of these options for their respective communities. If no workable solution via zoning is possible, then staff should focus attention on the remaining task options.

TASK 2: Identify possible tax and financial incentives

Consult with county attorneys to determine fiscal incentives localities can implement under existing state code. Establish certain manufactured home quality criteria that new placements should meet to receive incentives, such as energy efficiency performance and roof type.

Consider reduced or waived hookup fees, along with real estate tax rebates or abatements, for:

  • Manufactured homes in areas served by utilities,

  • Manufactured homes that meet certain quality criteria, and/or

  • Low-cost modular and site-built homes as alternatives to manufactured homes.

Consider increased hookup fees for:

  • Manufactured homes in areas not served by utilities, and/or

  • Manufactured homes that do not meet certain quality criteria.

TASK 3: Secure new funding and create incentives to eradicate old mobile homes

Work with CVPDC, Virginia Housing, and DHCD to identify and jointly apply for funding that:

  • Covers some or all expenses associated with demolition and disposal of pre-1976 mobile homes, and

  • Provides extremely low-income residents (in those homes) with relocation assistance to find new permanent housing.

Conduct proactive outreach to residents in poorest-quality homes and connect with service providers to begin evaluating alternative housing arrangements.

Criteria to prioritize mobile home replacements will help triage properties/residents with greatest needs. Should consider:

  • Number of and severity of housing problems (e.g. no heat, water leaks, missing windows, etc.),

  • Resident income and assets,

  • Resident physical and/or mental disabilities,

  • Presence of seniors and/or children,

  • Other attributes as needed

Develop streamlined process for demolition/disposal pre-approval. Consider reducing, waiving, or refunding permit fees. Identify qualified contractors to complete work.


Immediate (within 6 months):

  • Begin data collection and analysis.

  • Seek county attorney opinions on zoning options and potential financial incentives (via hookup fee changes and real estate tax rebates/abatements).

  • Start preliminary conversations with partners and stakeholders regarding:

    • Possible zoning ordinance changes,

    • Possible fee and real estate tax changes,

    • Funding sources for removal of substandard mobile homes, and

    • Strategies to successfully relocate residents in those homes.

Short-term (within 12 months):

  • Finish data analysis, prepare memo with major findings, and share results with county leadership.

  • Draft any and all zoning amendments determined as potentially effective solutions.

  • Draft any and all ordinances related to tax and fee policies.

  • Prepare explanatory info sheets and presentations for any proposed changes; use to proactively educate public, planning commissioners, and supervisors.

  • Prepare and submit applications for funding that supports substandard mobile home decommissioning.

  • Establish criteria to prioritize mobile home replacements.

Long-term (within 24 months):

  • Initiate formal public hearing process for any amendments to the zoning ordinance and/or county fiscal policy.

  • Roll out a coordinated system to incentivize removal and replacement of old mobile homes.


County staff: Undertake data analysis, hire consultants and engage experts as necessary, submit applications for new funding sources, evaluate and recommend changes to county policies.

Planning commissioners and supervisors: Provide direction and feedback on staff reports and proposals, facilitate community input at public hearings, approve or amend (or reject) proposed reforms.

CVPDC: As needed, support staff from both counties with technical assistance and facilitate meetings with state agencies and other potential funders.

Housing service providers: Coordinate with counties on outreach to mobile home residents, implement new/expanded programs with new funding secured by counties.


  • The range of possible zoning changes include options that should be vetted by county attorneys to assess whether legitimate takings claims (or other challenges) could be presented. Changes to county fee regimens should also be evaluated to ensure compliance with any relevant state code requirements. Limited to no legal issues should be expected for a replacement program.

  • Identifying, decommissioning, and disposing of old mobile homes are the costliest activities described in this solution. The total cost per unit can easily exceed several thousand dollars. Additionally, further significant costs could be incurred if resident relocation funds were also included at meaningful amounts.

  • All together, these tasks would require significant levels of dedicated staff time and coordination. Should the counties work together, they are best served by developing a joint action plan that taps into specific staff skills and capabilities while also respecting their capacity.


  • Investigating and possibly implementing zoning changes could be work that is incorporated into the normal workload and budget cycles for planning departments. However, should staff elect to hire consultants to assist with this work, contract prices might range from $5,000 to $25,000 depending on scope and other elements.

  • Disposal costs for substandard mobile homes could reach $10,000 per unit. At that price, successful remediation of just 25 homes would total $250,000.

  • Effective residential relocation assistance could reach several thousand dollars per household.


Funding options to support the removal (and potential replacement) of substandard manufactured homes:

  • Federal (via DHCD): CDBG, HOME, Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)

  • Local: Dedicated general fund revenue, special fees or assessments

  • Private: Local philanthropic foundations and other donors


  • Number of new manufactured home placements relative to site-built production

  • Number of new manufactured home placements in areas served by, and not served by, public utilities

  • Number of substandard mobile homes removed from housing stock

  • Number of households previously in substandard mobile homes now in safe housing


There are approximately 1,700 manufactured homes in Amherst County, and another 1,200 in Appomattox County. With a conservative estimate that one in ten of these homes are obsolete, nearly 300 homes could be targeted for replacement. Strategically prioritizing certain properties could help revitalize certain streets or neighborhoods, and provide their previous occupants (if any) with a better quality of life in new housing.

8.1.3 Address common challenges in manufactured home communities

Bedford and Campbell counties

Issue: Manufactured housing offers affordable housing but is often plagued with housing quality issues, especially in mobile home parks.

Although manufactured homes provide a much-needed source of low-cost housing, particularly in rural areas, they have challenges. Older mobile homes often present serious health, safety, and energy efficiency hazards; dealer financing for manufactured homes may be predatory; and homes in parks, although typically owned by their occupants, are not titled as real estate—leading to depreciation and an absence of opportunities for wealth-building. Additionally, rising costs in the region and rental instability have forced families to double up with others or live in informal homelessness situations that can be hard to track in mobile home communities.

Solution: Survey and assess existing mobile home parks to inform resource allocations and policy decisions that address rehabilitation and overcrowding.


While present in all counties, Bedford and Campbell hold the lion’s share of the region’s manufactured home communities, including smaller communities of two to four mobile homes. Undertaking a comprehensive inventory of these communities, most of which have less than 50 homes, will produce important data on existing structural conditions and capture additional demographic information related to Continuum of Care goals. Furthermore, analysis of local land use and assessment guidelines can help determine how local governments might be placing unnecessary barriers on these communities.

This investigatory work would provide policymakers and practitioners with a clearer picture of current needs, setting up a stronger foundation for subsequent policy and programmatic solutions. These might include pursuing replacement/infill homes in parks, targeted outreach of social assistance programs, and supporting the acquisition of at-risk communities by nonprofits. Study elements should include, at a minimum:

  • Profile of households living in manufactured homes using Census data and American Community Survey estimates. Detailed cross-tabulations may also be possible through the use of the Public Use Microdata Sample.

  • Profile of manufactured home communities, completed via windshield surveys and other direct forms of data collection. The survey should collect and verify information such as:

    • Number of units

    • Design features (signage, curb and gutter, lighting, parking, etc.)

    • Housing conditions (age, foundations, presence of accessory structures, façade conditions, etc.)

    • On-site services (office/management building, trash and recycling, playgrounds, etc.)

    • Connectivity relative to transportation and amenities

  • Park typologies, categorizing communities and their needs to better tailor policies and interventions.

  • Affordability analysis based on available income estimates from Census/ACS data and published lot rents and fees for parks.

  • Analysis of local land use and assessment guidelines for manufactured homes and mobile home parks. Does local zoning permit new parks? How do local governments permit replacement/infill homes in parks, if at all?

If determined to be a necessary component of the study’s scope, these findings may also be followed by specific policy recommendations for local governments in the Lynchburg region.

HousingForward Virginia recommends that the study’s findings be released publicly to ensure policymakers, elected officials, planners, and others understand the nuances of manufactured housing and think beyond common stereotypes. Press releases, media outreach, and a “rollout” presentation/event are possible options.


Immediate (within 6 months):

  • Determine if research will be conducted “internally” by CVPDC and local government staff, or if project will be contracted out to a third-party firm.

  • Gather a list of persons and organizations in the region (and potentially across the state) who might serve as project advisors due to their knowledge and background.

  • Contact local planning and zoning officials to determine if they have reliable lists of manufactured home communities in their jurisdictions.

  • Develop list of potential funding entities; submit proposals to interested parties.

Short-term (within 12 months):

  • Create a standardized database for known manufactured home communities in the region. At the very least, this database should include: park name, address, owner/manager, number of occupied homes, number of pads, number of homes owned versus leased, utility statuses, lot rents and fees, and records of recent sales.

  • Develop park survey criteria and methodology. If possible, outreach to park owners to collect information about lot rents and other community data.

  • Begin Census data collection and analysis.

Long-term (within 24 months):

  • Conduct in-person park survey to gather on-the-ground information about community and housing conditions.

  • Draft and finalize report, including analysis of findings and key takeaways for policymakers.

  • Determine and implement process for public dissemination of the study. Identify and pursue any key next steps identified in the report.

Follow-up tasks:

  • Conduct a scaled-down “check-in” survey to parks in the region to determine if the number of units or vacancy rates have changed.

  • Make note of any significant changes in park ownership; take advantage of new owners looking to make good impressions in the community.


  • There are few legal barriers for completing this work. However, in-person surveys of parks may require entering private property not within the public right-of-way and, if necessary, should be done with the owner’s permission.

  • A comprehensive survey is not a likely task to be completed within the normal scope of work and budgets for CVPDC and other local government departments. Therefore, it is recommended that new discrete funding be pursued to complete this work.

  • CVPDC and local government staff possess the technical expertise to conduct a study of this type. However, they may not have the time or capacity to complete it. It is recommended that a consultant or dedicated research unit be considered for this project.


  • Some aspects of this solution may be completed without major funding required, including the creation of a region-wide database for manufactured home communities. The Department of Homeland Security already has a list of manufactured homes for the nation with limited information.
  • Cost estimates for a full study will vary depending on the number of parks that require physical visits, along with the amount of complementary analysis/research determined to be useful. Expect a range of $25,000 to $75,000.


Public funds may come from collective funding from local governments, and/or from Virginia Housing. Private funds may be available from philanthropic organizations interested in housing, health, poverty, and legal aid.


  • Major knowledge gaps should be filled when this study is completed, including:

    • Exactly how many mobile home parks are in Bedford and Campbell Counties?

    • How many households live in these communities?

    • What are the major strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for parks?

    • What are the demographics and socioeconomic situations of park residents?

  • Success may also be measured by shifts in funding/service priorities for local governments and community development organizations, to focus on manufactured home communities.


  • CVPDC and local governments will initiate this solution, develop scope of work, and determine who and how will conduct the research.

  • Research team, which may be a third-party consultant, will develop survey criteria, complete Census data analysis, and conduct on-the-ground assessments of mobile home parks.

  • Virginia Legal Aid Society, Bedford Housing Coalition, and other direct service organizations who might already serve park residents can act as liaisons for researchers, and provide valuable insights into household needs.


MHCCV Central Virginia manufactured home community study

The Manufactured Home Community Coalition of Virginia (MHCCV) completed a comprehensive study of manufactured home communities in the Richmond region in 2016. This study was commissioned by an affordable housing nonprofit called project:HOMES, who later acquired a 50-unit trailer park along Route 1 in Chesterfield County.

Project:HOMES has a long-term plan to revitalize the park by replacing each unit with high-quality, energy efficient manufactured homes. In addition, they have invested significant resources to improve infrastructure, create a community center, and hire bilingual staff to support and engage with residents.

MHCCV - Central Virginia Study

project:HOMES - Bermuda Estates