Manufactured housing: longevity vs. affordability

In response to your Aug. 14 Homefront article "Manufactured homes go mainstream": There is a critical difference between mobile homes – which is what they will always be, no matter how stationary, fancy, or expensive – and site-built homes: longevity.

Ask any banker if she'll give a competitive-rate, 30-year mortgage loan to someone buying a used "manufactured" home more than 10 years old. While site-built houses have a minimum lifespan of 60 years, and most decently constructed ones will last a century with basic maintenance, no amount of care will keep a "manufactured" house in salable condition longer than 30 years, or minimally habitable longer than 50. "Manufactured" homes never increase in value. They may depreciate less rapidly but just as surely as cars or boats. "Manufactured" housing is a scam.
Lisa M. Aug
Waddy, Ky.

Your article invites the question: When do homes manufactured partially off-site cease to be mobile (and manufactured) and just become homes? Zoning and land-use restrictions sometimes prevent manufactured housing from providing an affordable option. Unfortunately, these are often accompanied by other restrictions – many of which are designed to reduce "urban sprawl."

Homeowners can misuse these regulations to keep affordable housing projects out of their neighborhoods. City planners need to learn that they are often the biggest obstacles to obtaining affordable housing for all Americans.
Devon M. Herrick

Reading Iran's intentions

Regarding "Iran quietly signals openness to terror fight" (Aug. 13): Intracultural communication is a difficult process. I am concerned about assumptions regarding the recent Iranian action in turning over Al Qaeda members to Saudi Arabia.

I am grateful for this indication that Iran is concerned about terrorist activities of this group. Because they are surely aware that the Saudi government will turn appropriate information over to the US government, it also indicates a willingness to cooperate with the US in this specific matter.

On the other hand, I do not think it wise to extrapolate from this event messages about Iraq, nor to assume the action constitutes a blank check for US military action there. It is a gesture of goodwill, but let us be cautious in regard to inserting messages that we have not verified.
Amrita Burdick
Kansas City, Mo.

Power equals pollution

"California's latest 'car' trend" (Aug. 13) contained a common misunderstanding. It is incorrect that an electric golf cart doesn't pollute. Fuels must be burned to generate the electricity.

With electric vehicles, the source of the pollution is moved from the tailpipe of a motor vehicle to the smokestack of an electric power plant. There is still pollution! There is no free lunch when it comes to power generation, just a shifting of the point at which man intervenes in nature.
Lamar Ford
Manassas, Va.

US motives in Iraq are suspicious

Helena Cobban is right in seeking to question George Bush's casus belli for a war on Iraq ("The elusive case for a US-Iraq war," Opinion, Aug. 15). But as a lot of people already know, the real casus belli is not regime change or the destruction of WMDs. It's securing American interests. In other words, securing oil. It is time Americans learned the art of distinguishing spin from fact and question the motives of their government.
L. George
Sydney, Australia

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