About ten years ago, while she was working in rural Appalachia, Stacy Epperson became acutely aware of the need for quality affordable housing. Recognizing this need, Epperson began to explore how to bring high-performing, new, factory-built homes to communities across the country.
The result was the creation of Next Step, a charitable organization with a mission of helping families gain access to high quality, energy-efficient manufactured homes, while also providing consumers that would be prepared for the challenges of homeownership.
Nearly a decade later, the efforts of Next Step are having a huge impact on manufactured homeownership in America. Consider this graphic from their 2019 Annual Report.
Next Steps programs have expanded and evolved over the years. Today they offer programs like SmartMH™ and Seeker™ for potential home buyers that are close to homeownership and need a little education and assistance. These programs educate consumers about the positive aspects of manufactured homes as well as what to expect during the homebuying process. Additionally, Next Step programs can assist a future homeowner with that final boost they need to get into a manufactured home.
Finally, Next Step has moved into the development space by consulting with developers about how manufactured housing can fit into their projects. Additionally, they are active in bridging the gap with local elected leaders on the virtues of providing affordable manufactured homes. They have been active in assisting developers in over a dozen instances in their recent past.
Chris Nicely the CEO of Next Step states that, as Next Step approaches its tenth anniversary, its future looks bright. “We are focused on helping home buyers understand the potential of factory-built housing and showcase today’s manufactured home,” Nicely said. “While at the same time, many of these efforts can result in increased sales for the industry. Programs and tools like SmartMH™ and Seeker™ provide help for home buyers that are close to homeownership, and need a little hand up.”