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Alternative Shelter

A Fellow Who Really Needs Shelter

May 18, 1986|Terence M. Green

Who has the worst job in the world--or at least in the world of televised professional sports? It has to be the ice hockey goalie.

People actually attending the game see him keep the puck out of the goal he's guarding--typically 30 to 40 or more shots per game--for every time it gets past him as a point for the other side. If a whole hockey game is televised, the viewers, of course, see the same thing.

But most people's exposure to hockey is the sports segment on the nightly news, and the coverage seems to be 90% to 98% shots of the puck flying into the goal while the goalie is either half a mile out of position or flat on his back, or both.

(Other sports figures who are much in the camera's eye don't have nothing but their mistakes broadcast.)

What the poor goalie needs is shelter--from the promulgation of this pejorative public image--and his is such a specialized case that very little if anything can be done about it. But, leaving the whimsy behind, that's not true in all cases of those who suffer from lack of shelter in its true sense.

There are many facets to the problem but they all boil down to money. And that divides into two, the down payment and the monthly payment.

The recent downswing in interest rates has done a lot to make the monthly payment less of the unjumpable hurdle that it had been in recent years.

In fact, the National Assn. of Realtors, referring only to resale housing, has reported that for three months, December, January and February, the median-income ($28,283) American family could afford an 80% mortgage on the median-price ($80,000) home (prices are higher in California) for the first time since 1978. That's not a complete solution but it certainly helps.

Still left, though, is the down payment problem. Most of the younger families--in their 20s and early 30s--don't have the chance of the proverbial icicle in Gehenna of scraping together the down payment without outside help.

That's almost always the role of the parents, and if they can't help, the young family usually has to resign itself to renting for the foreseeable future.

A complete solution to this double problem is probably unreachable but a number of partial solutions exist. One was mentioned earlier, lower interest rates.

Another is lower home prices, which cuts down the amounts of both the down and the monthly payments. There is where several alternative forms of shelter can be helpful.

Three sorts have the conventional appearance, manufactured, pre-cut and panelized. More unconventional are domes and log houses.

In all cases the structure itself is less expensive than the equivalent site-built home and, in all but the manufactured house, can be a very great deal less expensive if the buyer is in a position to do some or most of the construction work himself. (Manufactured homes come from the factory in one or more segments that must be joined on the site, a ticklish job and only for professionals.)

With both conventional and alternative housing, the cost of the lot, the foundation work and things of that sort are the same for the same thing so the saving is only in the structure itself. But in many cases it can be enough to make the difference between being a homeowner or a renter.

The former Western Manufactured Housing Institute (1100 N. Tustin Ave., Suite 207, Anaheim 92807), for 50 years the trade association of home manufacturers and their suppliers in the western states, has restructured itself to include all segments of the manufactured housing industry. Concurrently, it has changed its name to the California Manufactured Housing Institute.

Now limiting itself to California, the institute is composed of five divisions: manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, park owners/developers and providers of financial services. The chairman of the institute's Operations Committee is Jess Maxcy.

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