About 22 million Americans live in mobile homes or manufactured housing, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and as the housing crisis continues to worsen in places like ArizonaCalifornia, and New York, that number could go up.

But for some, mobile homes conjure up an image of rusting metal units in weed-choked lots, an unfair stereotype that has real consequences — advocates argue that mobile homes are not only a housing fix but could also help with the climate crisis.

According to Andrew Rumbach, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, mobile homes are a good solution with a bad reputation.

It’s unfair, he said, because the residents of mobile homes are often hampered by restrictive zoning laws that make it hard to upgrade maintenance and care of the structures. These zoning laws also have put communities at risk for climate-related disasters, which explains why so many mobile home parks are in floodplains.

“It’s not the home itself that often makes mobile homes vulnerable,” said Rumbach. “It’s actually the fact that we sort of stuck the poor away in these places that makes them vulnerable.”

A report by the Niskanen Center, a nonprofit public policy organization, echoes Rumbach’s research. The report found that mobile homes have consistently been an affordable and underutilized solution that meets the housing needs of low- and moderate-income people.

Newer models can also be a low-carbon solution as these prefabricated homes, which are built in large pieces for easy assembly, can include things like heat pumps and solar panels, in contrast to older models that relied on propane or natural gas. Older models can also be eligible for retrofits to make them more energy efficient and climate-friendly.

Read the full article about mobile homes as a climate solution by Siri Chilukuri at Grist.