The challenges identified through researching the background of ECHO housing including zoning issues and examining the demonstration program will clearly need to be addressed before taking the program to a national scale. The evaluation of the HUD ECHO demonstration program resulted in the following recommendations.

  1. Standardized unit designs need to be tested for performance. Units should be manufactured by companies that can assure unit quality, portability, and durability. Designs should fully incorporate Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines and meet theaccessibility needs of the targeted population. Design criteria also need to address various geographic and climatic conditions.
  2. HUD should review internal procedures and sponsor’s responsibilities to assure timely installation of units. Sponsors (or HUD field offices) need to have the required expertise to act as general contractors and to properly evaluate and address site problems. HUD should develop standard procedures for installing units, including insulation and access for repairing mechanical and electrical systems.
  3. A national ECHO program should include detailed specifications for portability in the design of units, as well as detailed procedures for relocating units.
  4. HUD should consult with the factory-built or modular/manufactured housing industry to identify and incorporate design specifications maximizing portability at the lowest possible cost. Optimum designs should be tested for cost and repair implications with repeated disassembly, transport, and reassembly. Based on a five-year relocation cycle, seven relocations would be required over a 40-year period.
  5. An alternative, fixed-location option should be investigated where units are placed in a cluster located to facilitate care giving by relatives and an on-site caregiver.
  6. Detailed guidelines and training for HUD field offices will be required to deal with the unique characteristics and challenges of the ECHO program.
  7. Detailed specifications for sponsors should be developed, along with criteria for sponsor selection. Prospective sponsors should document their experience and expertise in all aspects of the ECHO program, including construction contracting, site evaluation, and property management.
  8. Program materials should be developed to clearly communicate the responsibilities of residents and hosts. These materials should address land-lease, unit rent, income certification, maintenance, policies and procedures governing property improvements, relocation of the unit and restoration of the site. Host/caregiver support materials and resources should be developed and distributed.
  9. Program specifications should address routine (monthly and annual) maintenance schedules and clarify the responsibilities of sponsors and hosts. Policies should clarify the authorization of property improvements provided by the host or tenant, as well as the financial liabilities and obligations of HUD and the sponsor.
  10. Financial feasibility requires a capital subsidy covering the complete cost of construction and siting the unit. In addition, a rent subsidy, or equivalent capital subsidy, is needed to underwrite maintenance, relocation, and repair costs.