Our mission is putting sustainable homeownership within reach of everyone, while transforming the manufactured housing industry one home at a time. 

Next Step is the first and only national strategy and scalable approach to bring factory built homes to nonprofits nationwide. We aggregate demand for the factory built housing industry by organizing, brokering and training nonprofits on the Next Step System for doing business. Our strategy is a direct reaction to the needs of our Network and consists of three primary components:

  1. Building and training a national network of nonprofits to increase nationwide access to affordable factory built housing;
  2. Ensuring that high quality, ENERGY STAR factory built homes are available at wholesale pricing to our Members; and,
  3. Advancing the use of factory built housing as an asset-building strategy for low- to moderate-income Americans.

How Do We Do It?

Next Step gives housing nonprofit organizations tools to assist them in helping local homebuyers secure fixed-rate mortgages using the Next Step System as a roadmap to successful homeownership.

The comprehensive Next Step System ensures both homebuyers and Next Step Homes qualify for safe mortgage financing to sustain homeownership now and for future buyers.

Next Step supports current and future homebuyers while helping housing providers create a new line of business with a new affordable housing solution.

Next Step helps bring down costs for housing providers and homebuyers by creating cost-effective strategies that enable the factory built housing industry to respond to affordable housing development demand.

Next Step develops beautiful ENERGY STAR-rated homes for qualified homebuyers who have completed homebuyer education courses.

Our Homes Can Ensure Successful Homeownership and Stable Communities.

When coupled with homebuyer education and secure financing opportunities provided uniquely by Next Step, these new factory built housing innovations create sustainable living that is also affordable.

Offer An Affordable Housing Mortgage Product for SmartMH KY Homebuyers

Create a new or offer existing mortgage products for homebuyers needing affordable housing financing throughout Kentucky.

Sponsor Expanded Access to Affordable Housing in Kentucky

Provide fiscal sponsorship of the SmartMH KY program to help expand access to affordable manufactured housing in Kentucky.

Want to Join the SmartMH KY Alliance as a Lender, Nonprofit, Individual, Manufacturer, or Utility? Click on the button and submit the form and we’ll contact you to discuss membership.

Why We Work Together

“We’re excited to support Stacey and her team at Next Step and their groundbreaking program that will revolutionize the manufactured housing industry. It’s a perfect alignment with findCRA’s goals and mission as we seek to increase bank support for high impact community initiatives.”

Ben Loehle

CEO & Co-Founder


“Through Next Step’s partnership with findCRA, we have made valuable connections to raise funding that supports new programs like SmartMH KY. We are grateful for the expertise and relationship building services the findCRA team provided, and we are thrilled to find our first bank partner.”

Stacey Epperson

President & CEO

Next Step Network

Better Homes, Better Business

SmartMH℠ KY aims to transform the Kentucky manufactured housing marketplace by increasing ENERGY STAR home production from 1% to 50% in two years.

The SmartMH KY Alliance is a partnership of the manufactured housing industry, lenders, retailers, utilities, nonprofits and public stakeholders committed to increasing access to ENERGY STAR homes with better loans across the Commonwealth.

The SmartMH KY Alliance provides financing for qualified buyers, branding, marketing, training, evaluation and outreach services to support scaling ENERGY STAR manufactured homes in Kentucky.

What is SmartMH℠ KY?

Manufactured homes represent an important source of affordable housing for Kentuckians, accounting for 13.6% of the state’s overall residential stock.

In Kentucky, energy costs can make up a significant portion of a family’s income. Utility companies estimate that on average, utility bills range between $200-400 in the summer and $400-800 in the winter.

Over the last five years, an average of 2,113 manufactured homes was sold with less than 1% certified as ENERGY STAR.

Homes not certified as ENERGY STAR are more expensive to own and operate, and as a result, place undue strain on lower-income families that could benefit most from energy cost savings.

Learn More About SmartMH KY

SmartMH℠ KY Alliance

Louisville-based nonprofit, Next Step Network, is sponsoring the SmartMH℠ KY Alliance, a partnership of the manufactured housing industry, lenders, retailers, utilities, nonprofits and public stakeholders.

The Alliance is committed to increasing access to ENERGY STAR homes with better loans across the Commonwealth through financing for qualified buyers, branding, marketing, training, evaluation and outreach.

The goal of the Alliance is to transform the Kentucky manufactured housing marketplace by increasing ENERGY STAR home production from 1% to 50% in two years by upgrading 1,000 homes.

Next Step identifies loans for ENERGY STAR manufactured homes in Kentucky through SmartMH lenders that meet the program’s mission. SmartMH loans are currently offered through Kentucky Housing Corporation and CU Factory Built Lending.


  • New loan products are available through SmartMH KY lenders when you buy an ENERGY STAR manufactured home in Kentucky.
  • SmartMH KY loans provide extra benefits like good terms, better rates and assistance with down payment or utility costs.
  • ENERGY STAR upgrade on manufactured homes at a small cost or no cost to you.
  • Improved appliance performance, insulation quality and energy efficiency.
  • Improved comfort and efficiency, which turns into lower energy costs over the life of a home built to last.

Manufactured Home Retail Centers

  • Customers receive new lending options and an ENERGY STAR upgrade that adds value at a small cost or no cost to the homebuyer.
  • The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR brand communicates the benefits of owning an ENERGY STAR Qualified home: less expensive to run, more comfortable, better value, and good for the environment.
  • Training on best practices to simplify the ENERGY STAR certification process for manufactured homes and ensure an efficient installation process.
  • Increasing the market for buyers and manufactured homes with more on the ground examples of improved technology and building techniques.

Manufactured Home Installers

  • Join and support a program committed to delivering homes right every time.
  • Training to develop efficiencies when installing ENERGY STAR homes.


  • Training on best practices for appraising ENERGY STAR manufactured homes to ensure that homes are properly valued in the marketplace.
  • Greater efficiency in performing accurate appraisals of higher quality manufactured homes as the marketplace is flooded with homes carrying an easily recognizable and verifiable brand, ENERGY STAR.
  • Increased volume of these manufactured homes will simplify the appraisers’ task of finding useful comparables in more markets.

SmartMH KY Loans

SmartMH℠ KY loans are available when customers buy ENERGY STAR qualified manufactured homes through the following lenders:

Kentucky Housing Corporation is offering low cost mortgages with down payment assistance available. These loans are now available through Key Mortgage Company and CU Factory Built Lending.  Key Mortgage is a local lender in Columbia, Kentucky for stick-built and manufactured homes, new and existing, purchase and refinance.  CU Factory Built Lending is offering home only, land/home, and land-in-lieu loans that come with loan concessions, utility assistance and a trade-in credit of mobile homes toward down payment.

To take advantage of the ENERGY STAR rebate and loan products, eligible homebuyers in Kentucky can visit a SmartMH KY partner retailer that sells manufactured homes built at participating factories.

ENERGY STAR Manufactured Home Upgrade

Customers that purchase manufactured homes from participating factories will qualify for an ENERGY STAR upgrade at a small cost or no cost.

The upgrade is supported by an incentive that participating utilities and Kentucky Housing Corporation pay directly to home builders to offset the additional costs of building ENERGY STAR homes.

Utilities currently participating in the ENERGY STAR upgrade program include East Kentucky Power Cooperative and the Tennessee Valley Authority. To learn which factories are participating, and for utilities or manufacturers that would like to join the program, please contact Gwynne Koch at gkoch@research-alliance.org -or 212-496-0900 x120.

The Alliance supports a new ENERGY STAR manufactured home upgrade program in Kentucky administered by the Systems Building Research Alliance. The program replicates a Tennessee Valley Authority program where the Tennessee Valley Authority paid incentives to manufactured home producers to upgrade homes to ENERGY STAR.

This program has been widely successful – ENERGY STAR manufactured home sales increased from less than 1% of total market share to 70% in two years – and is transforming manufactured home building and sales practices in the Tennessee Valley Authority service area, while helping families that need the financial relief afforded by ENERGY STAR.

In 2015, Systems Building Research Alliance and other stakeholders took the lessons learned from this program to launch a similar program in Kentucky with East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Tennessee Valley Authority, and Kentucky Housing Corporation.

In the program, customers that purchase manufactured homes built by participating factories will qualify for an ENERGY STAR upgrade at a small cost or no cost to the homebuyer. The upgrade is supported by an incentive that Tennessee Valley Authority, East Kentucky Power Cooperative and Kentucky Housing Corporation pay to participating manufacturers to offset the additional costs of building ENERGY STAR homes.

Want to Join the SmartMH KY Alliance as a Lender, Nonprofit, Individual, Manufacturer, or Utility? Click on the button and submit the form and we’ll contact you to discuss membership.

Meet The First Homebuyers In The SmartMH KY Program

Read Brittney's and Donald's Journey to Homeownership

Donald and Brittney Jones both grew up in Cambellsville, Kentucky, and have lived in the area their entire lives. They met during their early childhood years because their parents worked together in the National Guard, and eventually began dating when they attended Taylor County High School  The high school sweethearts married shortly after graduating and set homeownership as a goal for their new family.

Brittney is a housekeeper with a local hospital, while Donald works at the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Kentucky, repairing and inspecting military equipment. Following in his family’s footsteps, Donald has been a Sergeant in the National Guard since 2008, and has worked at the center in Frankfort since 2012. As they began working during and after high school, they rented all over Campbellsville, Kentucky, Unsurprisingly, renting was unaffordable in the long term if they wanted to own their own home.

The fact that they were losing money renting was not lost on the Jones family, but purchasing a home is expensive no matter which way you approach it. In order to achieve their goal of homeownership, they made some sacrifices. For the past year and a half they have been living with Brittney’s parents in order to save money to purchase a home–a smart financial decision that came with the price of being cramped.

While exploring their options for homeownership they found a number of options, both site-built and manufactured. One place they keep coming back to was Goff Homes, also in Campbellsville. After speaking with Eddie Goff, the owner, they realized that with their budget a manufactured home would not only be more affordable, but that they would also get more for their money.

Upon finally deciding to buy, they were introduced to Darrell Overstreet with Key Mortgage, a SmartMH partner in Columbia, Kentucky, who informed them about the ENERGY STAR upgrade program. It seemed simple to Donald and Brittney–get a better home and save money at the same time! With expected utility savings of $66 a month, this home is going to save them money throughout the entire life of the loan.

Because they participated in the upgrade program, they were able to secure a SmartMH loan through the Veteran’s Administration and Kentucky Housing Corporation. With a 30-year fixed rate of 4% and 100% financing with closing costs included, they know they received a good loan.

The details of their loan package required a little extra work, but after hearing what would be included the Jones family was happy to accept the upgrades, like a block foundation and front porch, which they wanted to do anyway. In order to make the financing work and ensure a good home, the loan required an FHA Title II Permanent Foundation and inspection.

Their spacious home was built by Fleetwood Homes to have a warm, welcoming feeling. They achieved this with an open floor plan, including a large living room and kitchen area. With 1800 square feet of living space, Donald and Brittney (along with their four cats and two dogs) will have plenty of room to grow.

Though they had been feeling cramped in their family’s house, they didn’t choose to go far. The location they selected for their home was just down the road, on loan that had been in Brittney’s family for 15 years. This ensured that they would stay close to the things that matter most to them: family, friends and nature.

As we stood inside the new home to take a look and get out of the sweltering heat, it was immediately noticeable how much cooler it was inside than out–and that was without the electricity connected! While they reiterated how happy they were with their experience, we all took comfort in how well the home would provide for them now and in the future.

Hear Why Forcht Bank Chose To Become A Partner In SmartMH KY