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MHARR Pans Field Hearing: HUD is the Bigger Hurdle

December 1st, 2011 Comments off

The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) participated in the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee’s field hearing on “The State of Manufactured Housing” held in Danville, VA Nov. 29, 2011, submitting written testimony on the need for congressional oversight of the Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s manufactured housing program. MHARR says the field hearing, with the exception of the elementary overview of the HUD program by its administrator, and a MH resident satisfied with her home, focused primarily on the lack of available financing and the anticipated negative impacts of the SAFE Act and the Dodd-Frank law, and included Kevin Clayton, CEO of Clayton Homes, the nation’s largest producer of  MH. MHARR has consistently and repeatedly maintained HUD has failed to comply with key reform provisions of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000. “The smaller businesses represented by MHARR have major and specific grievances based on HUD’s failure to fully and properly implement key reform provisions of this law designed to ensure that manufactured homes are treated as housing rather than ‘trailers’–distorting some, ignoring others and effectively reading yet others out of the law entirely by process of ‘interpretation.’ This failure negatively impacts all aspects of the industry and the use and availability of manufactured homes, including the availability of financing for mostly lower and moderate-income home buyers. Yet, neither they nor the independent expert witnesses they identified for the Committee are here today because of changes to the venue and focus of the hearing.” MHARR insists the industry will not improve until HUD fully complies with the reforms.

(Graphic credit: MHARR)

MH Field Hearing Yields HUD, MHI, Industry, and Resident Viewpoints

November 30th, 2011 Comments off

At the “State of the Manufactured Housing Industry” Congressional Field Hearings in Danville, Virginia, Nov. 29, members of the House Congressional Subcommittee on Housing, Insurance, and Community Opportunity heard from a variety of persons in the MH arena.

Henry Czauski, Acting Deputy Administrator for the Office of Manufactured Housing programs, noted the affordability aspect of Manufactured Housing (MH) to moderate and low-income families. He stressed the importance of federal regulations in ensuring MH is built to standards that enhance the safety and security of the structure, and the involvement of the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) in that process. Noting that the “certification” fees HUD collects on each MH section has declined with the decrease in sales, he said Congress has appropriated funding to supplement these fees in three of the last four years.

Kevin Clayton, president and CEO of Clayton Homes, and secretary of the Executive Committee for the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), testified that 72 percent of all new homes sold in 2010 under $125,000 were manufactured homes. While noting that the industry as a whole provided 75,000 full-time jobs in 2010, 200,000 jobs have been lost as the industry has declined. Clayton said provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act will disparately impact manufactured home lending, that the SAFE ACT, now under the auspices of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) needs clarification in its implementation, and that HUD’s outdated building codes and guidance on preemption have left the industry vulnerable to state and local regulators.

Tyler Craddock, of the Virginia Manufactured and Modular Housing Association, said manufactured housing comprises 5.6% of all the housing in Virginia, but in many rural areas where construction labor is not readily available, 15-20% of the housing is MH. Craddock said factory-built housing sales are moving more in the direction of modular in his area, and blamed the lack of affordable financing for consumers wanting to purchase manufactured housing.

Adam Rust, research director of the Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina, noting the difficulty in obtaining financing for MH, said a person applying for a manufactured home loan is three times more likely to be turned down than someone applying for a site-built home loan. Rust said GSEs could be restructured to make financing more available to persons buying manufactured homes, because interest rates are too high and consumer protection is too low. He also suggested making funds available for community groups to buy MHCs.

Stanley Rush, of MHD Empire Service Corporation, says SAFE Act implementation is hurting MH salespeople who are only helping consumers with paperwork, not with lending decisions. With so many sources of lending drying up because regulators are encouraging lenders to stay away from MH loans, the industry is being further crippled, Rush stated.

J. Scott Yates, president of Yates Homes of Pittsylvania County in Virginia, testified his company has dropped to five employees from 19, and from selling 180 homes a year to only 30. Yates said he is now selling modular homes to keep his company alive because the codes are the same for site-built homes and financing is easier to obtain. He said the big loser is the American consumer of more modest means.

MH Virginia resident Carla Burr said she could only afford her $113,000 home because she had sold her condo and had the cash. Her other option was to finance the home at 10 percent, despite a good credit rating, a figure she says prevents many people from being able to afford MH. She said not only does the government need to promote manufactured housing through the myriad of programs already existing, but it also needs to protect community residents who sometimes are at the mercy of unscrupulous community owners.

MHARR provided written testimony for the committee.

(Editor’s Note: The full written portion of the statements from each of the above are available for your download and reading here below).

Mr. Henry S. Czauski, Acting Deputy Administrator for Manufactured Housing Program, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Mr. Kevin Clayton, President and Chief Executive Officer, Clayton Homes, Secretary for the Executive Committee of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI)

Mr. Tyler Craddock, Executive Director, Virginia Manufactured and Modular Housing Association

Mr. Stan Rush, Account Representative, Haylor, Freyer and Coon, Inc.

Mr. J. Scott Yates, President, Yates Homes

Mr. Adam Rust, Research Director, Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina

Ms. Carla Burr, Manufactured Housing Resident

Written Testimony submitted by Danny Ghorbani for the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR)


(Graphic credit: Wikipedia  U.S. House of Representatives)

Academia, Industry Collaborate to Build Sustainable Modular Homes

July 13th, 2011 Comments off

Newswise says the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification Commission and Community Revitalization Commission has awarded a $2,445,000 grant to the University of Virginia (U.Va.) to design, develop and manufacture affordable, energy-efficient and disaster-recovery housing.  The focus will be on economic revitalization in formerly tobacco-dependent communities by creating 50 jobs in state-of-the-art facilities that will produce modular homes, primarily in Southwest and Southside Virginia.  While U.Va. is the lead partner with its architecture, engineering and applied science departments, it is collaborating with several organizations and agencies, as well as Cardinal Homes, Inc., of Wylliesburg, VA, a modular builder, and SIPS (Structured Insulated Panel System) of Danville, VA.  Computer-aided digital fabrication will be used by interdisciplinary students to build three disaster-relief prototype modular houses, including one in Haiti.  The dwellings will later be evaluated for energy efficiency.  The grant may be extended after two years.

(Stock Photo)