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Posts Tagged ‘HUD’

MHI Briefs Congress on Finance and Energy Issues for Manufactured Housing

January 20th, 2011 No comments

MHI logoArlington, VA (January 19, 2011) – MHI industry members participated in a high-level briefing on Capitol Hill today focused on high energy performance in manufactured and modular homes. Emanuel Levy, Systems Building Research Alliance, and Kevin Clayton, Clayton Homes, Inc., presented to a standing-room only audience.

Manufactured Housing Congressional Caucus co-chair Ken Calvert (R-CA) kicked off the event remarking on the importance manufactured housing plays in employing some of the most cutting-edge building practices in the energy arena. Congressman Calvert also stressed that the lack of available financing limits consumer accessibility to manufactured housing, “Many Americans lack the ability to buy a manufactured home due to lack of credit and capital available,” he said, “that is not right and needs to be fixed.”

The briefing addressed “manufactured” housing, built in a factory to federal standards (the “HUD Code”) – and “modular” housing, made with prefabricated components and assembled on site to local code. The latest research and innovation to make housing more affordable for more American home buyers and more sustainable for everyone’s benefit was provided in addition to the many benefits of factory-built housing.

“We were pleased to have the opportunity to share with Congress the industry’s progress in making energy efficient housing available to homebuyers, but urge policymakers to focus on the balance between housing affordability and high energy performance,” said MHI Executive Vice President Thayer Long. “We believe that manufactured housing can be a leader in driving the market with cost effective, high performance energy efficient housing.”

Policymakers were urged to support the improvement of the Energy Star tax credit for manufacturers building Energy Star homes, provide a framework to help very low-income existing homeowners purchase new high energy performance homes, and remove existing regulatory barriers for adopting better energy standards for manufactured housing.

“Investing in highly energy efficient homes is a priority for the manufactured housing industry,” said Kevin Clayton. “We continue to push the envelope to find ways to deliver the best energy value for our customers. In the long term, this is not only a good thing for the industry, but it is also just the right thing to do.” Clayton also remarked on the limited ability of our customers to be able to buy energy efficient homes. “Adding any additional costs to our income challenged buyers is detrimental to their ability to qualify for a home loan. We need to advance energy efficiency in our homes, but we must also have fair and competitive financing to purchase manufactured homes.”

According to Emanuel Levy, “There is a natural synergy between the efficiency in constructing a factory-built home, and energy efficiency of the home itself. We believe reducing energy use is a practical approach for keeping homes affordable. Getting to the next generation of energy innovation responsibly will require coordinated public-private action.”

Attendees were advised that manufactured housing has accounted for over 20% of all new homes built over the past two decades, accounts for almost 100,000 U.S. jobs, and houses over 18 million Americans.

Factory-built homes have the benefits of being precision built inside a manufacturing plant, with a process that improves consistency and eliminates waste, and a design/build system that facilitates innovation and quality control. These characteristics allow manufacturers to produce high-quality housing much more quickly and cost effectively than homes that are site-built.

The briefing was hosted by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the Congressional High-Performance Buildings Congressional Caucus. George Mongrell, President and CEO of Terradime, LLC also presented.

MHI is the national trade association for manufactured and modular housing industries, representing all segments of the industries before Congress and the Federal government. From its Washington, D.C. area headquarters, MHI actively works to promote fair laws and regulation for all MHI members and the industry. For more information on MHI, visit www.manufacturedhousing.org

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MHCC Decline Continues

January 3rd, 2011 3 comments

MHARR logoThe already diminished role and authority of the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) as an independent check and balance on the power of HUD regulators took another major step backward on January 3, 2011 as HUD, for the first time, has selected the Chairman of the Committee. Until now, the MHCC had elected its own Chairman and Vice Chairman from among its voting members and had forwarded that vote to Secretary of HUD for final action.

The incoming HUD-selected Chairman, an original MHCC member appointed by HUD in 2002 and now serving a ninth year on the Committee, is the only one of seven term-limited MHCC members to be re-appointed for a new term by HUD, without any further explanation.

For your information and convenience, and based upon MHARR’s records, the departing MHCC members are: Susan Brenton (General Interest) (Chairman); William Lagano (General Interest) (Vice Chairman); Doug Gorman (Producer); Jack Berger (User); Karl Braun (User) (resigned) and William Farrish (Producer). MHARR would like to acknowledge the service of these former MHCC members and publicly thank them for their many years of fair, open-minded and thorough consideration of the critical issues brought before the Committee, as well as the right and concerns of all federal program stakeholders.

The new appointees announced by HUD on January 3, 2011, are: (1) William Freeborne, described by HUD only as a “retired engineer,” who will be joining the “General Interest and Public Officials” group, becoming the second former HUD staffer or consultant to be named to the MHCC in recent years; (2) Adam Rust (General Interest and Public Officials), of the “Community Reinvestment Corporation of North Carolina;” (3) Isabel Dickens (User) of the Manufactured Home Owners Association of America, another collective representation group; (4) Steve Anderson (User) described only as a “manufactured home owner” from Utah; (5) Jeffrey Legault (Producer) of Skyline Corporation; and (6) Leo Poggione (Producer) of Craftsman Homes. The one reappointed MHCC member and new Chairman, Richard Weinert, is an official of the California State Administrative Agency (SAA).

In addition to tightening its grip on the MHCC, HUD’s latest appointments to the MHCC continue to exclude collective industry representatives, even though non-industry collective organizations continue to be well represented within other MHCC interest groups. Effectively, the acquiescence of the industry establishment, the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) — which has repeatedly expressed that it does not object to being excluded as a voting MHCC member — has provided HUD with an excuse to refuse the appointment of non-lobbyist collective industry representatives who do want to serve. This ensures that the MHCC does not get the full benefit of the collective knowledge, know-how, expertise and institutional memory that the industry has painstakingly gathered in Washington, D.C. over the course of four decades.

With HUD’s intent regarding the role, status and authority of the MHCC continuing to unfold — i.e., to turn it into another meaningless forum like the defunct National Manufactured Housing Advisory Council of the 1974 law — MHARR now will redouble and intensify its efforts to make this a key issue for engagement with the new congress about to take office in Washington, D.C. In the meantime, MHARR will continue its efforts as a non-member of the MHCC to fight even harder to preserve the proper role, status and authority of the MHCC in accordance with the 2000 law.

cc: Other Interested HUD Code Manufacturers, Retailers and Communities

Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform
1331 Pennsylvania Ave N.W., Suite 508
Washington, D.C. 20004
Phone: 202/783-4087
Fax: 202/783-4075
Email: mharrdg@aol.com

MHI 2010 Scorecard

December 12th, 2010 No comments

MHI logoAt the end of every year, MHI evaluates its legislative and regulatory accomplishments and identifies unresolved issues for the coming year. In government, large, sweeping, decisive achievements are very rare. Change comes in increments, and in 2010, MHI steadily achieved important victories for the industry and our customers.

√ Full Implementation of FHA Title I Loan Program
In 2010 the implementation of changes to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan program for personal property manufactured homes (or Title I), which began back in 2008, was completed. In June 2010 the FHA finalized changes to the program, and also in June 2010 Ginnie Mae lifted its 15-year moratorium and announced it was accepting applications for new Ginnie Mae lenders. In November 2010, Ginnie Mae released its pooling guidelines for loans insured under the new FHA Title I program. The issuance of these guidelines provides Ginnie Mae the ability to securitize manufactured home FHA Title I loans. The securitization of these loans allows lenders to obtain new capital, which can then be used to fund new loans for our customers. Without MHI’s encouragement and assistance, implementation of this important program would most certainly not have happened.

√ Favorably Amending Formaldehyde Legislation
In 2010 Congress enacted a law which requires all composite wood products nationwide to meet new formaldehyde standards. MHI achieved a huge victory for the industry by amending the bill to make the effective date for manufactured and modular homes to comply with the new standard tied to a “manufactured by” provision instead of a “sell through” provision. This is vitally important because the original proposal would have made thousands of new manufactured and modular homes in inventory unsellable once the law became effective. Without MHI’s lobbying, it would have cost the industry and our customers thousands of dollars to bring every home in inventory up to a new standard.

√ Extending the New Home Buyer Tax Credit
MHI joined with other industry groups and successfully extended the new home buyer tax credit for manufactured and modular homes. The extension provided up to an $8000 tax credit to first-time homebuyers who meet certain income tests and sign a sales contact to purchase a principle residence by April 30, 2010. When the extension passed, it required homebuyers to provide a settlement statement as proof of purchase. In manufactured housing “home only” transactions, sales contracts are used as opposed to settlement statements. With the assistance of key Senators, MHI was able to convince the IRS to accept sales contracts in the case of manufactured home purchases.

√ HUD Regulatory Action
The manufactured housing industry is regulated by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). As such, HUD has responsibility to issue proposed rules and building standard updates received from the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) in a timely manner. This year HUD released three proposed changes for the public to comment on. These changes include roof truss testing protocol, rules governing the on-site completion of homes, and updates to the HUD-Code. These changes, which have been sitting around for over five years, are now in the process of being finalized thanks to continued pressure from MHI. An updated HUD-Code is vitally important for the industry and our customers.

In addition, MHI was instrumental in protecting the industry in 2010 from remedial action by regulators regarding materials supplied for the installation of air combustion inlets and venting ductwork through crawlspaces. MHI’s continued dialogue with industry regulators to address these types of issues is a huge part of MHI’s mission.

√ Protection from the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection
A major issue in 2010 was Congress creating a brand new federal agency to regulate the financial services industry and protect consumers. MHI was successful in exempting manufactured and modular housing industry salespersons and retailers from the scope of the new agency if they are: 1) acting as an agent or broker for a buyer or seller of a manufactured home or a modular home, or; 2) facilitating the purchase by a consumer of a manufactured home or modular home, by negotiating the purchase price or terms of the sales contract. MHI’s lobbying obtained this exemption, and we were one of just a few industries that were successful in getting this done.

√ Relief from the SAFE Act
The Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing (SAFE) Act passed by Congress in 2008 was intended to set up a nationwide licensing system for mortgage loan originators or individuals involved in the negotiation of a home loan. It was not intended to require the licensure of individuals, like manufactured and modular home salespersons or realtors, who are simply engaged in the business of selling homes. During the implementation of the SAFE Act, however, many state regulators have expanded the scope of the SAFE Act in order to regulate as many as possible, including retailers conducting purely administrative or clerical tasks in relation to a home loan. In 2010 MHI introduced a bill in Congress which clarifies the licensing requirements of the SAFE Act. MHI’s bill prompted Congressional leadership to send a letter to HUD, telling HUD that the SAFE Act was not intended to apply to retail sellers in our industry. MHI believes these actions will positively influence the outcome of pending regulations both at HUD and the state level.

√ Protecting Consumer Choice in Weather Radios
For the past four years, our customer has been threatened by legislation introduced in Congress unfairly targeting our homes. The legislation would have required every manufactured home sold to have a weather radio, ignoring the consumer’s ability to choose. Weather radios are quickly becoming antiquated, and MHI advocated for the enactment of a new system which already addresses the issue of notifying all individuals in an area of impending natural or man-made disasters. Even though the weather radio bill passed the House of Representatives, it has never been considered in the Senate due to lobbying efforts by MHI. MHI does not expect this issue to be raised in Congress again next year, however, if it reemerges, we will be ready.

√ MHI-PAC Support of Pro-Industry Candidates
MHI has a political action committee (PAC) which contributes to campaigns of pro-manufactured housing Members of Congress. In a difficult election year where over 70 existing members of Congress either retired or were voted out of office, 84 percent of the candidates MHI supported were re-elected. This is a stellar record, and MHI looks forward to working with the new members of Congress next year in advancing the MHI agenda.

The past two years have seen an unprecedented amount of new regulations that have had a widespread impact on every industry. This new focus on regulation has been driven by the belief that the events leading up to the economic crisis might have been prevented had there been more laws in place. Considering this environment, MHI has had much success in preventing many more burdens from being placed on our industry and our customers.

However, much more work lies ahead in 2011. Federal regulators continue to ignore laws passed by Congress requiring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to support personal property lending on manufactured homes. This hurts our customers’ ability to buy and sell their home. The financial reform legislation which passed in 2010 is a 2,000 page bill with widespread impact on all lending and finance activities, including manufactured and modular housing. We need to push for changes to the law and careful implementation of the regulations. There are important tax credits which the industry relies on which have yet to be extended, creating uncertainty for businesses and hampering their ability to adequately plan for the future and pass these benefits onto our customers.

As a membership organization, MHI relies on your membership and support. If your company is not a direct dues paying member of MHI, call us today at (703) 558-0668 to learn more about how to join.

And, now that you’ve seen our scorecard, how do you think we are doing? Please email or call me at (703) 558-0678, or tlong@mfghome.org. All comments and suggestions are appreciated.

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Thayer Long is Executive Vice President of MHI, the preeminent national trade association for manufactured and modular housing industries, representing all segments of the industries before Congress and the Federal government. Call (703) 558-0678 or visit www.manufacturedhousing.org

“Frequently Asked Questions” on HUD Website

August 23rd, 2010 No comments

MHARR logoIn response to numerous inquiries that MHARR has received in recent weeks, industry members should be aware that the HUD manufactured housing program has recently modified the “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) section of its internet website. The FAQ questions and answers now correspond with, repeat and mirror HUD assertions contained in a June 22, 2010 letter to Congress (download copy), which purport to justify and rationalize its failure, over the course of ten years, to fully and properly implement key reform aspects of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000.

In the wake of HUD’s June 22, 2010 letter to Congress, which set out a number of new, revised and altered arguments for continuing efforts by program regulators and attorneys to avoid and neutralize the reforms of the 2000 law, Congress requested MHARR to submit a point-by-point response, which the Association did on July 22, 2010 (copy also attached). This response not only refutes HUD’s core arguments on each issue addressed, but also highlights factual errors and incorrect assumptions underlying various HUD positions – such as those pertaining to the crucial role and authority of the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) – which HUD has systematically downgraded and undermined in recent years.

Because HUD’s June 22, 2010 letter had been directed to Congress, in response to a specific congressional inquiry regarding the implementation of key aspects of the 2000 reform law, MHARR had similarly directed its point-by-point industry response and refutation specifically to Congress. Now, though, that HUD is extensively publicizing the assertions contained in its June 22, 2010 letter – casting those assertions as the supposed final word on the 2000 reform law implementation issues that they address, with no indication that those assertions have been disputed and refuted – industry members and all those with an interest in affordable manufactured housing should be aware that: (1) those assertions and contentions are strongly disputed; (2) that there is an industry response and counter to each of HUD’s assertions; and (3) that HUD Code manufacturers will continue – and will intensify – their efforts to ensure that all such reforms are, in fact, fully and properly implemented, in order to complete the transition of the industry’s homes to legitimate and affordable housing for millions of American families, sharing full parity with all other types of housing.

Therefore, to balance the public record on this matter and to correct any misperceptions that may arise from HUD’s non-acknowledgement of a contrary industry position on each of the issues now addressed in the FAQs, MHARR feels obligated to provide you with a copy of both HUD’s June 22, 2010 letter and the July 22, 2010 industry response to Congress. Please feel free to share the two attached documents with anyone who refers to or raises questions regarding the content of the HUD program website FAQs.

Thank you.

Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform
1331 Pennsylvania Ave N.W., Suite 508
Washington, D.C. 20004
Phone: 202/783-4087
Fax: 202/783-4075
Email: mharrdg@aol.com

Putting the Right Pieces in Place

August 5th, 2010 1 comment

MHARR VIEWPOINT – AUGUST 2010
By Danny D. Ghorbani

MHARR logoThe first step in solving a problem — any problem — is admitting to yourself that there is a problem, that the problem is real and that it exists. The second step, and perhaps the most difficult, is to accurately assess and define the problem, so that one or more potential solutions can be considered, weighed and, ultimately, implemented.

By any objective measure, the HUD Code manufactured housing industry has a problem. Over more than ten years, production and sales have plummeted. From a modern high of more than 373,000 homes in 1998, production in 2009 fell to below 50,000 homes. The trend in the statistics, moreover, has been steadily downward, and appears — over the long-term — to transcend both positive and negative changes in the broader economy and the broader housing market. No amount of happy talk or glad-handing can paper over this fundamental fact — the status quo for the industry and its consumers is unacceptable, and must be changed.

But that is the easy part. The more difficult part is defining the problem as an avenue to arriving at solution(s) that will work. To start, we can identify what is not a problem — and that is our relations, as an industry, with Congress and the lawmakers in Washington, D.C., who pass the laws that govern our comprehensive regulation by HUD and the finance programs and entities that impact the ability of lower and moderate-income Americans to purchase industry products that they can afford without costly subsidies.

The track record of the industry and its representation in Washington, D.C. within this realm is quite good, and the reason is very simple — manufactured housing and the manufactured housing industry are favored by legislators in Congress. And for good reason. The industry provides jobs that will stay here in America, without outsourcing. The jobs that the industry provides are well-paying manufacturing jobs, typically located in the heartland of the country, where the success or failure of the broader economy is largely determined. The industry, moreover, produces homes that provide affordable home-ownership for American families at all income levels without tax-funded subsidies. The industry, therefore, provides a vital resource — affordable home-ownership — without asking for tax dollars, only parity with other types of housing in various government housing programs, such as FHA programs.

So, Congress has been good to the industry. In 2000, it passed the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act, to take manufactured housing into the 21st century and complete its legal and policy transition to the legitimate housing. In 2008, aware of the trouble that consumers were having with financing, Congress included two critical manufactured housing provisions in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) — the “duty to serve underserved markets,” designed to expand and improve private financing and end discrimination against manufactured housing by the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs), and FHA Title I and Title II improvements, designed to expand and improve public financing for manufactured homes financed as chattel, real estate and as part of land-home packages.

These are all good laws, designed to promote the availability and use of affordable manufactured homes. These laws should have fostered an industry boom in the solid national economy of the years following 2000 — with an industry expansion involving hundreds of thousands of homes — and should be helping to foster an industry revival now, in a post-recession economy. At least that was the hope — and the theory. But, things have gone wrong, and therein lies the problem.

The problem is that none of these good laws are being implemented in the way that Congress wanted, and expected. The 2000 reform law has been gutted by HUD regulators and attorneys. There is no — and has been — no appointed program Administrator for most of the past ten years. Enhanced preemption has never been implemented. The MHCC — the real centerpiece of the 2000 law — is being turned into another rubber-stamp “advisory council.” Its proceedings have been taken over by program regulators and a large chunk of its authority was taken away when HUD — without any public comment — read catchall section 604(b)(6) out of the law, which required HUD to bring enforcement policy and practice changes to the Committee.

HERA-based FHA Title I improvements have fared no better. Inexplicably delayed for years, those improvements are now finally being implemented, but their impact appears likely to be minimized by recently announced Ginnie Mae requirements for the securitization of new Title I loans ($10 million minimum adjusted net worth plus 10% of outstanding manufactured housing mortgage-backed securities) that will severely restrict access to the program by the new lenders that will be needed to appreciably increase the availability and number of manufactured housing loans for consumers.

Similarly, the proposed rule to implement DTS published on June 7, 2010, represents a major disconnect with the intent and objectives of Congress that, if implemented, will predictably fall well short in helping to end the discrimination against manufactured homes by the GSEs, that lies at the root of the current near-unavailability of manufactured home financing.

Despite good relations with Congress, then, and good laws passed for the benefit of the industry and its consumers, the results have not matched expectations. The implementation of each of these laws, by relevant federal agencies, has not come even close to what Congress wanted. And in certain respects, these agencies are openly defying clear congressional directives.

The pattern, therefore, is clear. Congress tries to help the industry and, then … nothing — or close to nothing or, sometimes, worse than nothing. For an industry that is comprehensively regulated by the federal government and, thus, thrives or declines based on decisions made in Washington, D.C., this is — and has been — a prescription for trouble. As an industry, we have an obligation, to ourselves and to our consumers, to question — to ask why this is happening, and how it can be fixed before much of the industry falls by the wayside, leaving only a handful of survivors. MHARR is asked constantly why the industry is so impotent in Washington, D.C. in the face of continual resistance by regulators and other administrative types to the proper implementation of the good laws that Congress provides us. MHARR , in response, has studied this issue, going back over the history of the industry’s presence and involvement in Washington, D.C., dating back to the start of federal regulation, to find workable solutions, and will share its findings and suggestions in the September 2010 MHARR Viewpoint.

In MHARR’s view, the industry’s inability to implement critical laws despite strong Congressional support lies at the core of the industry’s difficulties, and needs to be addressed decisively.

MHARR is a Washington D.C.-based national trade association representing the views and interests of federally-regulated manufactured housing.

MHARR Comments on Proposed On-Site Rule

July 29th, 2010 1 comment

MHARR logoAttached, for your information, review and use, are MHARR’s comprehensive comments in response to the proposed rule on “On-Site Completion of Construction of Manufactured Homes” published by HUD on June 23, 2010. MHARR, as with its comments on proposed rules concerning the “Duty to Serve Underserved Markets” and “Test Procedures for Roof Trusses”, has prepared and filed these comments at an early stage in the rulemaking process so that they are available as a model, basis, or support, as needed, for individual comments filed by industry members. Comments in response to the proposed rule must be filed no later than August 23, 2010. A copy of the proposed rule can be downloaded for your convenience.

As the attached comments indicate, MHARR supports the proposed rule, but with significant conditions attached, that involve key clarifications and modifications of the rule as proposed. Simply put, on-site completion under this rule could either be extremely beneficial for the industry and its consumers, or could backfire on both. If properly finalized and implemented by HUD, with the clarifications and modifications identified by MHARR, a timely, cost-effective on-site completion process could expand existing markets for the industry and open new ones. Conversely, if the industry does not provide HUD with the input that it needs to develop such a proper final rule, and the final published rule does not contain the necessary clarifications and modifications, the on-site process could actually do more harm than good, leaving the industry and consumers with no choice but to oppose the final rule.

Consequently, it is important that industry members review and familiarize themselves both with the proposed rule and with MHARR’s comprehensive comments and submit their own individual comments accordingly.

MHARR extends its thanks and gratitude to the industry members and, particularly, the manufacturer regulatory, legal and technical executives, and retailers, who were instrumental in analyzing the proposed HUD rule and assisting MHARR in the development of its attached comments.

MHARR will continue to keep you apprised as this rulemaking process advances.

Download – MHARR Comments on Proposed On-Site Rule

Danny D. Ghorbani, President
Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform
1331 Pennsylvania Ave N.W., Suite 508
Washington, D.C. 20004
Phone: 202/783-4087
Fax: 202/783-4075
Email: mharrdg@aol.com

The Chairman’s View – Great Southwest Home Show in Tulsa

May 28th, 2010 No comments

Quick Trip Center with the "Golden  Driller" the largest free standing statue in the world.
Quick Trip Center with the "Golden Driller"
the largest free standing statue in the world.

The Great Southwest Home Show concluded its second year and had the added feature of a Public Days segment to bolster its viability. Due to time restrictions on the availability of the facility, Public Days were held on Friday evening and all day Saturday after the conclusion of Retailer Days on Friday afternoon. Over 1500 people attended Public Days and the retailers showing homes expressed high levels of satisfaction with both the public’s reception to the display and the actual sales results that occurred during the public display period.


The Great Southwest Home Show had two other events associated with it. One event was the state convention for the Manufactured Housing Association of Oklahoma (MHAO). MHAO conducted the convention in tandem with the show in an effort to assist manufacturing participants in streamlining expenses. Instead of a trip to Oklahoma for a show in the Spring and a return trip for a convention in August, a single trip sufficed. The convention attendance was much higher than had been experienced for about a decade and plans are to keep the events linked in the future.

Manufacturers enjoy the benefits of an indoor facility.
Manufacturers enjoy the benefits of an indoor facility.

The second event held in association with the Great Southwest Home Show was the face-to-face meeting held at least annually by the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) along with assigned staff members from HUD’s offices in Washington, DC. I had originally proposed this associated meeting over a year ago when the first Great Southwest Home Show was held. Bill Matchneer from HUD did attend that show and was sufficiently impressed to bring about the associated meeting for the second year of the show. The meeting participants were allowed special access to the display homes on Wednesday afternoon prior to the official opening of the show on Thursday. Both HUD officials and committee members were greatly impressed by the quality and affordability of the thirty plus homes on display at Tulsa’s Quick Trip Center. Some of the meeting participants had never been in a manufactured home prior to those they toured at the Great Southwest Home Show. Hopefully HUD will see the benefit of at least periodically holding the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee in association with the Great Southwest Home Show.

Supplier booths are conveniently set up in the middle of the  display homes.
Supplier booths are conveniently set up in the middle of the display homes.

While Bill Matchneer had been the driving force behind getting the MHCC to Tulsa for the show, his replacement Teresa Payne did not skip a beat as she led the HUD delegation and the MHCC to the event. HUD staff and the MHCC members attended the MHAO convention dinner on Wednesday evening and Teresa Payne wowed the crowd with her opening line (“Manufactured Housing rocks!”) as the keynote speaker at the convention dinner. The dinner marked the first time in its almost 10 year history that the MHCC committee had actually attended an industry event and got a chance to converse with a broad spectrum of industry members.

Teresa Payne highlighting the HUD Code label

Teresa Payne highlighting the HUD Code label

The Quick Trip Center in Tulsa is an ideal facility for hosting such an event as the Great Southwest Home Show. The Quick Trip Center is largest open span structure in the United States with 10.5 acres that is indoors and air conditioned. With in-floor electricity to each display location, generators are not needed. Manufacturers can set up, conduct the show days, and tear down and not have to worry about whether or not rain storms are headed their way. While dealer traffic was lower than expected on Friday overall manufacturer’s response was positive with several reporting that they planned to increase the size of their display next year.

'Dualing remotes' being set up by two radio stations for public  days.

‘Dualing remotes’ being set up by two radio stations for public days.

Educational seminars were also included in the show agenda at no charge for the attendees. Speakers were John Delves and Kurt Kelly. John Delves taught three sessions that focused on selling skills and performing well in a down economy. Kurt Kelly addressed 24/7 communication with clients. All seminars were well attended and both speakers received great reviews. The seminars are conducted on the day before the show opens in the same format that I enjoyed some thirty years ago when I would go to the Louisville Show. We plan to continue to offer the educational seminars which also serve as Continuing Education credits.

Aisle shot at the QT Center

Aisle shot at the QT Center

Retailers that stayed over to work on Public Days paid extra for that opportunity in order to cover the promotional expenses for the time period. As mentioned previously, the retailer response was overwhelmingly positive. The Great Southwest Home Show has a unique ability to conduct the Public Days since unlike other shows in the nation, the Great Southwest Home Show is conducted in a secure indoor facility and in is located in a large city from which to draw the attendance. We look forward to growing the show and conducting it for many years in the future. Special recognition and thanks need to be given to both Deanna Fields, the Executive Director of MHAO and Dennis Hill from Show Ways Unlimited. Both worked tirelessly on the event and were crucial to its success.

Doug Gorman
Show Chairman
The Great Southwest Home Show

For more information and photos, see Suzanne Felber’s report and Tony Kovach’s photo report.

Bill Matchneer Transferred From HUD Program

March 30th, 2010 1 comment

As you probably have already heard by now, Mr. Bill Matchneer, the Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regulatory Affairs and Manufactured Housing, is being transferred from his position in charge of the federal manufactured housing program to another position in HUD’s Office of General Counsel. Reportedly, the transfer will become effective in two weeks.

MHARR would like to wish Mr. Matchneer all the best in his future endeavors.

With this action, however, HUD now has an unparalleled opportunity to put the federal manufactured housing program back on the right track — by complying with the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 and appointing a non-career manufactured housing program Administrator, as provided by that law and as intended by Congress.

We will keep you apprised of new developments regarding this matter as they unfold.

cc: Other Interested Industry Members

Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform
1331 Pennsylvania Ave N.W., Suite 508
Washington, D.C. 20004
Phone: 202/783-4087
Fax: 202/783-4075
Email: mharrdg@aol.com

MHARR Letter to HUD – Federal Housing Administration-Insurance for Manufactured Housing

March 29th, 2010 No comments

Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform
1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 508
Washington, DC 20004
202-783-4087
Fax 202-783-4075

March 5,2010

VIA ELECTRONIC FILING

Regulations Division
Office of General Counsel
Department of Housing and Urban Development
45 1 Seventh Street, S.W.
Room 10276
Washington, D.C. 2041 0-0001

    Re: Docket Number FR-5075-N-02
    Federal Housing Administration-Insurance for Manufactured Housing
    Re-Opening of Public Comment Period

Dear Sir or Madam:

The following comments are submitted on behalf of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR). MHARR is a national trade association representing the views and interests of producers of manufactured housing regulated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) pursuant to the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 5401, et seq. (Act).

I. INTRODUCTION

On September 15, 2008, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Housing – Federal Housing Commissioner published a proposed rule to amend HUD’s regulations governing manufactured homes that secure Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Title I loans and Title II insured mortgages. Under the proposed rule, portions of the current regulations, 24 C.F.R. 201.21 and 24 C.F.R. 203-43f, which require such homes to be installed in compliance with HUD’s “Permanent Foundation Guide for Manufactured Housing” (HUD Handbook 4930.3G), HUD’s “Minimum Property Standards for One and Two-Family Dwellings” and other related criteria, would be deleted and replaced with new sections that would allow FHA to insure most HUD Code manufactured homes installed in a manner that meets or exceeds the requirements set forth in the federal Model Installation Standard (MIS) adopted by HUD on October 19,2007 pursuant to the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (2000 reform law).

MHARR submitted comments (incorporated herein by reference) generally supporting this proposed rule — subject to concerns related to the non-preemptive status of the federal Model Installation Standard and corresponding federal installation program – on October 17, 2008. MHARR generally supported the proposed rule because, as HUD correctly notes, the “acceptance of mortgages on manufactured homes installed in accordance with the Model Installation Standards would provide for greater flexibility of design, thereby permitting additional options for affordable housing.”See,75 Federal Register, No. 23, February 4,2010, at 5706).

Subsequently, on February 4,2010, HUD re-opened comments on the September 15, 2008 proposed rule, because implementation of the federal manufactured home installation program (adopted by final rule dated June 20, 2008), including HUD certification of complying state-law manufactured home installation programs and provisions for HUD enforcement of the federal installation standards in states without state-law installation programs has been delayed. As stated by HUD in its February 4, 2010 Federal Register notice regarding re-opening of the comment period for the proposed rule:

    “… there have been some delays in submissions of state certifications, in HUDts review and acceptance of state certifications and in the implementation of HUD’s program for states in which HUD will administer the installation program. As a result, there are several states in which there is not yet either a state-certified and fully-accepted installation program or an operational HUD-administered installation program.”

(Id. at 5706-5707).

Because of this delay, HUD now seeks comment on whether it should: (1) promulgate a final rule based on the September 15, 2008 proposed rule, applicable in a given state only at such time that the state has either an operational state-certified and fully accepted installation program, or operational HUD-administered program, or (2) “delay promulgation of a final rule based on the September 15,2008 proposed rule until all states and territories have an operational state-certified and fully accepted installation program or a HUD-administered program.”

II. COMMENTS

MHARR opposes any further needless delay in the implementation of the proposed rule and, therefore, supports the first option proposed by HUD — the promulgation of a final rule based upon the September 15,2008 proposed rule that would become applicable in each state when the state has either an operational state-certified and fully-accepted state-law installation program, or an operational HUD-administered installation program.

The 2000 reform law, as one of the centerpiece reforms of the HUD manufactured housing program, directed HUD to adopt and implement federal installation standards and a corresponding federal installation program, by 2005, in each state that had not yet implemented state-law installation standards and a state installation enforcement program. Today, some ten years after the adoption of the 2000 reform law and five years after the deadline established by Congress for the full implementation of the fallback federal installation program in default states (i.e., states without a state-law installation program), that program, by HUD’s own acknowledgement, is still not fully operational. As a result, installation oversight, that would benefit consumers and help expand the availability of consumer financing (by enhancing the value of manufactured homes), is still absent in many areas. This delay, in turn, has become an obstacle to the full implementation of the September 15, 2008 proposed rule that would similarly benefit consumers by expanding their affordable housing options and the availability of muchneeded FHA financing.

Very simply, there is no excuse for this long — and continuing — delay in the full implementation of the federal installation program, a reform deemed so vital by Congress that it alone is subject to a specific statutory deadline set forth in the 2000 reform law. The full implementation of the federal installation program, however, like many other manufactured housing program reforms mandated by the 2000 law (as previously documented by MHARR), has fallen victim to continuing mismanagement of the HUD program — in the absence of the non-career manufactured housing program Administrator provided by the 2000 law — that has skewed program priorities and returned the program to the controversial, non-consensus practices that the 2000 reform law sought to change. For example, while the full implementation of the federal installation program has been delayed for years, HUD program regulators, for the past three years, have devoted limited program resources to the establishment of a “shadow” in-plant inspection system and procedure, wholly outside of existing regulations and without the consensus procedures required by the 2000 reform law.

In the interim, as the HUD program has resisted the reforms of the 2000 reform law, production and sales of manufactured homes have declined by nearly 90%, to their lowest level ever, representing a catastrophic loss of affordable housing opportunities for lower and moderate-income American families, as well as the loss of thousands of manufactured housing industry and related jobs across the United States.

As a result, it is essential that HUD reverse the deterioration of the manufactured housing program and move forward, as rapidly as possible, to fully implement all of the 2000 law reforms, including the fallback federal installation program and final certification of compliant state-law programs.

Consistent with this and for all the foregoing reasons, HUD should adopt, as soon as possible, a final rule based on the September 15, 2008 proposed rule that would become effective on a state-by-state basis upon certification of a compliant state-law program or the implementation of an operational HUD-administered program in accordance with option one as set forth in HUD’s February 4, 2010 Federal Register notice.

Sincerely,
Mark Weiss
Senior Vice President
Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform
1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, N. W.
Suite 508
Washington, D.C. 20004
(202) 783-4087 (Office)
(703) 509-9489 (Direct)
(202) 783-4075 (Fax)
mmarkweiss@aol.com (Email)
cc: Mr. Danny Ghorbani, MHARR

Further Evidence of HUD Program Mismanagement

March 23rd, 2010 2 comments

Below is a must-read communication between the Oregon IPIA/SAA and the career manager of the HUD manufactured housing program. This communication is yet more compelling evidence that the HUD manufactured housing program, lacking the leadership and policy direction of an appointed non-career Administrator, is being mismanaged in ways that are damaging to the industry and its consumers, and that continue to blunt the industry’s economic recovery.

Nominally a response to an inquiry from the program regarding the qualifications of IPIA inspectors, the communication, from the retiring head of a state program that has a national reputation of providing effective consumer protection while being fair to the industry, states that in-plant production — and production quality — is not a problem for the industry and is not a cause of the current long-standing industry downturn. This is consistent with MHARR’s constant message to HUD officials and program regulators that the industry is currently building its best homes and that efforts underway by HUD to promote a costly de facto expansion of in-plant inspection procedures are completely unwarranted and a waste of program resources that are badly needed elsewhere. More importantly, it directly contradicts the assumption within HUD, stated in a January 11, 2010 letter to Rep. Travis Childers from HUD’s General Counsel (and elsewhere), that costly, enhanced production oversight “will assist the industry by attracting lenders back to manufactured housing.”

The communication emphases, instead, that most consumer issues relate to “how the home is sold, how it is set, and how it is serviced.” Two of these three — installation and dispute resolution — have already been addressed by Congress in the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000. But an operational federal installation program, along with a dozen or so other major reform provisions of the 2000 law, still have not been fully and properly by HUD, some ten years after enactment of the 2000 reform law. This has contributed significantly to the decline of the industry by negatively impacting the production, financing, placement and acceptance of manufactured homes. And while HUD officials claim that such delays are attributable to budgetary constraints, they do not explain how “budgetary” constraints have failed to slow the imposition of HUD’s costly and unnecessary expanded in-plant procedures, involving significant expenditures of time by its entrenched monitoring contractor.

To make matters worse, when the federal installation program is fully implemented, it will still not be as Congress intended, because it will not be preemptive based on HUD’s re-codification of the federal installation standards (and dispute resolution). It is little wonder, then, that as this communication states, zoning and planning restrictions have contributed to the industry’s decline and continue to blunt its economic recovery, while part of the industry in Washington, D.C. maintains that going along with HUD benefits the industry.

In this regard, it is worth noting that the needless expansion of in-plant inspection procedures that has been HUD’s single-minded focus for the past two years, to the detriment of full and proper implementation of the federal installation program and other 2000 Act reforms is, according to the HUD Assistant Secretary for Housing-Federal Housing Commissioner, endorsed by part of the industry in Washington, D.C., which, he says, has been “very supportive” of HUD’s efforts. This same group, according to Department, continues to “collaborate” with HUD on various issues, instead of holding it accountable to fully and properly implement existing finance and production laws, even as industry production has fallen to historic lows.

This effort to impose a de facto expansion of the enforcement regulations is one of the main topics that will be addressed in greater detail at the MHARR Board of Directors meeting in Tunica.

Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform
1331 Pennsylvania Ave N.W., Suite 508
Washington, D.C. 20004
Phone: 202/783-4087
Fax: 202/783-4075
Email: mharrdg@aol.com