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McCrory Lawsuit – “Significant Victory Against Zoning Discrimination” – Manufactured Homes

November 30th, 2017 No comments

The McCrory lawsuit is a significant victory against zoning discrimination that many working families in Arkansas face from cities and towns when they attempt to place a factory-built dwelling unit in a territorial jurisdiction governed by municipal ordinances and regulations.

Although federal regulation preempts cities from out-and-out discrimination against units built in compliance with the Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards – the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been hesitant to enforce the ‘enhanced preemption’ granted in the MHIA of 2000 – –  or even the Department’s own ‘preemption policy’ or statement of ‘internal guidance’ on local zoning matters.

And, even though state law in Arkansas prohibits cities from totally banning manufactured/modular home placements; restricting them only to rented lots in ‘parks’; or setting conditions/restrictions that are dissimilar to those for ‘site-built units’ – a number of cities still attempt to unduly restrict MH placements due to unsubstantiated fears of plummeting property values and ‘undesirables’ that their decisions-makers fear will inhabit such domiciles.

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We hope this decision will cause city leaders to consider other, non-arbitrary factors when making decisions about home placement within their towns.

When our organization is allowed to provide advice to cities on how to address the placement of factory-built units within their boundaries – we always caution against arbitrary restrictions (i.e. home value, age, etc.) that would determine if a home would be allowed.

Several tiny cities around McCrory had enacted similar restrictions, and have made changes to their ordinances in response to this lawsuit.

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The McCrory settlement was obtained by  Equal Justice Under Law,  a civil rights organization. The case will be the subject of a Daily Business News report. The headline and these graphics were provided by MHProNews, as is customary in trade media and other forms of journalism. The text comments were sent by JD Harper to MHProNews for publication. Other perspectives, comments, and news tips are welcomed. Send to iReportMHNewsTips@mhmsm.com with a bold subject line that says NEWS TIP or LETTER TO EDITOR, thank you.

If decision-makers in cities [particularly smaller towns] would take a look at today’s manufactured housing – instead of relying on outdated images, preconceived notions, and the myths, misconceptions and stereotypes that seem to be inextricably linked to this product – I believe they would find it relatively simple to develop ordinances and regulations that would allow the regulated placement of factory-built structures on individual lots and in multi-site developments in a manner that would encourage affordable housing growth.

The McCrory settlement is just another arrow in the quiver to use when city leaders attempt to discriminate against people who might not make as much money as the members of the planning commission or city council – or at least don’t want to spend more for a site-built home. ##

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By JD Harper
AMHA

Harper – Thank You Rev Donald Tye, Fighting for Enhanced Preemption of Manufactured Homes

July 28th, 2017 No comments

Tony,
I’ve been meaning to take a moment for a couple of weeks now, to send you this message. I apologize for mixing subjects, but – in the end – I believe you’ll find that all these topics relate to one another.

1)    Thank you for your direct question to HUD’s Pam Danner about the City of Kilgore’s plans to further limit the placement of manufactured homes in that city.  I’ve repeatedly questioned why HUD and the administrator’s Office of Manufactured Housing Programs hasn’t acknowledged that preemption was significantly enhanced by the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA of 2000).

2)   Several of Rev. Donald Tye, Jr.’s comments which you published brought back memories of an MHI Land Use Conference held in Chicago in the late 90’s.  I remember a speaker at that event – a middle-aged black gentleman, who was (I believe) a member of the Illinois General Assembly.  He coined a term for the discrimination by local governments against many forms of affordable housing, particularly manufactured home placements.

That speaker called it “economic racism.”

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Collage credit, MHProNews.com – this and the headline are provided by the publisher, as is customary with Op-Eds. The statements are those of the writer.

I’ve thought about the power in that statement many times since that meeting, knowing that he had lived-through the Civil Rights movement.

I’ve spent countless evenings in municipal buildings made of cinder-blocks with bad fluorescent lighting. I’d attend meetings, ‘waging a seemingly-endless war on ignorance’ about our affordable homes (and the people who live in our product) with local decision-makers over the past quarter-century.

So, I appreciate and agree with Rev. Tye’s powerful comments.

3)    In conclusion, I believe many in our society view manufactured housing as some sort of ‘housing of last resort’ for:

  • poor people,
  • illegal immigrants,
  • rednecks,
  • divorcees on public assistance and
  • other undesirable elements of the population.

It’s a stereotype/stigma perpetuated by the media which creates and/or re-enforces barriers to the acceptance, and highest use, of manufactured homes as an affordable housing resource.

I remember a small-town mayor telling me – ‘off the record’ of course – his perspective on inclusionary zoning in his city: “It ain’t the houses, son… It’s the people that live in them.” ##  (Publisher’s note: see the graphic, and link below on Rev. Donald Tye Jr.)

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J.D. Harper
Executive Director
Arkansas Manufactured Housing Association (AMHA)
1123 South University – Suite #720
Little Rock, AR 72204

 

 

 

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Click the image above to see one of the articles and topics that these quotes from Tye come from.

 

 

JD Harper – Manufactured Housing Assoc Exec Director – Sounds Off on Zoning & HUD Failure to Enforce Preemption

December 7th, 2016 No comments

Tony, thanks for the opportunity to comment on the actions of the City of Stuttgart relating to the placement of manufactured/modular homes within the city’s boundaries.

This action by the city – like most others we encounter – is a reaction to the response of residents to a factory-built home being placed in a residential zone.

City officials look at the placement of the home as a mistake – something that should be remedied and not allowed to happen again – rather than as the right of a resident to exercise his/her housing choice on land that is zoned for single-family housing.

With 500 cities and incorporated towns in Arkansas – it is increasingly difficult for a one-person staff to keep up with all of the ordinances and regulations being enforced by local governments.

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While Arkansas does have a law that prohibits cities from banning manufactured homes or restricting their placement to only leased-land in parks or communities – most cities view factory-built structures through the same prism as billboards, cell towers and sexually-oriented businesses… something to be avoided if at all possible, but restricted and heavily regulated if allowed at all.

It has been our organization’s policy over the past two decades to offer assistance to cities as they address manufactured/modular housing placement within their boundaries – and not to ‘pick fights’ with cities to force factory-built homes into areas where they would not be compatible with surrounding structures or have values consistent with other forms of housing.

I’ve told many city officials that I don’t believe that manufactured homes belong on every lot in every zone in every town – but I DO believe there are MANY lots in MANY towns which restrict manufactured homes where a factory-built residence would provide access to decent, affordable housing for working Arkansans — without having an adverse impact on surrounding property values or the quality of life in that neighborhood.

The larger question is why the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has failed to embrace its duty to encourage inclusive zoning and acceptance of a Federally-regulated housing product.

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Image credit, MHProNews.

Recent efforts to urge HUD regulators to update outdated and obsolete guidance and policy relating to the preemptive nature of the HUD program – even after the 2000 Act which ‘strengthened preemption’ – calling for preemption to be ‘broadly and liberally construed – have fallen upon deaf ears within the Department. [See attached letter to HUD officials].

Thanks for allowing me to vent. ##

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Photo credit: LinkedIn.

JD Harper
Executive Director
Arkansas Manufactured Housing Association
1123 South University – Suite #720
Little Rock, AR 72204

(Editor’s Note: This is a widespread issue that Harper is addressing in this Op-Ed. He is spot on with his statement that HUD has routinely failed to enforce the enhanced preemption under the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA 2000). See a related article, linked here. MHIA 2000 download, linked here.)