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Posts Tagged ‘Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform’

About the 41st Anniversary of the Start of Manufactured Housing

June 15th, 2017 No comments

MMarkWeissCEO-MHARR-ManufacturedHousingAssociationforRegulatoryReform-posted-IndustryVoices-MHProNewsThe establishment of the HUD Code was — and is — an important milestone for both the industry and consumers.  The industry itself sought out federal regulation under a preemptive, performance-based, uniform code of federal standards that balances the key factors of safety and cost, along with uniform enforcement within a federal-state partnership.

This type of federal regulation — so long as it is reasonable — allows the industry to pass-along the efficiencies of factory-construction to home buyers, in the form of unparalleled affordability and quality.

By every objective measure available, today’s manufactured homes have achieved the level of quality, durability, and safety that Congress envisioned when it passed the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974.

Now, it is time for HUD to take real measures to support and expand the availability and acceptance of those HUD Code homes as Congress directed in the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000.  To do that, however, will require a major shake-up of the HUD program by the Trump Administration.

Mark Weiss
President & CEO
Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR)
1331 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Suite 512
Washington, D.C. 20004
Phone: 202/783-4087
Fax: 202/783-4075
Email: MHARRDG@AOL.COM

“Absolute Disgrace!” MH Industry Association Leader Reacts to Keith Olbermann’s “Trailer Park Trash” Tweet, Reported on The Hill

April 24th, 2017 No comments

It’s an absolute disgrace that this pejorative somehow remains ‘socially acceptable’ among the politically correct elite and their mouthpieces.

People like Olbermann, who routinely slam others over alleged “micro-aggressions” and other fabricated nonsense, would do well to show proper and decent respect for the millions of hard-working Americans who are able to own a home of their own because of the unequalled affordability of manufactured homes located either in — or outside of — manufactured home communities.

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The headline and this graphic are produced and provided by MHProNews, a common practice among some in media to illustrate opinion or ‘letters to the editor’ columns.

They, and a lot of other Americans living in the heartland of the country, deserve better than this type of arrogant slander. ##

MMarkWeissCEO-MHARR-ManufacturedHousingAssociationforRegulatoryReform-posted-IndustryVoices-MHProNewsMark Weiss
President & CEO
Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR)
1331 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Suite 512
Washington, D.C. 20004
Phone: 202/783-4087
Fax: 202/783-4075
Email: MHARRDG@AOL.COM

(Editor’s Note 1: Weiss’ comments are made with respect to a tweet by Keith Olbermann, published in an article on Washington, D.C.’s ‘The Hill,” see link here, or at the top, above.

Note 2: MHProNews contacted several top people at the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), as well as their media contact, to give them an opportunity to share a comment or respond. As of this time, As of this time, more than 48 hours later, they have not done so.)

Award-Winning MHI Retailer Regarding HUD Objectives, Pam Danner, Needed Changes

March 8th, 2017 No comments

I can’t improve on what Mark Weiss [MHARR President and CEO] has indicated below:

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Graphic above and the headline were provided by MHProNews, as is customary in publishing. The words in [brackets] were added for clarity, and the text submitted for publication is by the author, Doug Gorman. 

“While MHARR does not claim to speak for the entire industry, we have made it clear that after years of abuse by federal regulators acting contrary to the law and empowering entrenched revenue-driven contractors to target the industry, the new era of regulatory deconstruction being ushered-in by the Trump Administration offers a profound opportunity that must not be missed or squandered.  And while other segments of the industry – following their recent meeting – have not given any public indication of a change in course, direction or approach based on this new reality, MHARR has been on top of this critical matter since the November election, and has already put in place fundamental priorities and policies that I am happy to share with you and the rest of the industry as shown below:

  1. Elevate and include manufactured housing in all HUD (and other federal) housing and housing finance programs on the same terms as other types of housing;
  1. Immediately re-assign the current career HUD manufactured housing program administrator and appoint an appropriately-qualified non-career administrator in accordance with the 2000 reform law who would fully and properly implement that law and any and all regulatory policies and orders put in place by President Trump;
  1. Immediately prepare and issue a new Request for Proposals (RFP) for the HUD program monitoring contract which would provide for, encourage, and ensure full and fair competition for that position, eliminate all “make-work” programs and functions contained in the current contract consistent with Trump Administration regulatory policies and orders, and terminate the existing monitoring contract upon the identification and selection of a new contractor;
  1. Seek the immediate withdrawal of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) proposed manufactured housing energy rule pursuant to executive action by either the incoming DOE Secretary, the President, or other appropriate authority and, if necessary, seek a congressional resolution pursuant to the Congressional Review Act to reject any such rule if or when finalized; and
  1. Demand and ensure securitization and secondary market support for manufactured home chattel loans in a significant and timely manner by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, so that consumers are not needlessly either excluded from the housing market or unnecessarily forced into higher-cost loans within a less-than-fully-competitive consumer financing market.” ##

Addendum on 1:40 PM 3.10.2017, by Doug Gorman:

I would clarify that Mark Weiss’s language re Pam Danner was that she be reassigned. The original structure of the 21 member Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee  (MHCC) was to have a nonvoting 22nd member. That position was to be a non-career political appointee who would change most likely with each administration. That was the position that Bill Matchneer filled originally as a political appointee reporting to Gary Cunningham at one point. When Gary Cunningham left HUD Bill was promoted to Gary’s career position and the non-career position has never been filled since. Mark’s point was that HUD should structure the manufactured housing program as intended by the 2000 statute. ###

DougGormanHomeMartTulsaOKCreditManufacturedHousingIndustryVoicesCommentaryMHProNews125x125Industry Voices post submitted by Doug Gorman, Home-Mart, Tulsa, OK.  Other guest comments on this or other topics of general industry interest are encouraged and welcome.

 

 

 

(Editor’s Note 1:  Doug Gorman has won several MHI awards as a retailer, and was volunteered hundreds of hours on national issues, served on the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC), etc. Gorman is one of a few individuals who was asked by MHProNews for his thoughts on the needs to replace Pam Danner at HUD, and what MHI’s position on this issue ought to be.  The above was sent by Gorman in response to that inquiry, and was sent for publication.

Editor’s Note 2: There are several Industry Voices posts pending publication, we hope to get caught up in the next week or so.  Please continue to send your thoughts and comments – on or off the record – and be clear what is and is not for attributed publication.  Thank you for your patience.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

FHFA, GSEs and the Duty To Serve Manufactured Housing – Mark Weiss, JD – Viewpoint

December 14th, 2016 No comments

Chattel lending is crucial to the availability of affordable manufactured housing for American families, representing as much as 80% of consumer loans for the purchase of new manufactured homes.

Knowing this, Congress specifically included manufactured home chattel loans in the “Duty to Serve” provision of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.

The total exclusion — thus far — of those loans from two proposed DTS implementation rules is, therefore, incomprehensible and has never been explained or justified in any credible way by either the GSEs or the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

TenYearDelayDutyToServeGSEsManufacturedHousingMMarkWeissManufacturedHousingAssociationForRegulatoryReformIndustryVoicesMHProNews-

The headline and graphics on this page are provided by MHProNews, and not the writer. Other viewpoints on this or other manufactured housing related topics are welcome. Image credit, MHProNews.

The nearly ten year delay in properly implementing this simple and straightforward congressional directive has harmed both consumers – who have been left hanging with no remedy — and the industry, which continues to suffer from unnaturally low production levels due to discrimination by the GSEs.

While a mandatory pilot program including chattel loans – combined with a specific commitment to transition to a full “going basis” securitization model within a short and finite timeframe — would potentially be a step forward, a chattel “pilot program” in itself would not fulfill the mandate of DTS. ##

M-MarkWeiss-MHARRPresident-ManufacturedHousingAssociationRegulatoryReform-posted-MHProNews-com-75x75-Mark Weiss, JD
President & CEO
Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR)
1331 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Suite 512
Washington, D.C. 20004

Discrimination, Zoning and Disparate Impact on Manufactured Homes, Owners, Prospects

August 25th, 2016 No comments

The discriminatory exclusion of manufactured homes by local governments is a major problem for the industry and consumers.  It artificially stunts industry growth, while it unfairly deprives Americans of access to the nation’s most affordable housing — effectively excluding lower and moderate-income citizens from entire communities.

While this phenomenon is dressed-up as “zoning” by those on the other side of the issue — in part because the federal government has historically been reluctant to interfere in local “zoning” matters — we need to be clear about what is actually going on, in the language we use to refer to it, and how we address it.

The reality — in many, if not most cases — is that “zoning” is simply a fig leaf for what amounts to discrimination; discrimination against our homes to be sure, but, more importantly, discrimination against the people who buy them, own them and live in them.

MMarkWeissJDMHARRCEOPresident-ManufacturedHousingAssociationRegulatoryReform

As MHARR has stressed before, there have never been more tools available to the industry and consumers to address this issue at — and beyond — HUD.  These include not only the enhanced preemption of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000, but HUD’s new rules on affirmatively furthering fair housing and the recent Supreme Court decision allowing discrimination claims to be pursued based on evidence of “disparate impact.”  ##

(Editor’s note: This was the first for publication commentary sent in the wake of the Daily Business News report on a discriminatory zoning case, linked here. Two more Op-Eds on zoning are linked here and here.)

MMarkWeissCEO-MHARR-ManufacturedHousingAssociationforRegulatoryReform-posted-IndustryVoices-MHProNews

 

Mark Weiss
President & CEO
Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR)
1331 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Suite 512
Washington, D.C. 20004
Phone: 202/783-4087
Fax: 202/783-4075
Email: MHARRDG@AOL.COM

Hearing Explores Government Role in Multifamily and Health Care Facilities

May 22nd, 2013 No comments

Even though this hearing and the Chairman’s quoted comments arise within the specific context of multifamily housing, they nevertheless are relevant to manufactured home financing as they reflect broader thinking in Congress regarding federal involvement in the housing market

Most particularly, the comments in paragraphs 3 and 4 once again confirms what MHARR has been saying all along with respect the failure of the FHA (via GNMA) and GSEs to provide adequate securitization and secondary market support for manufactured home loans and especially personal property (chattel loans) –i.e., that FHA and the GSEs have fundamentally departed from their original statutory mission of providing access to credit for lower-income borrowers and first-time homebuyers. That departure has harmed the very consumers that these entities were formed to serve, as well as the manufactured housing industry as a provider of affordable homeownership, with both FHA and the GSEs refusing to provide high-volume securitization for manufactured home loans – citing “risk” and “perceptions” without any hard data on the performance of current-day manufactured home loans – when it was the ventures of FHA and the GSEs in the “exotic” and subprime site-built mortgage market that led to the insolvency of the GSEs and now the near-insolvency of FHA.

Consequently, even though the availability of high-volume securitization for manufactured home loans – and especially chattel loans – has the capacity to turn the industry around virtually overnight and provide access to truly affordable homeownership for the lower-income borrowers and first-time homebuyers that these entities were created to serve, they nevertheless cling to discriminatory policies that have severely restricted such lending through the FHA Title I program and effectively excluded such loans from GSE support, notwithstanding the statutory “Duty to Serve” mandate. These baseless policies, moreover, have enabled the domination of the chattel finance market by a handful of companies with either pre-existing access to that restricted securitization or independent financial backing, further harming both consumers and the industry.

As this demonstrates, expanding the availability of chattel loan securitization and support to high volume levels must be a top priority for the industry in Washington, D.C.

Given the focus of the current Administration on providing fairness and increased access to home financing for the lower-income borrowers that FHA and the GSEs were created to serve, the industryhas a window of opportunity in the coming months to take concrete steps to correct these flawed policies and expand the availability of manufactured home financing. ##

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Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR)

1331 Pennsylvania Ave N.W., Suite 512
Washington, D.C. 20004
Phone: 202/783-4087
Fax: 202/783-4075
Email: MHARRDG@AOL.COM

 

 

 

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Press Release

 

For Immediate Release
May 16, 2013

 

Hearing Explores Government Role in Multifamily and Health Care Facilities Mortgage Insurance and Reverse Mortgages

 

WASHINGTON –The Financial Services Housing and Insurance Subcommittee continued its examination of the troubled Federal Housing Administration (FHA) today with a hearing that focused on several of the agency’s programs that operate outside its mission.

This was the subcommittee’s third hearing this year examining FHA and the need to reform the agency.

“FHA runs its operations contrary to the most basic principles of insurance and is nearing insolvency, putting taxpayers at risk of another government bailout,” said Subcommittee Chairman Randy Neugebauer (R-TX). “Members on both sides of the aisle strongly support FHA’s core mission of providing access to credit for lower-income borrowers and first-time homebuyers. There still is a general consensus in favor of strengthening and improving FHA, without risking further taxpayer exposure.”

Today’s hearing examined the mortgage insurance programs the FHA operates for multifamily housing, health care facilities and reverse mortgages – all of which are activities that reach far beyond the agency’s original mission. The FHA’s original mission is to provide mortgage financing opportunities for low-income and first-time homebuyers.

Given that the FHA was designated a “high risk” agency by the Government Accountability Office earlier this year, many wonder whether the FHA can viably carry out its original mission, much less these other programs that are not related to its mission.

In addition to insuring single-family mortgages, the FHA also insures other kinds of mortgages—such as those for multifamily rental housing and health care facilities—through a separate insurance fund called the General Insurance and Special Risk Insurance Fund. While this fund is not projected to incur losses in the near term, many are concerned about the role the FHA plays in the multifamily market and that its policies subject taxpayers to undue risk.

Due to a lack of transparency in the GI/SRI Fund, Congress cannot fully assess the fiscal state of the FHA’s multifamily insurance program.

The FHA also operates an insurance fund for reverse mortgages that enables those aged 62 or older to obtain additional income by borrowing against the equity in their homes. To make these mortgages possible, the reverse mortgage insurance provided by FHA protects lenders from losses due to non-payment.

In recent years, as home prices have fallen, many experts have become concerned about losses in the FHA’s reverse mortgage portfolio. An independent actuarial review released last November estimated that the economic value of the FHA’s reverse mortgage insurance program was negative $2.8 billion.

 

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MHI and it’s varied divisions as compared to MHARR

December 14th, 2011 No comments

Over the last several years trial balloons have been released suggesting that the industry’s best interests would be served by a merger of its two major trade organizations the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR). MHI serves as a trade organization for all of the major segments of the industry. Those segments (manufacturers, suppliers, communities, retailers and lenders) are represented within MHI by their own specialized division. In contrast, MHARR makes their position absolutely clear that their mission is to protect specifically manufacturers from an over reaching federal bureaucracy in the area of regulatory issues.

My position has been consistent over that same time frame that a merger of MHI and MHARR would not be a good idea for the industry. On a couple of occasions that position was incorrectly interpreted as criticism of MHI. My point instead has been that because of MHI’s role of being an overall industry trade (manufacturers, suppliers, communities, retailers and lenders) organization, taking a very aggressive role in the area of regulatory reform can be a difficult role to fill. On the other hand, MHARR makes no apologies for its repeated efforts to rein in a federal agency that is continuing to take positions and implement new regulations that will have significant cost impacts on our product with unsubstantiated benefits. As the chief executive of MHARR, Danny Ghorbani has been relentless in pursuing that mission. While he would like to be able to operate in concert with HUD, the federal agency that oversees our industry, he is not concerned about remaining pals with HUD if HUD is not functioning within the bounds of current statues.

Recently a proposal has been floated for communities to form their own organization to the point of eliminating MHI. A review of MHI’s current action list should provide a reasonably quick conclusion that one would have little confidence in the ability of a newly formed communities trade organization to accomplish even a fraction of the items on the list absent MHI. Communities (and retailers) should feel free to establish a separate trade organization if they desire to see more focus on the needs of their segment of the industry. That representation can be organized and still lend a voice to the overall trade organization as needed. As a retailer I certainly feel at times that MHI’s role is dominated by the interests of manufacturers. My solution, if so motivated, would be to establish a retail equivalent of MHARR. A retail trade organization that would then be focused on issues facing retailers. I believe that could be possible without establishing a goal of destroying MHI.

While I am not in favor of dismantling MHI, I will concede that I disagree strongly with MHI’s recent capitulation in regard to the preemption of fire sprinklers as they relate to the HUD Code and the activities and positions of the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee. MHARR’s position was statutorily correct and should have been backed by MHI rather than be undermined. Over a period of twenty years or so of my relationship with MHI, this issue does not mark my first disagreement with them and I have certainly never called for their dissolution due to any of those disagreements. MHI has the capacity and the history to be a very effective voice for the industry. We should work within the organization to address those areas where we disagree.

Douglas Gorman

Response On a Bold Proposal for Moving MHI, MHARR and Manufactured Housing Ahead

November 21st, 2011 No comments

 

One of the proposals being run up the flag pole is to merge MHI and MHARR with Danny Ghorbani to run the areas that are related to manufacturing and with George Allen running the areas related to communities. One obvious omission here is retail – not to mention lending, suppliers and other Industry elements at the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) – but the proposal has other issues that would suggest against implementation of such a concept.
 
 
Danny Ghorbani is imminently qualified to serve in a role overseeing the manufacturing issues within MHI. From Danny's point of view though, how long would he function before a clash in organizational culture styles might force him out the door?
 
 
Danny is fiercely defensive of issues that negatively affect his organization's members. Many of those members are small or even single plant operations that rightly or wrongly feel they do not have a sufficient voice in MHI. That perception is the reason MHARR was formed. Without some strong reassurances that small manufacturers will gain confidence regarding their voice and that Danny could not summarily be dismissed after the dismantling of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), I do not see a merger having success.
 
 
The merger idea has been floated before and gained little traction. I have spent approximately ten years working with both MHI and MHARR through my role on the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC). The two organizations functioned very well together in that regulatory environment, but Danny has been free to take up potentially controversial issues that MHI has been able to avoid.
 
 
I have pointed out previously that MHI, by its nature is a trade association that represents the entire industry. By that very nature, it serves in an umbrella or big tent role and all participants may not support an aggressive stance against actions taken by the Federal Government that impact our industry.
 
 
From the perspective of a medium or small manufacturer a significant concern would be to make sure Danny was mentoring a replacement as he gets closer to a time he may choose to retire.
 
 
Recent defensive stances taken by Danny include opposition to unwarranted increased regulatory monitoring activities (implemented by HUD) by the PIAs, exposure of inaccurate fire safety reports by NFPA, and presenting strong arguments for repositioning 3285 installation regulations into 3280 standards to allow for pre-emption of installation guidelines. Would Danny have been free to raise and argue these issues (just to name a few) as an employee of MHI?
 
 
The two individuals suggested certainly have the qualifications to share running a newly configured MHI. But:
 
  • Could MHARR member manufacturers have confidence in such a proposed restructure?
  • Could retailers and others have confidence in a proposed restructure where they are not even mentioned?
 
 
As a manufacturer, I would want to have a membership in both MHI and MHARR. I would look to MHI to continue to serve in the broad role as the industry's trade organization. I would look to MHARR to continue to monitor government actions that are an overreach with negative impacts on affordability for our customer base. # #
 
 
by Doug Gorman,
MH Retailer
HomeMart

Open letter to Association Executives on: State Association Dialogue Regarding “STEPS”

November 2nd, 2011 No comments

Dear State Association Executives:

We’ve been closely following your email discussion regarding the regulation of outside steps, including, particularly, the issue of federal versus state/local authority, questions concerning federal preemption and the possibility of approaching the MHCC with a proposal.

Unfortunately, this problem goes back to an issue raised by MHARR, some 8 years ago, when the federal installation standards (24 C.F.R. 3285) were first proposed by HUD and debated by the MHCC.  HUD has taken the position, based on an indefensible “interpretation” of the 2000 law, that installation is not part of “construction” and that only the Part 3280 construction and safety standards are preemptive – meaning that the Part 3285 installation standards are not preemptive.  MHARR (without help from others in the industry), vigorously opposed – and continues to oppose — this “re-codification” of installation, as is more fully explained in Fact Sheet No. 8 of the MHARR Fact Sheets regarding HUD’s failure to implement key 2000 law reforms that we sent to you on September 14, 2011.

The bottom line, for now, is that the Part 3285 installation standards, as construed by HUD, remain non-preemptive.  So, even if steps were part of the 3285 installation standards, or were made part of the installation standards, the federal step standard would still not be preemptive of state and/or local requirements.  Worse yet, because the MHCC only has statutory authority over “construction and safety” standards, HUD’s codification of the installation standards outside of the Part 3280 construction and safety standards, at a minimum, makes it doubtful whether the MHCC could even consider a proposal to amend the Part 3285 installation standards to include steps (and would create an endlessly muddled legal no-man’s land, if it did).

MHARR has been warning, ever since the installation standards were re-codified outside of Part 3280, that HUD’s baseless distinction between installation and construction would come back to haunt the industry and consumers in the form of inconsistent and needlessly costly state and local requirements.  And what you’re seeing here is likely just the tip of the iceberg, as we also noted that the full impact of all this would not begin to be felt until the federal installation program was fully implemented. Unfortunately, this is just one simple illustration from among the ten key reforms of the 2000 law (see your MHARR Fact Sheet packet), designed to complete the transformation of manufactured homes from the trailers of yesteryear to the modern legitimate housing of today, that HUD has refused to fully and properly implement – reforms that were designed to help the industry and its consumers that have been languishing at HUD for over ten years because of a lack of pressure from the entire industry.

Thanks,

Mark Weiss
Senior Vice President
Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR)

cc: HUD Code Retailers and Communities

“HUD Seeks to Institutionalize Expanded Regulation”

October 14th, 2011 No comments

Almost as an afterthought to its March 2010 proclamation that manufacturer compliance with new expanded in-plant regulation originally billed as voluntary would, henceforth, be “not voluntary,” HUD has recently announced that it intends to proceed with a new rule that would institutionalize that expansion and, at the same time, substantially alter existing regulations defining the pivotal relationship between third-party Primary Inspection Agencies (PIAs), manufacturers and HUD.  What is worse, is that HUD plans to institute rulemaking on this major and costly alteration of the existing in-plant regulation structure without a consensus of the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) and without even presenting a complete proposal to the MHCC as required by law and as requested by the MHCC itself.  Indeed, the story of how this has come about is a textbook reflection of HUD’s efforts over the past decade to minimize, circumvent and evade the program reforms of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000, and a case study for Congress when it examines the Department’s failure to fully and properly implement that law.

Back in 2008, HUD approached the MHCC with “concepts” for changing the fundamental role of third-party PIAs (and particularly private PIAs) as well as the nature of their relationship with both manufacturers and HUD.  These “concepts” ultimately led to HUD proposed revisions to elements of the Procedural and Enforcement Regulations (PER), that were presented, in piecemeal fashion, to the MHCC Regulatory Enforcement Subcommittee.  That process, however, was halted by a vote of the Subcommittee in September 2008, based on MHARR objections that the consideration of piecemeal proposals – that did not allow a complete evaluation of the interaction between various components – was improper, as was the consideration of such proposals without relevant cost information or justification as required by the 2000 law.

Confronted with this rejection, HUD responded with a three-pronged strategy.  First, beginning in late 2008, it embarked on a campaign to expand and fundamentally change in-plant regulation on the ground, without first complying with the due process requirements of the 2000 law, based on an elaborate series of “enhanced checklists,” “field guidance” documents and “standard operating procedures” that were not – and still have not been – presented to the MHCC for consensus review or published for notice and comment rulemaking.  Initially, and for nearly a year-and-a-half afterward, HUD characterized the major changes implemented by these documents as a process of “voluntary cooperation,” only to ultimately deem them “not voluntary” in March 2010.  An August 24, 2011 article in the Capitol newspaper “The Hill” aptly describes this type of process (being used increasingly by regulators), stating: “Th[e] new guidelines are  supposedly ‘voluntary,’ but don’t be fooled.  The federal government … has long been engaged in an egregious and unconstitutional regulatory power grab.  The strategy simply is to saddle disfavored industries with regulations disguised as ‘voluntary,’ and therefore not subject to the normal rulemaking process and judicial review.”  Although written about a different set of “voluntary” guidelines, the same logic and analysis holds here.

Second, in 2009, HUD returned to the MHCC with a unified regulatory proposal to amend the PER regulations in a way that would legitimize and provide legal support for such “on the ground” expanded in-plant regulation.  In a formal September 2009 letter ballot, however, HUD was unable to secure an MHCC consensus on this proposal, specifically due, as reflected by MHCC minutes, to the Department’s failure to provide the Committee with adequate justification showing the need for such changes, as well as its failure to provide concrete information regarding the cost-impact of its proposal.

Third, when MHARR continued its objections to the “on the ground” imposition of such a costly regulatory expansion without compliance with relevant due process protections, HUD, on February 5, 2010, issued an “interpretive rule,” without opportunity for public comment, designed to ensure that the MHCC would never get an opportunity to review its expanded in-plant regulation checklists, “field guidance” and standard operating procedures, by simply reading catchall section 604(b)(6) – requiring MHCC consideration and related rulemaking for any change in “inspection practices” – out of the 2000 law.

Now, HUD is taking the next step to institutionalize expanded in-plant regulation.  As announced by HUD regulators at an August 17, 2011 meeting of the MHCC’s Regulatory Enforcement Subcommittee, the Department plans to go forward with a proposed rule relating to the role and activities of the PIAs without further consultation with the MHCC, despite the absence of an MHCC consensus due to HUD’s own failure, in 2009, to provide justification and cost information that the MHCC is required to consider by the 2000 law.  Questioned about this procedure, HUD’s representative stated that the MHCC had “had its chance” in 2009.

This stance, however, flouts (once again) the requirements of the 2000 law. Section 604(b) of the law requires that the MHCC consider every proposed PER regulation, absent a declared emergency.  Further, section 604(e) of the law requires that the MHCC consider the cost-impact and justification for any such proposed regulation.  The MHCC, however, has never been provided with this requisite information by HUD.  As a result, there are two possible scenarios in this matter, both of which violate the 2000 law – (1) if HUD’s new proposal is in any way different from the proposal that failed to attain an MHCC consensus in 2009, then it has never been considered by the MHCC and violates section 604(b); (2) if the new proposal is identical to the 2009 proposal, it still has not been properly presented to and considered by the MHCC in accordance with the law, because mandatory elements required for MHCC consideration in accordance with the law – cost-impact data and a showing of justification – were never provided.  Put differently, if HUD’s position were correct, the Department could effectively evade the consensus requirements of the 2000 law on every proposal simply by refusing to provide the MHCC with cost-impact, justification, or other  information needed or required for MHCC review and consensus comments.

HUD, in an attempt to minimize this further restriction of the role and authority of the MHCC and its own obligation to comply with the due process requirements of the 2000 law, noted that Committee members could submit comments during the public comment period on the proposed rule, but this misses the central point of the MHCC and the 2000 law – that regulatory changes should be based on the consensus agreement of all program stakeholders.  And there is not – and never has been — a consensus on any changes relating to the role of the PIAs or an expansion of in-plant regulation.  Simply stated, a federally-regulated industry that has lost more than 80% of its production over the past 12 years, should not allow this kind of incremental evasion of the law.

In MHARR’s view, this proposal, a vestige of prior program management that sought to minimize and bypass the reforms of the 2000 law, should be withdrawn by the new program management and re-submitted to the MHCC, this time with proper cost-benefit information and specific justification – if one exists.

MHARR VIEWPOINT
By Danny D. Ghorbani

Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) is a Washington D.C.-based national trade association representing the views and interests of producers of federally-regulated manufactured housing.