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Posts Tagged ‘manufacturers’

Here comes the Senior Tsunami!

September 4th, 2014 No comments

Yesterday, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University and AARP released a major study on the growth of 50+ households. For those in the MH industry, the study is worth a close read.

Of note, in the next 20 years, the population aged 50+ is projected to increase from 109 million to more than 132 million. We knew this was coming.

Shocking to me was that homeownership is more prevalent for those in their 70s, with more than 80 percent of them owning homes, compared to only 70 percent of those in their 50s. Are those in their 50s likely to become homeowners later in life? Will they buy a home in our communities? Perhaps they will.

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Given the income levels and retirement plans for most, I’d say this study gives us confidence there are a lot of future customers nearing our doorsteps.

Take note, though. The MH that’s currently in place and with which I’m familiar is not exactly what’s needed. The reports states, “Much of the nation’s housing inventory also lacks basic accessibility features (such as no-step entries, extra-wide doorways, and lever-style door and faucet handles), preventing older persons with disabilities from living safely and comfortably in their homes.”

We know manufacturers can do all of these things. Is that what you’re ordering?

MH is well positioned in terms of entry price. Again, the report says, “High housing costs currently force a third of adults 50 and over — including 37 percent of those 80 and over — to pay more than 30 percent of their income for homes that may or may not fit their needs, forcing them to cut back on food, health care, and, for those 50-64, retirement savings.”

But, many 55+ communities don’t really operate with the level of support and services that the report says will be needed.

The report notes support services of the sort that some MHCs do deliver are too rare. We see informal support services — ride shares, home repairs, checking in, snow removal — in many of the 55+ plus resident-owned communities with which we work. We can do a better job of linking our members to services that are generally available to low-income seniors. I’m guessing most community owners could do better. It will matter more and more; one in eight people will be over 75 in 2040!

The report is long and in depth, but definitely worth reading and sharing. Enjoy! ##

Paul Bradley is the founding president of ROC USA, LLC, which has helped 67 resident groups inpaul-bradley75x75-roc-usa-president-posted-industry-voices-manufactured-housing-mhpronews- 14 states purchase their MHCs from willing sellers since 2008. Contact him at pbradley@rocusa.org.

 

 

(Editor's Note: A video interview with Paul Bradley is found here, and you can find A Cup of Coffee with… Paul Bradley, linked here.)

(Infographic credit: AARP Foundation)

Reply to Danny Ghorbani’s, “Sobering Wake Up Call…” – “MHARR Report and Analysis “

August 14th, 2014 2 comments

(Editor's note, the following is in reply to a public message sent from Danny Ghorbani's email at MHARR, linked here, that was critical of Bill Matchneer, JD, and some recent HUD action. Since the factory named had the issue corrected, that plant's name was edited out.  Other views are welcome.)

Plants are certified (licensed to build homes) by HUD based on the strength of their quality control (QC) programs. That’s what the regs say and that’s always been the practice. All I did was make sure plants continued to maintain the level of QC the regs require and let them know that HUD could suspend or revoke the certification if the QC falls below a certain point.

This change in program emphasis was motivated by a series of homes that was shipped from a ——– plant in California with no flue connections. Several families were nearly asphyxiated. The only real complaints came from Danny.

I mostly got compliments and thanks from manufacturers who not only saw real improvements in their products but in employee morale as well.

MHI knows it’s the right way to go, as does Pam Danner, with whom I’ve had several conversations on the subject. ##

Bill-Matchneer-mhpronews-com-75x75Bill Matchneer

(Editor's Note, you can see our latest interview A Second Cup of Coffee withBill Matchneer,” at the link shown.)

Who’s in Charge Here?

June 3rd, 2014 No comments

Rick Rand’s excellent proposal for an all-industry conclave at a neutral location is gathering momentum. Such a venue should certainly not screen out the smaller operators who have always been a prime source of innovation, and it is vitally important that the “big guys” also be at the table. Make room for the various associations charged with the thankless task of placating the placating the industry’s many voices.

As a long-retired veteran of manufactured housing, I’m appalled at the conflicts, back-biting and lack of leadership that has always hamstrung our young industry. It was understandable in the early days when the largest manufacturers controlled less than ten percent of shipments and no other industry constituent was in a position make things happen beyond his own company (in those days, the leading players were all men).

Today, though manufactured housing is a shadow of its former self, the product itself is far better, the need for affordable housing is far greater, the leading manufacturers remain profitable, the market for manufactured housing communities is heating up and the stick competition is in disarray. So why are our sales volumes in the dumper?

It is true of course that we, as an industry, have made many mistakes. And we’ll make more.

In a free enterprise system, we learn from our mistakes and keep moving forward. That’s exactly what needs to happen at the kind of meeting Rick has proposed. Pull the tribe together with an agenda focused on the problems we’ve created, the opportunities ahead and agree upon a broad based strategy to deal with today’s challenges. Ideas and innovations are often sparked over a cup of coffee or glass of beer, and contacts have always been the lifeblood of the industry.

But far more is needed than griping about Dodd-Frank and what names we should use for our products. Consider some fundamentals.

Housing is one of America’s least efficient industries. That includes stick builders and us too. Why is that? Well, there’s no serious foreign or domestic competition, no real industry leadership, way too much regulation and negligible innovation. That’s been the case for a hundred years.

Academics and all sorts of advanced thinkers have, for at least that long, looked to industrializing the building process to break out of housing’s quagmire. It has finally happened. The industry we now call manufactured housing has demonstrated the ability to build good housing at roughly half the cost of traditional methods, and we have the black eyes to prove it.

As one result, America’s largest home builder is one of us, and one of the world’s richest men bankrolls MH financing. Something like 20 million Americans live in homes we’ve built and the vast majority of them appreciate the comfort and value those homes provide. There’s ever so much more that could and should be done, but we’ve made a better start than any other tilter at housing’s windmills. Many have tried.

One thing the MH industry agreed upon some 40 years ago was to unite under the HUD banner. That turned out to be a painful process with about as many negative as positive outcomes. We banded together again to reform that process with the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA 2000), but guess what? Big Brother has its own ideas about “Improvement” which do not include a lot of use for industry committee input.

We’ve got a lot going for us, and yet the squabbles continue. If there’s an industry strategy, it did not emerge from my recent research. What is happening is a plethora of tactics, put forward under various banners, mostly going nowhere.

As an industry professional, you can put forward some ideas for how to deal with these challenges. So can I, and I’ve done so in my recent book, Dueling Curves. It’s not enough.

Maybe at Rick’s gathering of the tribes, some sort of consensus can be reached, on a whole bunch of nifty ideas.

But that’s not enough either.

The single most important objective of such a congress—or whatever it’s to be called—should be to the emergence of industry leadership. Not a task force, committee or agency, but a person of vision who commands the respect of the industry.

A tribal chief who can weave the disparate strengths of the manufacturers, suppliers, financiers, retailers, MH owners and community operators into a strategy we can all salute. Oh well, yes, there will always be a few curmudgeons. No one will be entirely happy with any strategic vision adequate to unite us; not even the leader who ultimately propounds it.

But let me suggest this. Should we fail to unite behind competent leadership, I can suggest who will become take charge of the industry. Well, maybe I shouldn’t name names, but the initials are H.U.D. ##

bob-vahsholtz-author-dueling-curves-battle-for-housing-posted-industry-voices-guest-blog-mhpronews-com-manufatured-housing-professional-news-75x75-Bob Vahsholtz is the author of DUELING CURVES The Battle for Housing Bob can be reached at kingmidgetswest@gmail.com. Web: www.kingmidgetswest.com

Appalled by Gary Rivlin’s New York Times Article on “The Cold, Hard Lessons of Mobile Home U”

April 8th, 2014 No comments

As an experienced industry professional, former owner of a manufactured home, and academic scholar completing a dissertation on attitudes and perceptions towards manufactured housing, I am appalled by the seemingly acceptable exploitation of low-income residents and lack of corporate social and ethical responsibility conveyed in this article.

Gary Rivlin’s article portrayed Frank Rolfe’s business model and success as the standard for the affordable housing side of the manufactured home industry.

According to peer-reviewed academic research, the negative social construction of low-income families profoundly influence opinions of affordable housing residents (Nguyen et al., 2012).

Contemporary mass media and popular culture, such as Rivlin’s piece, contribute to the negative stigmatization through the depiction of manufactured housing residents as alcoholics, crack heads, drug dealers, wife beaters, sex offenders, and the mentally ill (Kusenbach, 2009).

While Rolfe’s tales of tenants “weirdness” certainly adds humorous entertainment to his lesson of exploiting the poverty class, the damage inflicted through contributing to negative stigmatization of residents is concerning.

Rivlin’s article is a prime example of media coverage that increases misconceptions through inaccurate and outdated information, as well as the omission of information about advancements and improvements.

I am disappointed that The New York Times would contribute to the unflattering depiction of manufactured housing residents and use of deprecating names (i.e. trailer) that reduce social prestige and contribute to negative social perceptions.

According to research by Mimura et al. (2010), accurate media coverage should use proper terminology instead of dated slang words and report truthful and unbiased aspects of the product.

Perhaps Mr. Rivlin should spend some time with one of the industry manufacturers and gain an accurate perspective of the product and targeted consumer market.##

lisa-tyler-walden-university-posted-manufactured-home-professional-news-mhpronews-com-50x50-(1).pngLisa Tyler
Walden University
lisa.tyler@waldenu.edu

(Editor's Note: A broad, industry based response to the Cold Hard Lessons of Mobile Home U, which includes comments MHI's Chairman Nathan Smith and other industry veterans, is found at this link below.

http://www.ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com/sensationalistic-cold-hard-lessons-of-mobile-home-u-new-york-times-article-by-gary-rivlin-draws-manufactured-home-industry-ire-desire-and-fire/

The story linked above, as the second one below, have both been leading reads on their respective sites.

Reader responses to this topic or others of industry interest are welcomed at latonyk@gmail.com or iReportMHNewsTips@mhmsm.com please indicated your topic in the subject line, thank you.)

Why Retailers and Community Operators should go to Tunica!

March 19th, 2014 No comments

As I read the digital 2014 Tunica Show brochure and business building and profit protecting seminar line up, it became crystal clear why Retailers and Community Owner/Operators ought to be in Tunica next Wednesday morning through Friday at noon (March 26-28)!

Retailers and Communities can get free:

  • Networking with your peers,
  • Compare Manufacturers side by side, over 80 homes will be on display!
  • Compare products and services needed by your business side by side,
  • Get the latest on Manufactured Home Lending available TODAY, from all the major lenders all under one roof.
  • Get expert guidance on Commercial Lending on MH Communities,
  • Get marketing and sales tips in the Dominate Your Local Market 2.0 Seminar, featuring manufactured housing marketing and sales veteran, L. A. “Tony” Kovach.
  • Compare CRM products in a free panel discussion with Scott Stroud and myself, and learn why they are a key to growing your sales in 2014 and beyond.
  • Get success tips on MH Communities (MHCs) from pros with successful firms who know!

Let me give you a quick snapshot of the last bullet point above, which will provide the reasons you need to grab your business cards, and have your photo ID so you can enter the Tunica Show, free!

In the last decade, as the numbers of retailers and shipments declined, manufactured home communities (MHC) have of necessity become on-site-home leasing and selling operations.

Communities have always had to do the types of services and duties that developers and multi-family operations have provided in the conventional housing world.

Tunica has become a magnet in recent years, attracting more communities as well as more retailers than in prior years.

Here is the line up of on the panel for MHC Lessons Learned, to be held Thursday, 10:00 AM – 10:55 AM on March 27th.

Success Tips from Manufactured Home Community Owners & Executives!

For anyone in or thinking about getting into the land-lease community business, this panel discussion is for you! Hear practical tips from community operators that can help you operate your community more professionally and profitably.

jenny-hodge-national-coummunities-council-ncc-industry-voices-manufactured-housing-pro-news

Jenny Hodge, Vice President of the National Communities Council (NCC), will be your panel moderator.

You can learn more about Jenny in this month's MHProNews exclusive interview A Cup of Coffee with…Jenny Hodge.

tammy-fonk-8-2013-cbre-posted-mhpronews-industryvoices

Among those on the three person MHC panel is Tammy Fonk, an Associate with the CBRE MH/RV National Group. Tammy was born and raised in the MH industry with two family owned communities. She operated the family owned company's sales and marketing business as well as having an active role in day to day community operations and resident relations. As a member of the MHRV Team, Tammy now works closely with public and private investors on building business relations and opportunities to enhance the Manufactured Housing Industry as well as the RV Resort and Marina properties in North America. Tammy works with owners and buyers of small, medium and larger communities in addition to representing large portfolio owners.

maria-horton-newport-pacific-capital-posted-industry-voices-manufactured-housing-pro-news-com

Maria Horton is a regional manager with West Coast powerhouse, Newport Pacific. Maria's bio is linked here, but having met her, let me tell you what her resume doesn't say. This is a warm, delightful engaging professional! You will love to hear here insights and experiences on this panel discussion.

rick-rand-great-value-homes-l-sam-zell-equity-lifestyle-properties-els-chair ... layton-clayton-bank-chairman-industry-voices-manufactured-home-pro-news

Rick Rand (l), Sam Zell (c), Jim Clayton (r)

Last and not least, is Rick Rand, who made quite a stir recently with this guest column. Rick was the subject of another MHProNews.com interview, A Cup of Coffee with…Rick Rand.

If online registration for the Tunica Show is closed by the time you read this, don't worry! You can bring your business card and a photo ID, retailers, communities, builder-developers, realtors and installers will be able to sign up at the door, free with those credentials!

Let me close with a tip of the hat to L. A. Tony Kovach. Dennis Hill recently gave Tony quite the well deserved public shout-out, for his key role in the come back of the Louisville Manufactured Housing Show.

Community Operations executive Ted Gross, with Continental Communities praised his session as being the best marketing presentation he had seen since coming into the MHC business.

We've worked with Tony about 90 days now, and let me tell you from first hand experience his deep passion for the MH Industry.

Tony cares about the success of people, operations and loves to see happy consumers enjoying our product.

I don't personally know of anyone who gives more time away for the benefit of the industry.

Tony's consulting and banner ads have helped our company's growth and presence in MH significantly! On MHProNews, he brings out the articles, experts and tackles the topics others shy away from, and is a friendly, peace loving professional and family man.

When you think about it, Tony's efforts to inspire our industry to do more and grow at shows like Louisville and Tunica are part of the rising tide of sales in our industry. You may or may not know it yet, but he makes you money just by being here and spreading the good word about our industry on sites like ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com and here on MHProNews.com.

These are among the reasons why I'll be voting for him as MHI Supplier of the Year, and I hope others that read this will consider doing the same.

We will be at booth 13H in Harrah's Convention Hall. Change your plans! Make your travel arrangements! Fly, drive or hitch a ride, but we hope to see you in Tunica for the 2014 Tunica Manufactured Housing Show! ##

brad-nelms-coo-manufactured-homes-com-posted-mhpronews-comBrad Nelms
COO
ManufacturedHomes.com

A Decades Old Quest!

December 5th, 2012 No comments

(Editor's note: a message with a ten year old editorial column came in with an attachment. I asked the sender to write a new introduction, which is the first paragraph below. The rest is a decade old, but could have been written yesterday! Let's not let another 10 years go by and say, “what if?”)

It is not news to any of us in the Manufactured Housing arena that there are serious challenges facing our business from all sides. In survival mode during hard times, it’s easy to forget some of the important  image issues that have constantly plagued us.  How we present ourselves personally; neat and tidy, with a smile on our face, ought to be applied to the way our industry presents itself to the public.  Consider the following:

There has always been a lot of talk within the manufactured housing industry about our image. As a Landscape Architect and planner of manufactured housing communities for more than thirty-five years, image has been an important consideration in the design of communities and the focus of my activities in the industry. It is the source of great frustration to me, that both new and older communities are being designed or presented to the public like the trailer parks of the past.

Row on row of new homes spread out like dominoes on the land, with little apparent thought given to the final appearance of the community and the image it will portray for generations to come. Why is it so? Do developers, engineers, designers and planners feel that our customers don’t deserve better? Is there an assumption that creative planning is too costly? Is enough energy being expended by the national and state industry organizations to promote good design as an important part of our image building strategy? Are we doing enough to educate the planners who review our projects to recognize, encourage and approve projects that are attractive and desirable living environments? I fear that all of the above are true.

Our counterparts in the site built housing business are keenly aware of the benefits of creative planning. The traditional neighborhood development movement, open space conservation planning, planned unit developments, cluster designs, and curvilinear concepts are stock in trade for the better developers. The appearance of their developments from the street, curb appeal and sizzle of their homes is as important a part of their merchandising effort as their floor plans, interior decorating and furnishings. Models are creatively furnished inside and attractively landscaped outside to excite and stimulate the customer. Builder’s displays at development model centers are creatively done with renderings illustrating the final and complete appearance of the home package.

Contrast this to the way the majority of manufactured homes and developments are merchandised. For the most part our homes are pictured by the manufacturers as “plain Jane” boxes devoid of the elements that if added would ultimately make the house an attractive home. These same units are shown to the public at sales centers without any of these important added elements. Is it any wonder our customers feel that their home is complete once it is blocked up on their lot? Community and subdivision developers also miss an opportunity when houses are permitted in developments without the simplest of requirements that would assure curb appeal for the home and the development. Even simple appearance requirements would help to assure growth in the value of the home and the development.

The majority of manufactured homes are designed and built with image emphasis on the long side of the home, this is all well and good when the home is placed long side to the street on wide subdivision and land lease lots. Unfortunately these wide lots result in a significant increase in development cost and a reduction in density. So much for affordability! A few manufacturers are placing emphasis on “developer Series” homes, homes that look good on larger lots and in scattered site settings. A “community series” of homes with emphasis on the appearance of the narrow end of the home would be a great improvement. After all, aren’t most of the homes in communities and subdivisions placed on affordably planned narrow lots resulting in end rather than side views of the home from the street?

Perhaps if our industry were to place more emphasis on the final product, the completed home, we could more rapidly move toward public acceptance of manufactured homes. Many years ago, the Urban Demonstration Project sponsored by MHI proved that with sensitivity to detail and proper presentation, our homes could be a welcomed addition to most neighborhoods. Will we ever profit and learn from these experiences, or continue to “succeed in spite of ourselves” because we provide the least costly available housing. I am certain that the continued growth in of our share of housing in America is dependent on whether we view each new home sold and each new development as an opportunity to improve the image of manufactured housing. I am also certain that continuing to design and develop new “trailer Parks” and sell incomplete homes will perpetuate the industry stereotypes that have helped to keep us from reaching our full potential….What do you think? ##

Don Westphal
Donald C. Westphal, Associates
71 North Livernois Ave.
Rochester Hills, MI 48307
PH: 248-651-5518
Fax: 248-651-0450

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

“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.