Congress has significantly raised the pressure on senior HUD officials to address key issues affecting manufactured housing, namely the full and proper implementation of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (2000 reform law) and the availability of financing for lower and moderate income Americans to purchase manufactured homes -- the two issues that have been MHARR's primary focus in Washington, D.C. to halt and reverse the industry's continuing decline.
At a December 2, 2009 hearing of the House Financial Services Committee on the financial condition of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and Assistant Secretary David Stevens were specifically asked about the priority given to manufactured housing within the Department of Housing and Urban Development and whether HUD intends to appoint a non-career Administrator for the federal manufactured housing program, as provided by the 2000 reform law.
Noting that the appointment of a non-career Administrator for the manufactured housing program affects "everything" concerning manufactured housing at HUD, including the availability of financing, Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fl.) asked the HUD officials if and when HUD plans to fill this position. A pointed exchange then followed. When the officials responded merely that the matter had been studied at HUD and discussed with industry, the Congressman pointed out that the non-career Administrator position had been authorized by Congress eight years ago, and asked whether HUD had formed an "opinion yet." The officials then raised the issue of Administration limits on the number of available "Schedule C" positions and stated that the manufactured housing industry did not "warrant" such a position, leading the Congressman to ask incredulously whether it was their contention that Congress had been "wrong" or "stupid" to mandate a non-career Administrator. This issue remained open when the time for questions expired.
This exchange is significant because it is consistent with efforts by MHARR to raise the profile of HUD's failure to fully and properly implement the 2000 reform law passed by Congress to ensure the treatment of HUD Code manufactured housing as legitimate housing, as well as the need to decisively address the availability of consumer financing for manufactured home purchases. The fact that Congress would raise and press these issues at a hearing to address more general concerns regarding FHA indicates that they have gained traction among members.
It is also noteworthy -- in the wake of MHARR's December 1, 2009 letter to HUD's General Counsel, asking for a review of recent efforts by program regulators to pressure manufacturers into adopting production oversight measures that exceed existing regulations -- that during this exchange, the HUD officials indicated that they had been holding ongoing discussions with HUD's General Counsel regarding manufactured housing, including a meeting "this morning" (i.e., December 2, 2009).
Moreover, MHARR's continuing focus and pressure regarding finance issues has raised concerns within Congress, especially with regard to the FHA Title I manufactured housing program. Thus, following the hearing, members indicated that they would submit written questions to the Secretary and Assistant Secretary for inclusion in the hearing record, which will specifically address the Title I program, such as:
When a final rule to implement the FHA Title I manufactured housing program improvements legislated by Congress in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 will be published and fully implemented by HUD; and
Steps that can be taken by HUD to lift the Ginnie Mae moratorium on the securitization of new manufactured housing loans once the final FHA Title I rule is published and implemented.
MHARR will continue to keep the industry apprised of new developments regarding these issues.
Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform
1331 Pennsylvania Ave N.W., Suite 508
Washington, D.C. 20004