The U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) has published new proposed standards for Emergency Transportable Housing (ETH) units purchased by federal government agencies. The proposed rule (see, copy attached), published in the Federal Register on June 18, 2012, essentially incorporates the consensus recommendations of an Access Board advisory committee -- including an MHARR representative -- which met from 2007 to 2008
There are three significant aspects to the proposed rule. First, as is indicated by the preamble discussion, the standards that would be implemented by the proposed rule apply only to emergency transportable housing units purchased by federal government agencies using federal funds and, even then, only to a relatively limited number of those homes. Additional costs associated with those accessibility features would be borne by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and any other federal agencies purchasing such homes. The standards, by contrast,do not apply to manufactured homes sold within the private-sector marketplace where relevant federal law requires that any change to the Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards be both objectively justified and cost-justified, and subject to the MHCC process, HUD Secretary approval and rulemaking.
Second, the proposed rule applies only to “temporary” emergency housing. By its terms, it does not apply to permanent replacement housing within disaster areas purchased by private individuals with the support of federal grants or other forms of assistance.
Third, the proposed rule does not include a standard for Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) generally or formaldehyde vapor specifically. While the subject of IAQ was raised by several members of the advisory committee, MHARR objected to any additional standard, noting that HUD Code manufactured homes – unlike other units utilized as ETH – are already subject to strict and effective formaldehyde vapor standards that, since their adoption, have reduced formaldehyde complaints for HUD Code homes to minimal levels.
Comments concerning the proposed ETH rule are due on or before August 17, 2012. MHARR plans to submit detailed comments on behalf of its members stressing that the standards, while not objectionable within the government-purchase market, are not and would not be acceptable as mandates for the private market because of their substantial cost and negative impact on the affordability, design and livability of manufactured housing for the vast majority of manufactured home purchasers, particularly when such features remain available as options for purchasers who want or need them.
MHARR will keep you updated on each of the above matters as new developments unfold.
cc: Other Interested HUD Code Manufacturers, Retailers and Communities
Danny D. Ghorbani, President
Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform