Action Needed -- Urge Representatives to Co-Sponsor the
Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Finance Act (H.R. 3849)
This morning an MHI Action Alert was emailed to members urging each one to contact their U.S. Representatives and urge them to co-sponsor H.R. 3849 (Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act).
On January 31st, Reps. Stephen Fincher (R-TN), Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Gary Miller (R-CA) introduced the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act (H.R. 3849) to reduce regulatory burdens that impede access to affordable manufactured housing financing. The bipartisan bill addresses two significant issues impacting consumers’ ability to obtain mortgage financing for manufactured homes:
• Reducing the threshold by which small balance manufactured home personal property loans are considered High-Cost Mortgage Loans under provisions within the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (P.L. 111-203) which will thereby reduce the number of loans subject to punitive and onerous liabilities.
• Clarifying that those selling manufactured homes—who are not fundamentally engaged in the business of originating mortgage loans—are not to be defined as mortgage originators under the federal SAFE Act which will thereby ensure they are better able to provide adequate technical assistance to consumers throughout the manufactured home buying process (similar to the SAFE Act treatment of real estate brokers).
The bill would amend these laws to minimize growing disincentives to serving the financing needs of low- and moderate-income manufactured home buyers. Often, it is these very consumers that are in greatest need of access to both affordable housing financing and technical assistance in the manufactured home buying process. Without revision, there would remain the very real unintended consequence of eliminating access to sustainable manufactured housing for millions of families. For more information, click here to view MHI’s issue brief.
MHI is working to add as many co-sponsors to the bill as quickly as possible. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) must have regulations for housing finance in final form by January 2013. This is also the same time the CFPB expects to begin fully monitoring and enforcing state SAFE Act laws.
The more co-sponsors to the bill, the stronger argument MHI can make to leaders of the House Financial Services Committee to move the bill quickly. In addition, the greater the level of bipartisan support the less controversial the measure will be perceived, which will allow for swifter action.
Assistance is needed from the entire manufactured housing industry to contact Members of Congress, and specifically request the following actions:
For more information, click here to view MHI’s issue brief, which includes a sample letter, talking points and background information. To find your U.S. Representative using your zip code, visit www.house.gov/. Please relay any commitments you receive from Representatives to co-sponsor HR 3849 to MHI staff. MHI can then follow up on these commitments in Washington, DC.
• If you have Representatives that serve on the House Financial Services Committee (http://financialservices.house.gov/About/Members.htm), please reach out to them and urge them to co-sponsor HR 3849. If you have a close connection or relationship with congressional staff or a Member of Congress, direct communication (phone or email) is the most effective means of communication.
• If you are a manufactured home community owner, retailer, lender, etc., please consider urging your customers/residents to send their own letters requesting their U.S. Representative co-sponsor H.R. 3849. MHI staff can assist in drafting a personalized letter and alert to your customer base.
Manufactured Housing Scores with Media Coverage
Two recent media “hits” have given manufactured housing some much-deserved visibility. On Friday, March 16th, USA TODAY ran a letter to the editor from MHI responding to a particularly negative article attacking “mobile home safety” as a result of powerful tornadoes that struck Kentucky and Indiana earlier in the month. MHI President & CEO Dick Jennison took the opportunity to stress that tornadoes do not discriminate as to which form of housing they destroy and that the article gave people a false sense of security about tornadoes’ destructive force. Jennison also stressed that no form of housing provides an absolute guarantee of safety during a tornado and what every family needs to know is that the only safe place to be during a tornado is in a proper shelter, preferably below ground. A copy of USA TODAY’s letter is available by clicking here.
The second media coverage was a very positive article in the March 20th issue of The Wall Street Journal entitled “Manufactured Housing Under Renovation” which pointed out the tremendous strides being made by the manufactured housing industry, both in terms of the quality of the homes and the growing appeal of our homes to more and more Americans looking for housing value. The article, written by Dawn Wotapka and A.D. Pruitt, provides a realistic and positive portrayal of our homes, our buyers and our industry’s future. Click here to view the article. Take this article to your local newspaper and encourage them to follow up on the storyline of how manufactured homes are meeting the need for quality housing in your area that people can afford.
MHI and Skyline Corporation Hosts Plant Tour for Housing Economists and Analysts with the U.S. Commerce Department and HUD
Representatives from the U.S. Department of Commerce and Housing and Urban Development were the guests of Skyline Corporation for a tour of a manufacturing facility and home display center in Pennsylvania this week.
During the hour long walk through Skyline's 170,000 square foot facility, the group observed several lines of manufactured homes and recreational park trailers in various stages of production. Although none were in production at the time, the facility also produces modular homes.
The group heard from Skyline’s Division General Manager, Mike Scheid and Division Sales Manager, Bryan Lehman about the production process, the history of Skyline, and several of Skyline’s production and sales initiatives that have enabled the company to stay competitive and meet the growing consumer demand for quality, value, and innovation. Mary Gaiski, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Manufactured Housing Association, and MHI staff were on hand to answer questions and address several federal, state and local regulatory challenges facing the industry.
The tour was extremely helpful for staff at the Commerce Department’s Bureau of the Census who manage and produce several surveys, reports and data specifically about the manufactured housing industry. Links to these resources are below. The Census Bureau will be exhibiting at the Congress & Expo in Las Vegas for those who wish to learn more about the tools and resources it offers.
MHI/NCC Seeking Reform of EPA’s LRRP Rule
Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, has introduced the Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2012 (S. 2148) making practical reforms to the EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) rule. EPA’s final LRRP rule, which took effect on April 22, 2010, requires remodeling and renovation firms that perform work on pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities to be EPA certified and follow rigorous, costly work practices supervised by an EPA-certified renovator when painted surfaces will be disturbed. On July 6, 2010, EPA removed the "Opt-Out” provision from the rule which allowed homeowners without children under six or pregnant women residing in the home to allow their contractor to forego the use of lead-safe work practices. By removing the opt-out provision, EPA more than doubled the number of homes subject to the LRRP Rule to 78 million. EPA has also begun the process of extending the LRRP Rule to commercial and public buildings through an advance notice of proposed rulemaking.
There are several compliance issues associated with the EPA lead-based paint rule, the most problematic being EPA’s failure to recognize an accurate lead test kit. There is no current test kit available that meets EPA’s own requirements. Compliance with the EPA’s LRRP rule would be particularly impactful for a manufactured housing community owner of an older community (pre 1978) who is seeking to renovate buildings within the community.
MHI/NCC has joined with other associations representing builders, contractors, remodelers, manufacturers, retailers, building owners, and real estate professionals in seeking reform of the EPA’s LRRP rule to make compliance requirements more reasonable and less burdensome. The coalition strongly supports the “Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2012” (S. 2148). S. 2148 would make the following changes to the LRRP rule:
• Restore the “Opt-Out” provision;
• Suspend the LRRP if EPA cannot approve one or more test kits that meet the regulation’s requirements;
• Prohibit EPA from expanding the LRRP to commercial and public buildings until EPA conducts a study demonstrating the need for such an action;
• Provide a de minimis exemption for first-time paperwork non-compliance by certified contractors; and
• Provide an exemption for renovations after a natural disaster.
MHI/NCC will continue to monitor this issue and work closely with its coalition partners in building support for S. 2148.
ADA Pool Standards
On Thursday, March 15th the Department of Justice issued an extension of the date for compliance with the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design as it relates to the provision of accessible entry and exit to existing swimming pools, wading pools, and spas. The new effective date is May 21, 2012. On the same day, the Justice Department released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking public comment on whether a 180-day extension of the deadline (until September 17, 2012) would be more appropriate to allow pool owners and operators to meet their compliance obligations.
In general, and for purposes of compliance, the definition of “public accommodations” would apply to buildings and/or facilities that are open to the public and affect commerce. As such, swimming pools in manufactured housing communities that are for the exclusive use of the residents do not generally fit the category of “public accommodations.” If, however, a manufactured housing community pool is open to the public (non-residents), then compliance with the new ADA pool accessibility guidelines would be necessary.
Comments on the NPRM will be accepted for 15 days after publication in the Federal Register or April 4, 2012.
• Notice of 60 day extension & Notice of Proposed Rulemaking from ADA Web site - www.ada.gov/regs2010/ADAregs2010.htm
• Submit comments to DOJ electronically by April 4, 2012 - www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=DOJ-CRT-2012-0006-0001
• Guidance on revised ADA requirements: Accessible Pools from ADA
Web site - www.ada.gov/pools_2010.htm
A new technical assistance document, “Accessible Pools -- Means of Entry and Exit,” has been added to the ADA’s website and is now available to the public. People interested in finding out more about the ADA can access the ADA website at www.ADA.gov or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TTY).