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MHARR Meeting with New FHFA Leadership

DrMarkCalabriaFHFADirectorOfficialPhotoMHARRmeetingNewFHFALeadershipManufacturedHousingAssocRegulatoryReform

JULY 15, 2019

TO:  MHARR MANUFACTURERS
MHARR TECHNICAL REVIEW GROUP (TRG)
MHARR STATE AFFILIATES

FROM: MHARR

RE:  MHARR MEETING WITH NEW FHFA LEADERSHIP

An MHARR delegation met with senior officials of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) on July 11, 2019, including newly-confirmed FHFA Director, Dr. Mark Calabria. The entire focus of this meeting was on the failure of the two Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – to fully, properly, and, in a timely manner, implement the “Duty to Serve Underserved Markets” (DTS) mandate of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) and, most particularly, the implementation of DTS with respect to manufactured housing personal property loans. Both this meeting and its focus on the implementation of DTS are consistent with and pursuant to the directive of the MHARR Board of Directors, at its March 2019 meeting, for the Association to address and seek to advance key post-production issues, including discriminatory zoning and the availability of consumer financing for mainstream, HUD Code manufactured homes, among others.

MHARR stressed to the senior FHFA leadership present at the meeting, that more than a decade after congressional enactment of the DTS mandate, neither Fannie Mae nor Freddie Mac have provided securitization or secondary market support for a single manufactured housing personal property loan – a profound and inexcusable failure in view of the fact that such loans constitute approximately 80% of the manufactured housing consumer finance market according to U.S. Census Bureau data.  This failure not only limits the marketability and growth potential of mainstream HUD Code manufactured housing (which has seen a 10%-plus year-over-year decline to date during 2019) but, more importantly, harms moderate and lower-income consumers by stifling free-market competition within the HUD Code financing market and forcing such homebuyers into higher-interest loans. Even worse, while claiming an alleged “lack of data” as the basis for their long-term failure to provide support for the mainstream, HUD Code manufactured housing chattel financing market, both GSEs have ventured into programs for a supposed “new class” of manufactured home – costing as much as $220,000 – with, apparently, no data at all, thus continuing the pattern of overt discrimination against mainstream HUD Code homes and HUD Code consumers that Congress designed DTS to end.

Accordingly, MHARR emphasized the urgent need for the new FHFA leadership — consistent with President Trump’s express commitment to affordable homeownership, as reflected most recently by his Executive Order of June 25, 2019 regarding regulatory barriers to affordable housing – to put the full, proper and timely implementation of DTS back on track, for the benefit of the vast majority of manufactured housing consumers who utilize personal property financing to access the industry’s inherently affordable, mainstream homes, rather than prioritizing (as the GSEs’ have to date) far more costly market outliers (i.e., the so-called “new class” of manufactured homes) which tend to benefit only a few of the industry’s largest corporate conglomerates.  Moreover, with the next presidential election already looming large in Washington, D.C., MHARR stressed the need for rapid and targeted action to implement DTS for the benefit of the more than 80% of the HUD Code manufactured housing finance market that currently remains totally unserved by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. 

While the new FHFA leadership team stressed that there are multiple significant issues affecting the Agency, as the federal regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, they did recognize that DTS implementation needs to – and will be – addressed, consistent with proper risk management and other agency priorities. Based on the exchanges at this meeting, MHARR will continue to aggressively advance the full and proper implementation of all elements of DTS, but most particularly its application to manufactured housing personal property loans — which represent the vast bulk of consumer loans for mainstream, inherently affordable HUD Code homes, but still remain totally unserved by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac notwithstanding Congress’ DTS mandate.  At the same time, MHARR will continue to closely monitor DTS activity by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and will keep Congress fully informed as well, as the need for oversight of this entire matter continues to become more and more evident.  

cc:  HUD Code Industry Retailers, Communities and Finance Companies

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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: MHARR@MHARRPUBLICATIONS.COM

HUD Secretary’s New Role Should Help To Advance Manufactured Housing

Washington, D.C., July 9, 2019 –The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), in a June 28, 2019 communication to HUD Secretary Ben Carson (copy attached), has called on the Secretary to take strong action on four key matters relating to the availability, utilization and affordability of federally-regulated manufactured housing.

While praising Secretary Carson for his consistent and outspoken support for manufactured housing as a key resource in solving the nation’s affordable housing crisis, MHARR’s communication nevertheless emphasizes that specific, concrete progress is urgently needed to: (1) ensure that mainstream HUD Code manufactured housing is fully included in all federal and federally-funded housing programs through appropriate and legitimate action; (2) reform existing Federal Housing Administration (FHA) manufactured home consumer finance support programs (and particularly the Title I manufactured housing personal property finance program), to restore them to a market-significant level of activity; (3) begin the process of addressing and ultimately eliminating discriminatory zoning exclusions and limitations on manufactured housing; and (4) complete the full and final reform of the HUD manufactured housing program in accordance with the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000.

Given Secretary Carson’s recent appointment to chair the White House Council on Eliminating Barriers to Affordable Housing, pursuant to President Trump’s June 25, 2019 Executive Order, each of these matters should be addressed and resolved on a priority basis, both as a matter of fundamental regulatory reform, as targeted by the Trump Administration under Executive Orders 13771 and 13777 (and related administration policies), and as a necessary and essential step to remove existing regulatory barriers to the greater utilization, availability and affordability of the only type of housing to be comprehensively regulated by HUD itself.

In Washington, D.C., MHARR President and CEO, Mark Weiss, stated: “While MHRR and all involved in the HUD Code manufactured housing industry appreciate the support that Secretary Carson has repeatedly voiced for HUD-regulated manufactured housing, as well as his efforts to promote manufactured housing as an affordable housing resource for American families, there is much that remains to be addressed within HUD and beyond, in order to ensure equality and parity for manufactured homes in several crucial areas.  MHARR continues to urge the Secretary to lead on these matters, and the creation of the new White House Council provides a ready vehicle to achieve rapid and significant progress in all of these areas.” 

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

 

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HUD Code Production Decline Continues

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Washington, D.C., July 3, 2019 – The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) reports that according to official statistics compiled on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), year-over-year HUD Code manufactured home production declined again in May 2019. Just-released statistics indicate that HUD Code manufacturers produced 8,569 homes in May 2019, down 3.1% from the 8,846 homes produced in May 2018. Cumulative industry production for 2019 now totals 38,921 homes, a decline of 8.7% from the 42,639 HUD Code homes produced over the same period in 2018.

With nine consecutive months of production declines, it is apparent – as MHARR has been stressing – that post-production restrictions on the availability and utilization of HUD Code manufactured homes, including, but not limited to, the continuing lack of secondary market support for manufactured housing personal property loans and discriminatory zoning and placement restrictions, are stunting the industry’s growth and evolution, while denying affordable housing opportunities to millions of Americans. MHARR, therefore, will continue to aggressively advance efforts to raise the profile of these issues in Washington, D.C., as well as their resolution through the full and proper implementation of existing laws.

A further analysis of the official industry statistics shows that the top ten shipment states from the beginning of the industry production rebound in August 2011 through May 2019 — with cumulative, monthly, current year (2019) and prior year (2018) shipments per category as indicated — are:

HUD Code manufactured home production declined again in May 2019-Mobile

 

MHARR Cautions Congress on Two Unnecessary And Damaging Manufactured Home Bills

Washington, D.C., July 1, 2019 – The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) in a June 26, 2019 communication to both houses of Congress (copies attached), has called on legislators to take no action on pending proposed bills that are at best unnecessary and, at worst, harmful and damaging to both the mainstream HUD Code manufactured housing industry and the lower and moderate-income American families that rely on those homes for affordable homeownership.

These bills (S. 1804 in the Senate and H.R. 926 in the House), identically titled “The Manufactured Housing Modernization Act of 2019,” would create confusion in the manufactured housing marketplace, would confuse the federal regulatory structure of the industry, confuse the states and localities that regulate manufactured homes after they leave the factory, and depress the price and market value of existing, mainstream, HUD Code manufactured homes. MHARR’s communication, accordingly, details and explains each of these points, and urges Congress not to move forward with such legislation.  Instead, it offers suggested language that could easily be attached to any moving housing or consumer finance legislation, which would eliminate any negative unintended consequences.

In Washington, D.C., MHARR President and CEO, Mark Weiss, stated: “Congress, over many decades, has been very helpful to both the HUD Code industry and consumers of manufactured housing, which, in substantial part, is why mainstream, affordable, HUD Code manufactured housing has become one of the key solutions to the affordable housing crisis in the United States. Consequently, we believe that these bills are both sincere and well-intended by their sponsors.” Weiss continued, “unfortunately, though, they would unleash unintended consequences that would not only undermine the gains that the industry has made since the enactment of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000, but would ‘move the goalposts’ on the future use and acceptance of mainstream manufactured homes in ways that would be extremely damaging; thus MHARR’s suggested legislative language in lieu of these bills.”

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

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White House Announces Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers To Affordable Housing

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MHARR participated in a conference call on June 25, 2019, conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), during which White House officials announced the impending issuance of an Executive Order (EO) to create a “White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing.” While the substance of the EO – which, as detailed below, is fully consistent with and reflects MHARR policy objectives as advanced before the Administration, Congress and HUD – was described during the conference call, that call, as repeatedly emphasized by the same White House Officials, was specifically “off the record.” MHARR, in accordance with that request, withheld publication on this initiative until it was publicly announced and issued by the White House (see HUD Press Release attached).

Consistent with MHARR’s fundamental focus on the costs imposed by unnecessary and unreasonable regulatory mandates, as well as its more recent initiative and undertaking to combat discriminatory restrictive and exclusionary local zoning mandates that effectively ban HUD-regulated manufactured housing from large areas of the nation, the President’s Executive Order, specifically acknowledges that “federal, state [and] local … governments impose a multitude of regulatory barriers – laws, regulations and administrative practices – that hinder the development of housing.”  The EO then goes on to expressly recognize types of regulatory actions – which have been prioritized for action and opposition by MHARR — that continue to hinder both the affordability and availability of federally-regulated manufactured housing, stating: “These regulatory barriers include – overly restrictive zoning and growth management controls … excessive energy … efficiency mandates [and] outdated manufactured housing regulations and restrictions.”  (Emphasis added).

Indeed, the EO’s specific emphasis on zoning and other “outdated … restrictions” on federally-regulated manufactured housing is fully consistent with an April 24, 2019 communication from MHARR to Secretary Carson, calling on HUD to “utilize its resources to research, study and analyze such discriminatory and exclusionary zoning and its local and national impacts on the availability of affordable [manufactured] housing and homeownership in light of relevant national housing policies.” The same communication calls on HUD to exercise its authority under the enhanced federal preemption language of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 to either eliminate or limit such baseless restrictions.  And, indeed, in response to an inquiry from MHProNews Publisher L.A. Tony Kovach, it appears that the specific issue of federal preemption will be “on the table” in this process.

Under the EO, the White House Council will be chaired by Secretary Carson and will consist of representatives from eight federal agencies, including agencies that either currently regulate matters affecting manufactured housing – i.e., HUD and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – or seek to regulate aspects of manufactured housing – i.e., the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).  Among other things as set forth in the EO, the Council will seek to identify and then “reduce and streamline statutory, regulatory and administrative burdens at all levels of government that inhibit the development of affordable housing.”  This will lead to the development of specific initiatives designed to reduce the targeted federal, state and local regulatory barriers and a report to President Trump within the next twelve months regarding “the Council’s implementation of … this order.”

The EO, accordingly, presents a potentially unequalled opportunity for the specific advancement of policy objectives that MHARR has been tasked with advancing, including, but not limited to: (1) the full and complete implementation of all reform aspects of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000; (2) the elimination of unnecessary regulatory burdens imposed on manufactured housing and manufactured housing consumers by HUD in accordance with Executive Orders 13771 and 13777; (3) the elimination or modification of baseless and discriminatory zoning restrictions on manufactured housing, including both single lots and communities; and (4) other related issues involving regulatory impediments to the availability and affordability of HUD-regulated manufactured housing.

In addition, the initiative established by the EO underscores that recent legislation introduced in Congress to supposedly “modernize” manufactured housing – but which would, in reality, undermine and harm existing, inherently affordable HUD Code manufactured housing – is unnecessary and should not go forward, as set forth by MHARR in its June 24, 2019 Memorandum entitled “Unnecessary/Damaging Bills Introduced in Congress.”

MHARR will continue to keep you apprised of developments related to this important Administration initiative.

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Unnecessary/Damaging Bills Introduced in Congress

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MHARR, based on numerous inquiries from industry members, has conducted a study and investigation of parallel bills introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives, entitled the “HUD Manufactured Housing Modernization Act of 2019.”  The Senate version of the bill – S. 1804 – was filed on June 13, 2019. The House version – H.R. 926 – was filed in the current Congress on January 30, 2019, but was previously introduced by the same sponsor, Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA), in 2017 and has been closely monitored by MHARR since that time.

In MHARR’s opinion, while seemingly innocuous on their face and apparently well-intended by their respective congressional sponsors, these bills — being pressed behind-the-scenes by narrow special interests, both within and outside of the industry – are not only unnecessary, but could have profoundly damaging unintended consequences for both the mainstream HUD Code manufactured housing industry and the lower and moderate-income American families who rely on those mainstream manufactured homes as the nation’s premier source of affordable, non-subsidized homeownership.  Indeed, if enacted into law (in either the House or Senate form), these bills could ultimately undermine and destroy all of the gains, advancements, recognition and acceptance that the industry (and consumers) have achieved under the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 and the reforms within that law designed to transition manufactured homes from the “trailers” of yesteryear to modern, legitimate “housing” for all purposes.

And, in fact, it is because of the reforms mandated by the 2000 law, that recognition and acceptance of manufactured homes and the manufactured housing industry has become the norm among decision-makers in the nation’s capital, as demonstrated particularly (but not exclusively) by HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s accolades for manufactured housing as a major part of the solution to the nation’s affordable housing crisis. As explained below, however, these bills, if enacted, would: (1) undermine the progress that mainstream, affordable, HUD Code manufactured homes have made in Washington, D.C.; (2) would split the industry into a class of “high-end” homes and a de facto “second class” of mainstream, affordable homes that would once again be re-relegated to “trailer” status; and (3) effectively exclude such mainstream, affordable, HUD Code manufactured homes from any consideration for, or participation in, housing programs sponsored by the federal government – all for the benefit of a handful of corporate conglomerates.

Specifically, these bills — in light of recent developments concerning the Duty to Serve Underserved Markets (DTS) and the apparent effort by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, promoted by some in the industry, to divert DTS support to a supposed “new class” of pseudo-manufactured homes while providing no support whatsoever to existing, mainstream manufactured homes financed through personal property loans — appears to be tailored not only to legitimize the so-called “new class” of pseudo-manufactured home, but also to mandate government support for the utilization of that new class of home. The legislation, consequently, if enacted, would legally validate the discriminatory DTS policies adopted by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the establishment of two separate “classes” of “residential manufactured homes” — the new class of high-cost, site-built-like hybrid homes favored and prioritized for securitization and secondary market support by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on the one hand, and a “second class” comprised of existing, affordable, mainstream HUD Code manufactured homes on the other, with continued and worsening discrimination against the “second-class” of mainstream manufactured homes.

The legislation, if enacted, would thus sanitize and institutionalize the diversion of DTS support from mainstream manufactured housing to this so-called “new class” of home.  It would also simultaneously pave the way for local jurisdictions to utilize this “new class” of home – while in many, if not most cases, continuing to exclude and discriminate against mainstream, affordable HUD Code manufactured housing — in order to access HUD grants and other funding. The bills do this through a two-step process of effectively expanding the definition of “manufactured home” currently contained in federal law and then requiring the inclusion of homes meeting this expanded definition in the “Consolidated Plans” that jurisdictions must submit to HUD in order to receive federal funding under multiple HUD programs.

In relevant part, the bills direct HUD to “issue guidelines for jurisdictions relating to the appropriate inclusion of residential manufactured homes in a Consolidated Plan of the jurisdiction.” (Emphasis added). The term “Consolidated Plans,” as noted above, refers to “comprehensive housing affordability strategy and community development plans” required by HUD regulations for communities seeking federal funds under HUD’s formula grant programs, including Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) among many others. The definition of “residential manufactured home” contained in the bills, in turn, while referring to the definition of “manufactured home” contained in the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974, as amended by the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000, would nevertheless expand that definition by using the term “residential,” which is not contained or included in the existing federal law definition. The Senate bill, in addition refers to homes ‘used as a dwelling,” which differs from existing law which defines “manufactured homes” as being “designed to be used as a dwelling.” The bills, accordingly, would create a discrepancy between the existing definition of “manufactured home” and what does – or does not – constitute a “residential manufactured home,” potentially without any type of vetting, analysis or due consideration, that would elevate the so-called “new class” of home for use in every jurisdiction receiving HUD grants and other funding, while reducing mainstream, affordable HUD Code manufactured homes, once again, to second-class “trailer” status contrary to the 2000 reform law.

The bills, accordingly, pose a significant threat to existing, affordable, mainstream HUD Code manufactured housing and the lower and moderate-income families that rely upon those homes.  At a minimum, with their expanded definition of “residential manufactured home,” which is materially different from the definition already contained in federal manufactured housing law, the two bills, if enacted, would create immediate market confusion – particularly for existing HUD Code manufactured homes, homeowners, and purchasers that could further suppress the mainstream, affordable HUD Code market — and could lead to liability and litigation over just what does or does not constitute a “manufactured home” for purposes of federal regulation and a multitude of other issues. Consequently, MHARR does not and cannot support these bills and has already begun efforts in Congress (and at HUD) to expose the significant problems inherent in these bills and the major harm that they could – and likely would — cause for both consumers of mainstream, affordable  manufactured housing and the industry as a whole, but especially its smaller businesses.

Again, and in summary, these bills are unnecessary and potentially harmful, in that they:

  • Would perpetuate a negative connotation and image of existing, mainstream, HUD Code manufactured housing through their identical titles, which imply that manufactured homes are in need of “modernization” notwithstanding the sweeping institutional reforms of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000. In addition, these titles are misleading and inaccurate, in that the HUD program and the legal treatment of manufactured housing itself were already “modernized” by the 2000 reform law, after input from all stakeholders and the National Commission on Manufactured Housing;

 

  • Would, by changing the definition of what constitutes a “manufactured home,” create a substantial risk that the so-called “new class” of manufactured homes could lead to the establishment of a new baseline for all federal manufactured home standards, which would destroy the fundamental affordability of manufactured homes;

 

  • Would — even if it does not lead to more expansive and costly federal standards, as above — re-relegate existing, mainstream, affordable HUD Code manufactured homes to second-class “trailer” status;

 

  • Would undermine gains and advances made through and as a result of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 to elevate the status of mainstream, affordable manufactured homes to that of legitimate “housing” for all purposes (including federal and federally-sponsored housing programs);

 

  • Would legitimize and institutionalize continuing discrimination against mainstream, HUD Code manufactured home personal property loans under DTS;

 

  • Would legitimize and reinforce the discriminatory exclusion of mainstream, affordable HUD Code manufactured homes in jurisdictions seeking HUD grants and other related funding by effectively directing those jurisdictions instead to higher-cost, “new class,” hybrid-type homes;

 

  • Would direct HUD funding and grants to jurisdictions that continue to discriminate against and exclude mainstream, affordable HUD Code manufactured homes and manufactured housing residents;

 

  • Would create immediate market confusion, would further suppress the existing HUD Code manufactured housing market and depreciate the re-sale value of such mainstream, affordable manufactured homes;

 

  • Would benefit just a handful of industry conglomerates at the expense of smaller, independent industry businesses and the lower and moderate-income American homebuyers who rely on the affordability of mainstream HUD Code manufactured housing.

Consequently, rather than these bills, with their inconsistent language and potentially devastating consequences for mainstream, affordable HUD Code manufactured housing, MHARR will instead seek to advance language that could be included in any moving bill involving HUD or housing finance that would ensure equal, non-discriminatory treatment for all HUD Code manufactured housing in both HUD housing and community grant programs, and housing finance programs under the jurisdiction of HUD (i.e., the Federal Housing Administration and Ginnie Mae) and/or the Federal Housing Finance Agency (i.e., Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac).  It is worth noting that under the 2000 reform law, manufactured housing producers have – and have always – been capable of building homes with additional upgrades and features.  Thus, the MHARR-suggested language below.

That language, which MHARR has already started to provide to Congress, states:

  • “The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development shall provide for the inclusion of manufactured homes in all housing, federal housing assistance and community development programs and activities, including community development grants, administered by the Department, and shall ensure that any jurisdiction participating in any such program or applying to participate in any such program does not exclude or unreasonably restrict the placement of manufactured homes as defined by and regulated pursuant to the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974, as amended by the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (42 U.S.C. 5401, et seq.) within that jurisdiction.”

 

  • “The Federal Housing Finance Agency shall ensure that the Government Sponsored Enterprises provide securitization and secondary market support for loans to purchase manufactured homes regulated pursuant to the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974, as amended by the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (42 U.S.C. 5401, et seq.), including loans secured by manufactured homes titled as real estate and manufactured homes titled as personal property, on an equal basis with all other types of single-family homes.”

Such language, attached to any moving bill in Congress, would propel parity and equality between existing, mainstream, affordable HUD Code manufactured housing and all other types of housing, while simultaneously prohibiting discrimination against HUD Code housing (and manufactured homeowners) in vital areas.  By contrast, when the innocuous veneer of the pending bills is stripped away, it becomes apparent that they would do serious harm to existing, mainstream HUD Code manufactured housing and the lower and moderate-income American families who rely on the non-subsidized affordability of those homes.  Indeed, a thorough analysis, based on accurate and factual information, shows that congressional (and Administration – i.e., HUD) goodwill toward the industry is being diverted instead toward the benefit of extremely narrow special interests.  As a result, these bills should be unacceptable to the industry at large.  MHARR, for its part, will continue to disseminate accurate and factual information to educate and inform Congress, the Administration and other decision-makers of the potentially serious market disruptions that could result from such legislation, and how the positive and constructive intent of Congress toward mainstream, affordable HUD Code manufactured housing can best be advanced through the above language.

Please let us know if you have any questions or need any additional information regarding this matter.  We will continue to keep you apprised as new developments unfold.

 

 

 

 

MHARR Reiterates Call for DTS Investigation

Washington, D.C., June 18, 2019 – The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), in a June 13, 2019 communication to Fannie Mae Vice President Jonathan Lawless (copy attached), has reiterated its call for a congressional investigation into the failure of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to implement the statutory Duty to Serve Underserved Markets (DTS) in relation to manufactured home personal property (or “chattel”) loans.  Those loans, which provide consumers with the most affordable access to the nation’s most affordable non-subsidized homes, comprise nearly 80% of the manufactured consumer lending market.  Nearly 11 years after the enactment of DTS as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA), however, neither Fannie Mae nor Freddie Mac have purchased any manufactured housing personal property loans pursuant to that mandate – which expressly includes such personal property loans – let alone provided the type of market significant securitization and secondary market support that Congress envisioned.  Indeed, even an extremely limited and highly restricted “pilot program” for such loans has yet to materialize after nearly two years of empty promises, and is referred to by Fannie Mae as only a “potential” pilot program.

Instead of providing such crucial support for the largest single segment of the manufactured housing consumer lending market and mainstream, inherently affordable manufactured homes, as MHARR’s communication notes, both Fannie and Freddie have instead prioritized pilot programs for much higher-cost manufactured homes, as well as a supposed “new class” of manufactured homes with retail purchase prices as high as $220,000.00 – as contrasted with an average purchase of $71,900.00 for all types of existing, mainstream, HUD Code manufactured homes. Consequently, instead of expanding access to the industry’s most affordable mainstream homes, as DTS was designed to do, both Fannie and Freddie continue to discriminate against mainstream manufactured housing and mainstream manufactured housing purchasers, effectively forcing them into higher-interest loans offered by the finance subsidiaries of the industry’s largest corporate conglomerates, while stifling the recovery and market growth of the manufactured housing industry during a prolonged affordable housing crisis.  Indeed, this type of sustained institutional resistance to the full and proper implementation of DTS and the resulting ongoing discrimination against lower and moderate-income consumers of manufactured housing is, in substantial part, an outgrowth of the continuing failure of the industry’s post-production sector – dominated by the industry’s largest corporate conglomerates – to demand full compliance with DTS for manufactured housing.

Based, therefore, on the lack of any significant progress toward the market-significant implementation of DTS with respect to the vast bulk of the manufactured housing consumer financing market and apparent diversion of DTS activity into new, higher-cost types of hybrid manufactured homes, MHARR has called for a congressional investigation of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and their federal regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), with respect to unconscionable and unnecessary delays in the implementation of DTS for mainstream, HUD Code manufactured housing.

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

 

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“Time to Investigate Fannie And Freddie’s Mishandling Of DTS”

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It’s been more than ten years since Congress enacted the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) and its “Duty to Serve Underserved Markets” (DTS) mandate.  DTS directs both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to “develop loan products and flexible underwriting guidelines to facilitate a secondary market for mortgages on manufactured homes for very low, low and moderate-income families.” Insofar as it expressly authorizes programs for both real estate and personal property (chattel) manufactured housing consumer loans, DTS was – and always has been – aimed at increasing the availability (and lowering the cost) of purchase-money financing for mainstreamaffordable manufactured homes by providing securitization support for lenders, which would lower their credit risk, while promoting greater market competition, which would also result in lower borrowing costs for consumers. That laudable objective, however, has not been achieved, and with the industry now in an eight-month sustained production decline, DTS remains a nearly empty shell, leaving the 80% of the manufactured housing consumer finance market that relies on personal property loans totally unserved, while scarce – and badly needed – DTS resources are diverted to programs that do nothing for mainstream manufactured housing consumers, but dobenefit a handful of the industry’s largest corporate conglomerates. This “hijacking” of DTS, with the knowledge and support of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, deserves a thorough investigation by Congress and full accountability for those involved.

Put simply, DTS was never designed to be a corporate welfare program for the industry’s largest conglomerates. But that is exactly what it’s becoming, as a result of its botched implementation by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (with a “wink and a nod” from their federal regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency – FHFA), and its diversion away from the mainstream, affordable manufactured homes produced by all HUD Code industry manufacturers, in favor of high-dollar, hybrid-type homes that are produced by only one or, at most, just a handful of manufacturers.  As usual, the winners in this fiasco (thus far) are certain well-heeled, well-connected industry conglomerates that play to the pre-existing prejudices of Fannie and Freddie, while the “losers” are the rest of the HUD Code industry and the millions of lower and moderate-income American families that could otherwise be helped by DTS to purchase and own a home of their own.

The factual analysis leading to these conclusions is, in actuality, simple, straightforward and fundamentally undisputed. Start with a basic undisputed fact, as confirmed by federal government data.  That is — as shown by U.S. Census Bureau housing market data — that some 76% of all HUD Code manufactured housing placements in 2017 (the most recent year for which such data is available), were titled as personal property (i.e., chattel). While not necessarily representing a one hundred-percent direct correlation, this data effectively means that something close to three-quarters of the manufactured homes purchased in 2017 were financed as personal property, while only 17% of all manufactured homes that year were titled – and presumably purchased and financed – as real property. This division between personal property-based placement and financing on the one hand, and real estate-based placement and financing on the other, has remained relatively constant in recent years, moreover, with the proportion of personal property placements varying between 76% and 80%, while real estate placements varied between 13% and 17%. Thus, there can be no actual or legitimate dispute that the vast bulk of the manufactured homes purchased by lower and moderate-income American families, are served by personal property-based chattel financing.

Nor is this – or should this — be a surprise to anyone.  While manufactured housing personal property loans generally carry a higher interest rate than real estate-based loans, due, in part, to the absence of land as security for the lender, personal property loans, using the home itself as the sole security for the lender, cost less overall than real estate loans which include the purchase cost of the land underlying the home.  As a result, personal property loans have tended to be favored by lower and moderate-income consumers, including consumers who might otherwise be unable to afford a home of their own. That is, with an average sales price of $48,300.00 without land (in 2017) a single-section manufactured home would cost far less to purchase and finance than either an average site-built home with land (with an average combined sales price of $384,900.00) ora single-section manufactured home with land, which, according to the same data, could add something on the order of $90,000.00 to the structural price of the home itself.  Consequently, even with higher borrowing costs for chattel loans (resulting from higher interest rates), such loans on HUD Code manufactured homes nevertheless represent – and have always represented – the most affordable route to homeownership for any American anywhere in the United States.

Given this basic, undisputed data, the most direct route to fulfilling the promise and mandate of DTS – i.e., putting more lower and moderate-income American families into homes that they can truly and legitimately afford – would be for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to provide market-significant securitization and secondary market support for the manufactured housing personal property consumer lending market, as MHARR has always maintained. This is where the vast majority of manufactured housing purchasers are, and where the vast majority of lower and moderate-income manufactured housing purchasers are. And, not to overstate the point, these are the very people that Fannie and Freddie should be serving and, in fact, were created to serve, and are directed to serve by their respective charters and authorizing legislation.

But Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have no interest in serving the type of housing consumers served by mainstream manufactured housing. Thus, they have no interest in providing securitization and secondary market support for mainstream, chattel-financed manufactured housing.  If they did have such an interest, and had been serving the mainstream manufactured housing market all along, DTS would not have been necessary and would not have been enacted by Congress.  What need would there be for a remedy – such as DTS — if there was no problem to begin with?  Conversely, the fact that Congress felt the need to enact a remedy shows that there was, in fact, a problem with Fannie and Freddie’s treatment of manufactured housing consumers. But Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, aided by FHFA and some within the industry, have worked overtime to circumvent that remedy, while they continue to discriminate against lower and moderate-income manufactured American families that seek to purchase a truly affordable, mainstream manufactured home. At the same time, Fannie and Freddie talkabout support for the mainstream manufactured housing market while, in fact, doing no such thing.

How do we know this?  Again, “facts are stubborn things.”  To start with, the reality is that neither Fannie Mae nor Freddie Mac has yet to implement even a “pilot program” for manufactured home chattel loans, some 11 years after the enactment of DTS.  A May 23, 2019 letter from Fannie Mae Vice President Jonathon Lawless to MHARR thus refers only to a “potential” manufactured housing personal property “pilot” program. And forget any kind of market-significant support for the predominate type of manufactured home consumer lending in the United States. In fact, according to sources, Fannie and Freddie have yet to provide market support for anymanufactured home consumer personal property loans under DTS – a point effectively confirmed by Mr. Lawless, whose May 2019 letter states that Fannie Mae’s DTS Plan “has never called for [the] immediate purchase and securitization of these [personal property] loans.”

And what are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac doing instead?  Rather than providing the type of market support that is desperately needed to expand the availability and affordability of mainstream manufactured homes for lower and moderate-income purchasers – what they should be doing under DTS – Fannie and Freddie instead, are offering support for the types of “manufactured homes” that theywant to see and promote; not mainstream, affordable, HUD Code manufactured homes, but “manufactured homes” that are more like the far more costly site-built homes that Fannie and Freddie are accustomed to dealing with. Thus, in a January 14, 2019 article entitled “Delivering on Our Affordable Housing Mission Under Duty to Serve” (and there are manymore such examples), Fannie Mae Executive Vice President Jeffrey Hayward refers to “manufactured homes” constructed in accordance with Fannie’s “MH Advantage” program – for manufactured homes titled as real estate (not chattel) – as being “similar to site-built homes.”  And, of course, this is – and remains – Fannie and Freddie’s central criterion in providing support for “manufactured homes” – i.e., they cannot be mainstream (and therefore affordable) manufactured homes but, instead, must be “similar to [the] site-built homes” that Fannie and Freddie are used to dealing with, and thus are within their pre-existing “comfort zone.”

It’s the same thing with the so-called “new class” of manufactured homes.  These homes are described (and specified) as being more like site-built homes – or a hybrid between site-built homes and manufactured homes.  As a result, they are projected to cost significantly more than an “average” mainstream manufactured home – up to approximately $220,000.00 as compared with an “average” (2017) price of $71,900.00 for all mainstream manufactured homes (i.e., both single and multi-section) — and are simply not the type of affordable, non-subsidized affordable housing resource that is provided by mainstream manufactured housing; meaning, again, that they would appeal – and be marketed to – the more “upscale” consumers that Fannie and Freddie would prefer to deal with.

And just as long as we’re on the subject, what type of loan performance data exits to support the creation of a special program for this supposed “new class” of manufactured home (or “MH Advantage” homes for that matter)? For more than a decade, Fannie and Freddie have refused to provide anytype of DTS support for mainstream manufactured housing personal property loans, citing a lack of “performance data” to justify entry into that market. So, if the availability of “performance data” is thus a prerequisite for market support from Fannie and Freddie under DTS, what type of “performance data” do Fannie or Freddie have for an entirely “new class” of home?

Assuming that the meaning of “new” hasn’t changed recently, “new” means “not done before.” And, if “new” still means “new,” then it also means, by definition, that there is nopre-existing loan performance data for that “new” class of home – because it’s … well … “new.” So, for the 80% of the existing, mainstream manufactured housing market financed through chattel loans, no performance data means no DTS support. It means not even a measly “pilot program” after 11 years. But for a “new” class of higher-cost home, being pursued by just a few of the industry’s largest conglomerates (if that many), no performance data means a ticket to instant Fannie and Freddie support – even though there is not one word about a “new class” of manufactured homes or a pilot program for a “new class” of manufactured homes in the DTS implementation plans filed by Fannie and Freddie and approved by FHFA in 2018.  And all of this comes to you courtesy of the same people who nearly crashed the world economy by backstopping trillions of dollars in “subprime” loans on homes that borrowers could not legitimately afford.

The reality is that DTS is in the process of being “hijacked” by special interests. It is being diverted from its primary, essential and crucial mission with regard to manufactured housing – to expand the availability of consumer loans for mainstream manufactured housing; to bring more lenders into the market; and to lower the (interest) cost of mainstream manufactured home consumer loans through increased competition and risk reduction for lenders. Fannie and Freddie’s treatment and botched implementation of DTS is an ongoing farce for the industry and an ongoing tragedy for lower and moderate-income Americans who simply wish to purchase a home of their own, but continue to be subjected to flat-out discrimination, in open defiance of Congress and with a knowing, and apparently intentional pass from FHFA. The time has come, therefore, for Congress to re-involve itself in this matter, to conduct a thorough and probing investigation of DTS with respect to manufactured housing, and see to it that the DTS directive is enforced and implemented now, not “honored” in the breach.

Mark Weiss
MHARR is a Washington, D.C.-based national trade association representing the views and interests of independent producers of federally-regulated manufactured housing.

“MHARR-Issues and Perspectives” is available for re-publication in full (i.e., without alteration or substantive modification) without further permission and with proper attribution to MHARR

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HUD Code Production Decline Continues But Moderates

HUD Code Production Decline Continues But Moderates

Washington, D.C., June 3, 2019 – The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) reports that according to official statistics compiled on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), year-over-year HUD Code manufactured home production declined again in April 2019, albeit at a moderating pace. Just-released statistics indicate that HUD Code manufacturers produced 7,993 homes in April 2019, down 3.2% from the 8,262 homes produced in April 2018. Cumulative industry production for 2019 now totals 30,352 homes, a decline of 10.1% from the 33,793 HUD Code homes produced over the same period in 2018.

While the production statistics for April 2019 show a moderation in the double-digit production decline that has thus far characterized 2019, the fact that there is any production decline at allin the face of continuing strong demand for affordable housing and homeownership highlights the failure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – thus far – to implement the Duty to Serve Underserved Markets (DTS), particularly with respect to the personal property loans which account for nearly 80% of the manufactured housing consumer finance market. That failure, more than a decade after the enactment of DTS, effectively forces consumers into higher-rate loans that cost more than would be the case if there was, in fact, proper, market-significant DTS securitization and secondary market support, which would lower risks for lenders and promote greater competition within the HUD Code consumer finance market.  This, in turn, needlessly excludes potential buyers from the HUD Code market altogether, while making it more difficult for others to finance the purchase of a HUD Code home, both of which suppress overall market volume.  As more and more questions are being raised in Washington, D.C. by the press, government figures and others regarding such issues, it is becoming increasingly apparent that this matter can, should and must be looked-into further.

A further analysis of the official industry statistics shows that the top ten shipment states from the beginning of the industry production rebound in August 2011 through April 2019 — with cumulative, monthly, current year (2019) and prior year (2018) shipments per category as indicated — are:

HUD Code Production Decline Continues But Moderates

The latest information for April 2019 results in no changes to the cumulative shipments list.

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

Brief History and Objectives of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR)

ABriefHistoryObjectivesOfManufacturedHousingAssociationForRegulatoryReformLogoMHARRlogo-2

The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) was established on July 3, 1985 as the “Association for Regulatory Reform” (ARR). The Association changed to its current name in the summer of 1997.

Based in Washington D.C. since its founding, MHARR was formed to represent the views and interests of producers of manufactured housing. A major source of the nation’s supply of non-subsidized affordable homes, the manufactured housing industry is federally regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)   — the only segment of the housing industry to be regulated at the federal level. MHARR is dedicated to maintaining a regulatory framework which promotes both the availability and affordability of manufactured housing — an objective now enshrined in federal law thanks to the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000, which MHARR successfully sought, promoted and advanced to enactment. Its primary and enduring mission is to protect, defend and advance the interests of its members and the manufactured housing lifestyle for American consumers of affordable housing.

Since MHARR’s establishment, the production of manufactured housing has become increasingly competitive and complex. As the industry has matured, numerous state and federal agencies have sought to impose rules and regulations that could significantly impact its cost and availability as a prime non-subsidized housing resource for Americans at every rung of the financial ladder.

Within the industry, the voice of manufacturers — the segment of the industry most directly affected by federal regulation — has tended to be merged with that of other segments of the industry, including retailers, suppliers, finance companies and community developers. Each such segment has its own specific interests and perspective, but unless manufacturers’ views can be articulated, published and advocated independently, the representation of those views is unavoidably weakened by being merged into an “umbrella” representation, which necessarily must be the lowest common denominator among various diverse segments of the industry.

The industry has also witnessed the emergence of a new type of manufacturer with large retailer and financing affiliates. That segment of the industry may also have different needs than smaller and medium-sized independent manufactures. Consequently, the primary objective of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform is to enunciate the consensus view of manufacturers, so that their experience, understanding and approach will be considered in the formulation of any law, rule standard or regulation that is imposed on the industry.

Necessarily, though, the interests of manufacturers – and consumers – are unavoidably impacted by activity and developments affecting the post-production sector of the industry (i.e., activity and developments affecting manufactured homes and consumers once such homes leave the factory). Such activity – by government or quasi-governmental actors – can negatively impact both the utilization and availability of manufactured homes for large segments of the public and can significantly constrain that availability, to the extreme detriment of all concerned. Current examples of this phenomenon include the failure of the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) to provide securitization and secondary market support for manufactured home loans in accordance with existing law and discriminatory and exclusionary zoning and placement restrictions on manufactured homes in many more densely-populated areas of the United States.  Because of this indisputable reality and the fact that the long-term absence of any type of independent, dedicated national representation for the industry’s post-production sector has allowed such problems to multiply and fester, MHARR has taken (and will continue to take) the lead on these matters as well.

Ultimately, though, it is axiomatic that there is no regulation without economic cost — particularly for a federally regulated industry. That cost, inevitably, will be passed on to the purchaser. Overall, therefore, MHARR seeks an improved environment for the growth of the industry and for the availability of affordable manufactured housing to American consumers through fair, reasonable and cost-effective federal regulation. Furthermore, the Association is dedicated to reassessing all existing regulations periodically to determine their cost, merit and relevance, and to measuring each new law and regulation against the same criteria, with the principal objective of protecting manufactured housing consumers while simultaneously ensuring the continuing availability of safe, affordable, non-subsidized manufactured homes.