“A HUD MONITORING CONTRACT ‘BRIDGE TO NOWHERE’”

A HUD MONITORING CONTRACT BRIDGE TO NOWHERE

Let’s start off with a truism. And that truism, quite simply, is that within the HUD manufactured housing program, the so-called “monitoring” function has grown, expanded and metamorphosized over time, to become something that it was never meant, designed or intended to be, with a private contractor exercising defactogovernmental authority over regulated parties. Of course, HUD claims (and protests loudly whenever confronted) that ithas the final say, and the final authority on all regulatory matters, and that, as a result, everything is perfectly legitimate. But the reality, for decades – in fact, since the very inceptionof the HUD program more than forty years ago – has been quite different.

A detailed review and analysis of the last monitoring contract by MHARR (see, MHARR Viewpoint, October 2015, “Monitoring Contractor’s Domination of Federal Program Must End”), shows quite clearly that the program monitoring contractor is (and has been) tasked by HUD with the performance of pseudo-governmental functions, and rendering what amount to final decisions on discretionary enforcement matters, often with no substantive involvement by responsible HUD officials at all. And driving the inexorable expansion of contractor functions over time, the inexorable expansion of related regulatory burdens and costs imposed on regulated parties, and, not surprisingly, corresponding increases in monitoring contractor revenues — has been a defacto, HUD-sustained monopoly on the program monitoring contract by just one entity (the Institute for Building Safety and Technology, “IBTS,” previously named the National Conference of States on Building Codes and Standards, “NCSBCS” and Housing and Building Technology, “HBT”).

For any of the Trump Administration’s regulatory reform agenda to have a real or lasting impact on the federal manufactured housing program, however, the Administration’s political leadership at HUD mustassert itself, the 40-year-plus monitoring contract monopoly mustbe ended, and the contracting process itself mustbe reformed in order to produce full and fair competition, as required by law throughout the federal government. Sadly, though, after a seemingly promising start, concern is growing that this particular aspect of “draining the swamp” could be starting to backslide in the wrong direction – unless, that is, the entireindustry and consumers take action to stop the slide.

Why is the monitoring contract so important? Well, the Trump Administration and Secretary Carson have taken a number of important steps to startthe process of reforming the federal program, and to bring it back to what Congress and the law – particularly the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 – designed it to be, a preemptive program of minimum performance-based standards and uniform enforcement that protects consumers while simultaneously preserving, protecting and advancing the inherent (i.e., non-subsidized) affordability of manufactured homes. At MHARR’s specific urging, the Trump Administration, in late 2017, replaced and re-assigned the over-reaching career administrator of the HUD program, Pamela Danner. Shortly thereafter, again as advanced by MHARR, HUD began a “top-to-bottom” review of all existing (and proposed) HUD standards, regulations, and pseudo-regulatory action (such as “Interpretive Bulletins” and “Field Guidance” documents), incident to concurrent rulings by the Attorney General that the Justice Department would not undertake enforcement actions in federal court based on such “pseudo-regulatory” guidance documents.

Both of these actions represented necessary first-stepsto begin the process of restoring the rule of law – and common-sense – to the federal program, consistent with the express statutory purposes of the 2000 reform law. The job, though, does not end with initiating a “process.” “Process,” in and of itself, is not a goal. Positive, substantivechange within the program and for both the industry and its consumers is the goal. For genuine progress, the program administrator’s position, for example, must now be filled by a non-career appointee, as required by the 2000 reform law, andthe regulatory reform process initiated under Trump Administration Executive Orders 13771 and 13777 must lead to substantive action by the Administration to repeal (or significantly modify) layer-upon-layer of unnecessary and debilitating regulations, interpretations, and pseudo-regulations, developed and imposed over time with little or – in most cases – noconsideration for their impact on the cost of manufactured housing or the ability of lower and moderate-income American families to purchase a manufactured home.

As important as those steps are, though – and ultimately could be with proper follow-through – real, on the ground, and lastingchange for the federal program will require a fundamental shift in the way that the program does business with respect to the monitoring function, including the monitoring contract itself, the nature and scope of the monitoring function, and ultimately, hiring a new program monitoring contractor after 40-plus years of defactomonopoly.

Thatdefactomonopoly, for which MHARR has been unable to find anyparallel anywhere else in the federal government, is the most compelling and probative evidence that the HUD monitoring contract process itself is entirely dysfunctional. While repeated monitoring contract procurements at HUD, since the inception of the federal manufactured housing program, have allegedlybeen “competitive” in nature (as defined by federal law), and have been conducted asallegedlycompetitive procurements (i.e., without the formal protections required by law for non-competitive, sole-source contract solicitations), the facts show this to be patently false (and arguably fraudulent). Instead, based on HUD contract “award criteria” that, through successive solicitations, have been tailored to match the “experience” of the one and only entity to ever hold the contract – i.e., NCSBCS/HBT/IBTS – the monitoring contract procurement, through its entire history, has been a defactosole-source procurement without any type of meaningful, actual or legitimate competition.

Indeed, on the one occasion when a competing bid, lower than that of the one-and-only monitoring contractor –IBTS — wassubmitted, nearly three decades ago, by a highly-respected and credible code organization (i.e., the former Council of American Building Officials – “CABO” — now, the International Code Council – “ICC”), HUD, rather than awarding the contract to another entity, initiated a “best and final” round of revised offers, which ultimately led to an award, once again, to the one-and-only monitoring contractor — IBTS — (as shown by documents grudgingly provided by HUD to Congress after multiple requests by former North Carolina Senator Lauch Faircloth).

This contract manipulation and the resulting domination of the program over the course of its existence by oneentrenched, self-servingcontractor, has had a ruinous effect on the HUD manufactured housing program, the industry itself and consumers in particular, as the purchase price of manufactured homes has needlessly been inflated by unnecessary, unjustified and baseless expansions of regulatory compliance burdens at the initiative and behest of the entrenched monitoring contractor. Indeed, detailed MHARR analyses have demonstrated how HUD payments to the monitoring contractor have ballooned over the past decade in particular (to more than $25 million in the last five-year contract), even as industry production levels have fallen to historic lows and referrals to the HUD dispute resolution system (reflecting unresolved consumer issues in new HUD Code homes) have been – and remain – at microscopic levels, well below 1% of corresponding industry production over the same period.

The needless regulatory costs and burdens imposed because of the contractor, moreover, disproportionatelyimpact and harm smaller industry businesses (and consumers of affordable housing) while conversely benefitting the industry’s largest producers, which can spread spurious pseudo-regulatory costs over a larger base of production. It should thus be no surprise that you will hear little or nothing about this issue from other industry organizations, which are beholden to the support of those larger entities.

Recognizing this as a major structural and policy problem within the federal program — as a result of education efforts by MHARR — Congress, in the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000, attempted to halt this manipulation of the HUD contracting process. Remedial provisions thus inserted in the 2000 reform law by Congress included, among other things, a mandate for an appointed, non-career program administrator, a requirement for “separate and independent” contractors for monitoring and other functions, a narrow and limited definition of the “monitoring” function (i.e., the “periodic review of the primary inspection agencies … for the purpose of ensuring that [they] are discharging their duties under” the 1974 Act as amended), and a requirement – in section 604(b)(6) – for notice and comment rulemaking and Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) review and approval for all changes to HUD policies, practices and procedures concerning enforcement-related activities.

HUD, though, over the past two decades, has either totally ignored, unduly restricted, or chipped awayat these safeguards, effectively neutering Congress’ effort to restore standards and accountability to the monitoring contract process. HUD has thus not only failed to protect the industry’s smaller businesses (and consumers of affordable housing) from regulatory excesses and abuses, but has actually undermined one of the primarypurposes of the 2000 reform law.

Nevertheless, there were indications, in 2017, that HUD, under Secretary Carson, would begin to reform this process and actually conduct a legitimate procurement for the monitoring function. This included an “Industry Day” meeting for prospective bidders in November 2017 and the division of the monitoring contract into design and production monitoring functions. Now, though, there is disconcerting evidence that HUD could be backsliding on this essential program reform. Specifically, MHARR has learned that the last IBTS monitoring contract, which was due to expire in August 2018, instead of being replacedwith a new, genuinely competitive contract, has instead been extendedfor (at least) one year through a no-bid, sole-source, so-called “bridge” contract.

As objectionable and damaging as this is in itself, for continuing – on a dejurebasis – HUD’s addiction to sole-source procurements for this function, the official HUD “Justification for Other than Full and Open Competition” (Justification Document) for this contract, actually lauds the entrenched incumbent contractor in ways that could indicate that there will be no “full and open” competition for the full-term monitoring contract that succeeds the alleged “bridge” contract. For example, the Justification Document states, among other things: “the depth and breadth of knowledge demonstrated by the contractor [i.e., IBTS] during the performance of the current contract makes them uniquely qualifiedto perform services during the 12-month bridge. *** The contractor’s experience is uniquebecause the contractor has extensive knowledge of working with HUD’s national building code 924 C.F.R. 3280) in areas of code administration and enforcement for several decades.” (Emphasis added).

Such language – coupled with the no-bid, sole-source “bridge” contract itself – indicate that HUD could well have no intention of conducting a legitimate, competitive solicitation for the next monitoring contract that will “drain the swamp” of 40-plus years of abuse. Indeed, such accolades for the entrenched incumbent could become a self-fulfilling prophecy, discouraging other bidders from even competing for the contract, thereby continuing and reinforcing HUD’s multiple violations of applicable law (again, MHARR has searched for, but has been unable to locate, anysimilar instance of such a 40-year-plus dependence on one entrenched defactosole-source contractor) and undermining Secretary Carson’s effort to reform the manufactured housing program. Indeed, legitimate competition, a new monitoring contractor and a monitoring contract that complies with substantive law regarding the limited nature of the monitoring function, are essentialto the successful implementation of any such reforms.

This no-bid, sole-source “bridge” contract is — and should be — totally unacceptable to the entireindustry, and particularly its smaller businesses, as well as consumers of affordable housing.

If the HUD monitoring contract “swamp” is to be “drained,” the time for complying with the law – and finally ensuring full and fair competition for the program monitoring contract – is, emphatically, now.

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.

Financial Services Chairman Calls for End of GSEs

FinancialServicesChairmanJebHensarlingCallsForEndofGovernmentSponsoredEnterprisesGSEsManufacturedHousingAssociationRegulatoryReformMHARR

NOVEMBER 6, 2018
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), retiring Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has called for an end to the two Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – and the repeal of their federal government charters.

In a Press Release (copy attached) issued on November 2, 2018, the Chairman of the House Committee with oversight responsibility for the GSEs’ federal regulator – the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) – and, by extension, the GSEs themselves, called the “GSE model a failure,” and asserted that “it is time for it to [be] end[ed]” through “meaningful housing finance reform legislation that protects taxpayers, encourages greater private sector participation, and once and for all … repeals the GSEs’ government charters.”

Perhaps nowhere else has the GSEs’ failure to comply with their respective charters — and their failure to serve the lower and moderate-income homebuyers that they were specifically created to help – had a more profoundly negative impact than in the manufactured housing market and, most especially, the 80% of the manufactured housing market comprised of personal property, or “chattel” loans.

Even in the face of an express statutory directive from Congress to finally begin serving the manufactured housing market, including the chattel loans relied upon to finance the industry’s most affordable homes (i.e., the “Duty to Serve Underserved Markets” mandate of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008), the GSEs – which for decades have refused to provide securitization or secondary market support for manufactured housing loans – have remained defiant and non-compliant, refusing to provide any level of market-significant support for the vast bulk of manufactured home chattel loans. The resulting harm to lower and moderate-income American homebuyers, in the form of either total exclusion from the housing market or higher interest rates than would be the case otherwise, is indefensible and should be unacceptable to the industry, Congress and FHFA.  Moreover, these extreme negative impacts have been facilitated and exacerbated by the absence of independent, national representation for the industry’s post-production sector in the nation’s capital to aggressively address this matter, not only with FHFA and the GSEs, but with Congress and the Administration as well.

Accordingly, regardless of whether the House of Representatives, following today’s election, is controlled by Democrats or Republicans, the underlying failure of the GSEs and the “GSE model” has been exposed, and the GSEs’ continuing failure to properly serve the manufactured housing chattel market – despite the DTS mandate — will be a major issue going forward, potentially providing the industry’s post-production sector with a second chance to ensure that securitization and secondary market support for manufactured housing and manufactured home chattel loans are provided by the GSEs on a market-significant basis.

This issue will be discussed in more detail at MHARR’s upcoming Board of Directors meeting.

September 2018 Manufactured Home Production Data Shows Slight Flatline

September2018HUDCodeManufacturedHousingAssociationRegulatoryReformmMHARRLogoData

Washington, D.C., November 6, 2018 – 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), HUD Code manufactured home production flat-lined slightly in September 2018. Just-released statistics indicate that HUD Code manufacturers produced 7,519 homes in September 2018, a 0.8% decline from the 7,580 HUD Code homes produced during September 2017. Cumulative industry production for 2018 now totals 74,207 homes, an 8.4% increase over the 68,419 HUD Code homes produced over the same period in 2017.

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 September 2018  — with cumulative, monthly, current year (2018) and prior year (2017) shipments per category as indicated — are:

StateCumulativeCurrent Month (Sep. 2018)20182017
Texas82,378 homes1,45914,50311,692
Louisiana31,394 homes3723,8074,383
Florida26,695 homes5835,3474,474
Alabama19,511 homes2683,8204,221
N.C18,293 homes2913,3923,006
Mississippi16,607 homes2672,8382,716
California16,208 homes3162,9932,778
Michigan15,081 homes3203,0643,672
Kentucky14,889 homes2472,1902,385
Tennessee12,781 homes2002,1791,962

The latest information for September 2018, does not result in any changes to the cumulative top-ten 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.

MHARR Communication with HUD Assistant Secretary Brian Montgomery Regarding Program Monitoring Contract

BrianMontgomeryAstHUDSecretaryFHAOfficialPhotoHUDLogoMHARRlogoCommunicationMonitoringContractManufacturedHousingAssocRegulatoryReform

October 26, 2018

VIA FEDERAL EXPRESS

Hon. Brian Montgomery
Assistant Secretary
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Suite 9100
451 7thStreet, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20410
Re: Manufactured Housing Program Monitoring Contract

Dear Secretary Montgomery:

As the national representative organization for small businesses within the comprehensively-regulated manufactured housing industry, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) continuously monitors regulatory and regulation-related matters that could negatively impact the purchase affordability of manufactured homes – the nation’s premiere source of inherently affordable, non-subsidized homeownership.

Given this core mission, MHARR has been gratified by the actions undertaken by President Trump since his inauguration – and by Secretary Carson – to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens at HUD, including those imposed on the nation’s manufactured housing producers. That said, however, MHARR has begun to observe, in recent months, what appears to be backsliding within the manufactured housing program, away from the full implementation of the regulatory reform policies exemplified by Executive Orders 13771 and 13777, and toward a return to the type of baseless, unwarranted and excessively costly regulatory excesses and abuses that characterized the program under previous administrations. In particular, there is an extremely serious and damaging aspect of that activity that warrants your personal involvement and intervention.

Specifically, as you are aware from your previous tenure at HUD, contracting processes within the federal manufactured housing program – and particularly the contracting process for the program “monitoring” contract, a statutorily defined and circumscribed function – have been dysfunctional at best and unlawful at worst. For the entire40-year-plus history of the federal program, the enforcement “monitoring” contract has been awarded to onecontractor, albeit under different organizational names. Although allegedly a “competitive” procurement, the facts show this is to be false. Instead, based on HUD contract “award criteria” that, through successive procurements, have been tailored to match the “experience” of the one and only incumbent contractor – i.e., the Institute for Building Technology and Safety (IBTS) but previously named the National Conference of States on Building Codes and Standards (NCSBCS) and “Housing and Building Technology” (HBT) – this procurement, through its entire history, has been a defactosole-source procurement without competing bidders, without any type of meaningful, actual or legitimate competition, and without anyof the safeguards required by law and applicable regulations for sole-source contracting.

Indeed, on the one occasion when a competing bid, lower than that of IBTS, wassubmitted, nearly three decades ago, by a highly-respected and credible code organization (i.e., the former Council of American Building Officials – “CABO,” now, the International Code Council – “ICC”), HUD, rather than awarding the contract to another entity, initiated a “best and final” bidding round, which ultimately led to an award – once again – to IBTS (as shown by documents provided Congress after multiple requests).

This contract manipulation and the resulting domination of the program over the course of its existence by oneentrenched, self-servingcontractor — which has effectively been delegated discretionary government authority in violation of federal law — has had a ruinous effect on the HUD manufactured housing program, the industry itself and consumers in particular, as the purchase price of manufactured homes has needlessly been inflated by the unnecessary, unjustified and baseless expansion of regulatory compliance burdens at the initiative and behest of the entrenched monitoring contractor. Indeed, detailed MHARR analyses have demonstrated how HUD payments to the monitoring contractor have ballooned over the past decade in particular (to more than $25 million in the last five-year contract), even as industry production levels have fallen to historic low levels and referrals to the HUD dispute resolution system (reflecting unresolved consumer issues in new HUD Code homes) have been – and remain – at microscopic levels, well below 1% of corresponding industry production over the same period. The needless regulatory costs and burdens imposed by the contractor, moreover, disproportionatelyimpact and harm smaller industry businesses (and consumers of affordable housing) while benefitting the industry’s largest producers, which can spread spurious pseudo-regulatory costs over a larger base of production. It should thus be no surprise that you will hear nothing about this issue from other industry organizations, which are beholden to the support of those larger entities.

Although Congress, in the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 attempted to halt this manipulation of the HUD contracting process and the resultant domination of the federal program by the entrenched contractor through, among other things, its mandate for an appointed, non-career program administrator, its requirement for “separate and independent” contractors for monitoring and other functions, its narrow and limited definition of the “monitoring” function, and its requirement – in section 604(b)(6) – for notice and comment rulemaking and Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee review and approval for all changes to HUD policies, practices and procedures concerning enforcement-related activities, HUD has either totally ignored, unduly restricted, or chipped away at these safeguards, effectively neutering Congress’ effort to restore standards and accountability to the monitoring contract process. HUD has thus not only failed to protect the industry’s smaller businesses (and consumers of affordable housing) from regulatory excesses and abuses, but has actually undermined one of the primarypurposes of the 2000 reform law.

And, while there were indications, in 2017, that HUD, under Secretary Carson, would reform this process and conduct a legitimate procurement for the monitoring function (including a meeting for prospective bidders in November 2017 and the division of the monitoring contract into design and production monitoring functions), it now appears that HUD has backtracked from any such reforms, and that is our reason for writing to you.

Specifically, MHARR has learned that the last IBTS monitoring contract, which was due to expire in August 2018 (and which was the subject of the November 2017 bidders meeting), instead of being replaced with a new, genuinely competitive contract, has instead been extended for (at least) one year through a no-bid, sole-source, so-called “bridge” contract.

As objectionable and damaging as this is in itself, for continuing – on a dejurebasis – HUD’s addiction to sole-source procurements for this function, the official HUD “Justification for Other than Full and Open Competition” (Justification Document) document for this contract, lauds the entrenched incumbent contractor in ways that indicate that that there will no “full and open” competition for the full-term monitoring contract that succeeds the alleged “bridge” contract. For example, the Justification Document states, among other things: “the depth and breadth of knowledge demonstrated by the contractor [i.e., IBTS] during the performance of the current contract makes them uniquely qualified to perform services during the 12-month bridge. *** The contractor’s experience is unique because the contractor has extensive knowledge of working with HUD’s national building code 924 C.F.R. 3280) in areas of code administration and enforcement for several decades.”

Such language – coupled with the no-bid, sole-source “bridge” contract itself – indicate that HUD has no intention of conducting a legitimate, competitive solicitation for the next monitoring contract that will “drain the swamp” of 40-plus years of abuse. Indeed, such accolades for the entrenched incumbent could become a self-fulfilling prophecy, discouraging other bidders from competing for the contract, thereby continuing and reinforcing HUD’s multiple violations of applicable law (i.e., MHARR has searched for, but has unable to locate, anysimilar instance of such a 40-year-plus dependence on one entrenched defactosole-source contractor) and undermining Secretary Carson’s effort to reform the manufactured housing program. Indeed, legitimate competition, a new monitoring contractor and a monitoring contract that complies with substantive law regarding the limited nature of the monitoring function, are essentialto the successful implementation of any such reforms.

This no-bid, sole-source “bridge” contract and related activity, accordingly, is totally unacceptable to the industry’s smaller businesses. We will therefore contact your office soon to schedule a meeting to address this extremely serious matter.

Sincerely,

Mark Weiss
President and CEO
cc: Hon. Mike Pence
Hon. Ben Carson
Hon. Mick Mulvaney
Hon. Michael Crapo
Hon. Sherrod Brown
Hon. Jeb Hensarling
Hon. Maxine Waters
HUD Code Industry Manufacturers

HUD “Clarification” on Frost-Free IB Offers More Questions and Confusion Than Answers

TeresaPaynePhotoOfficeManufacturedHousingProgramsHUDlogoManufacturedHousingAssocRegulatoryReform

OCTOBER 17, 2018

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

FROM:           MHARR
RE:                 HUD “Clarification” on Frost-Free IB Offers
More Questions And Confusion Than Answers

As a follow-up to the MHARR memorandum sent earlier today regarding finalization of the proposed “frost-free” Interpretive Bulletin (IB), it now appears that the HUD program, after doing nothing during the October 16, 2018 installation conference call (which was conducted by the contractor) to correct the impression created by its contractor – that HUD would not be taking action to finalize that IB – is now trying to backpedal, or leave itself room to adopt the proposed IB at some point in the future.

The supposed HUD program “clarification” (reproduced in full below), however, actually creates more confusion and questions about how the program plans to handle this entire matter both near and long-term, and illustrates the type of regulatory and enforcement uncertainty that is inevitably created when regulatory and pseudo-regulatory functions are unlawfully delegated to contractors.

This incident, moreover, and HUD’s conduct regarding this matter, could indicate that the federal program might be starting to gravitate toward the type of unacceptable practices that characterized it before the arrival of the Trump Administration.

MHARR will closely monitor this matter very carefully for further discussion at the upcoming MHARR Board of Directors meeting.

Further, on the specific issue of the proposed “frost-free” IB, MHARR will continue to oppose the final adoption of the proposed IB – or any variant thereof – and will continue to press this matter until it gets full and complete answers.

HUD EMAIL

From: Payne, Teresa L Teresa.L.Payne@hud.gov
To Lesli Gooch LGooch@mfghome.org, mmarkweiss mmarkweiss@aol.com
Cc Gormley, Joseph M Joseph.M.Gormley@hud.gov, Mcjury, Jason C Jason.C.Mcjury@hud.gov

_
Lesli and Mark,

Due to questions from both industry associations, this email is being sent to further clarify the answer provided by SEBA Professional Services to a question received during the Open Industry Conference Call for the Installation program.  The incoming question and response stated:

Question: “Has there been any update to the Interim Guidance on use of Frost-free Foundations?“

Answer: “At this time, HUD has decided not to take action on finalizing the Interpretive Bulletin concerning frost free foundations.”

The answer provided was not intended to state any new or final program or policy decisions by HUD with respect to the future of the proposed Interpretative Bulletin on Foundations in Freezing Temperature Areas (the IB).  Rather, the answer provided was consistent with similar commentary provided by HUD during the recent MHCC Meeting.  To reiterate the essence of those comments, at this time, there has been no work or decisions on finalizing the IB.  HUD’s limited resources and current priorities for the office are not currently focused on finalizing the IB.  To be clear, at this time, there have not been any new or final policy decisions on the future of this proposed action.   The Department has received public comment on the proposed IB and HUD has also received previous comments from the MHCC.  HUD is also aware of the MHCC’s consideration of log items from the September 2018 MHCC meeting agenda.

Teresa

Teresa Payne
HUD Office of Manufactured Housing Programs (OMHP)
Photo courtesy of ManufacturedHomeLivingNews.com

HUD Will Not Finalize Proposed “Frost-Free” Interpretive Bulletin

HUDWillNotFinanicalProposedFrostFreeInterpretiveBulletinForManufacturedHomeFoundationsManufacturedHousingAssocRegualtoryReformMHARR-a

OCTOBER 17, 2018

 TO:                 MHARR MANUFACTURERS

                        MHARR STATE AFFILIATES

                        MHARR TECHNICAL REVIEW GROUP (TRG)

 FROM:          MHARR

 RE:  HUD Will Not Finalize Proposed “Frost-Free” Interpretive Bulletin

HUD’s Installation contractor, SEBA Professional Services, Inc., (SEBA) announced during an open industry conference call on October 16, 2018, that the Department’s June 21, 2017 proposed Interpretive Bulletin (IB) concerning so-called “frost-free” foundations (designated IB I-1-17) — consistently and strenuously opposed by MHARR since its initial publication – will not be finalized or issued by HUD as a final, binding IB.

MHARR specifically opposed the IB – which would have substantively changed the underlying HUD installation standard concerning foundations for frost-prone soils — in written comments filed on August 17, 2017, following publication of the proposed IB in the Federal Register, and called again for its withdrawal in February 20, 2018 comments filed pursuant to HUD’s manufactured housing regulatory review process under Trump Administration Executive Orders 13771 and 13777.

MHARR also raised the proposed “frost-free” IB as an example of baseless HUD regulatory excesses in 2018 meetings with HUD Secretary Ben Carson and HUD Assistant Secretary Brian Montgomery.

Most recently, the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC), at its September 11-13, 2018 meeting, had voted to recommend to HUD that the pending IB, one of the last administrative actions of former program administrator Pamela Danner, be withdrawn.

MHARR continues to press for the invalidation or withdrawal of other “field guidance” and related HUD pseudo-regulatory memoranda and pronouncements that were issued (and have been enforced) without notice and comment rulemaking as required by applicable law.

cc: Other Interested HUD Code Industry Members

MHARR Calls on HUD To Remove Zoning, Placement and Consumer Financing Barriers to Manufactured Homes

KabcoManufacturedHomeManufacturedHousingAssociationRegualtoryReformCallsOnHUDRemoveZoningPlacementFinanceBarriersAFFH-MHARRlogo

Washington, D.C., October 11, 2018 – The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), in written comments filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on October 11, 2018 (see, copy attached) has called on HUD to promote zoning and placement parity for federally-regulated manufactured homes as part of the Department’s plan to amend its regulations for Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH).

Noting that Secretary Carson and HUD itself have recently cited restrictive local zoning measures – including zoning mandates that discriminatorily exclude or restrict the placement of HUD-regulated manufactured homes – as a significant root cause underlying the lack of affordable housing in many areas of the United States, MHARR’s comments seek amendments to the AFFH regulations that would: (1) identify the discriminatory exclusion of HUD Code manufactured homes and/or manufactured home communities (or the discriminatory limitation of manufactured home placements in compatible residential areas) as an obstacle to fair housing that program participants must address as part of their AFFH compliance efforts; and (2) “encourage actions that increase housing choice,” by promoting changes to local zoning and land-use ordinances that would permit the siting of HUD Code manufactured homes in all compatible residential areas, as well as the development of new and/or expanded HUD Code manufactured housing communities in such compatible residential areas.

To ensure compliance with these amendments, MHARR urges HUD to expressly and specifically condition the receipt of grant (or other) funds on the elimination of discriminatory restrictions on the placement of HUD Code manufactured homes or — absent voluntary compliance by local jurisdictions — to federally preempt such discriminatory measures pursuant to the enhanced statutory preemption authority provided by Congress in the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000.

Strong and effective action by HUD is absolutely essential to ensure that all Americans have access to the inherently affordable, non-subsidized homeownership offered by today’s federally-regulated manufactured homes.  Although these homes are the best that the industry has ever produced, and represent an outstanding value that is intrinsically affordable for all Americans, including lower and moderate-income families, access to manufactured housing is being needlessly – and unlawfully – restricted by discriminatory zoning and placement restrictions that the industry’s post-production sector has been unable to effectively counter. Given Congress’ specific grant of authority to HUD to override such discriminatory zoning measures, HUD’s amendments to AFFH should ensure full access to manufactured housing by every American everywhere in the United States.

In addition to removing such discriminatory local barriers to affordable, non-subsidized manufactured housing, MHARR has also called on HUD – in meetings with Secretary Carson and Assistant Secretary Brian Montgomery – to take concrete steps to place manufactured home consumer financing, and most especially federal support for the 80% of the manufactured housing consumer financing market represented by personal property or “chattel” loans on par with other types of consumer home lending.  MHARR has thus urged HUD to support and encourage market-significant securitization and secondary market support by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for manufactured homes under the “Duty to Serve” provision of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) and has also urged HUD leadership to revive and expand manufactured home chattel loan support under the existing Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Title I manufactured housing program.

In Washington, D.C., MHARR President and CEO, Mark Weiss, stated: “Once again, the leadership of President Trump and Secretary Carson is offering significant new opportunities for both consumers and producers of HUD Code manufactured housing.  As the federal government agency responsible for housing-related matters for the nation, HUD should use all of the tools that are available to it – through grant funding mechanisms and through mandatory federal preemption, if necessary – to ensure zoning, placement and consumer financing parity for inherently affordable manufactured homes and the mostly lower and moderate-income American families who rely on those homes to achieve the American Dream of homeownership. Baseless NIMBY-ism is no excuse for denying the benefits of homeownership to every American in every community.”

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.pdf-images.-2jpg

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Strong HUD Code Production Growth in August 2018

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Washington, D.C., October 3, 2018 – 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), strong year-over-year manufactured housing industry production growth continued in August 2018. Just-released statistics indicate that HUD Code manufacturers produced 9,157 homes in August 2018, an 8.6% increase over the 8,434 HUD Code homes produced during August 2017. Cumulative industry production for 2018 now totals 66,688 homes, a 9.6% increase over the 60,839 HUD Code homes produced over the same period in 2017.

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 August 2018 — with cumulative, monthly, current year (2018) and prior year (2017) shipments per category as indicated — are:

StateCumulativeCurrent Month (Aug. 2018)20182017
Texas80,919 homes1,70313,04410,337
Louisiana31,022 homes4873,4353,970
Florida26,112 homes6834,7643,977
Alabama19,243 homes3743,5523,899
N.C18,002 homes3913,1012,651
Mississippi16,340 homes3182,5712,421
California15,892 homes3812,6772,428
Kentucky14,642 homes2871,9432,157
Michigan14,761 homes4682,7443,301
Tennessee12,581 homes2591,9791,724

The latest information for August 2018, moves Michigan ahead of Kentucky in the cumulative top ten list.

Please note: There was a minor error in the September 10, 2018 MHARR Production Report.  Cumulative production for 2017 through the end of July 2017, should have been stated as 52,405 instead of 52,305, and the cumulative production increase percentage should therefore have been 9.8% instead of 10.0%.  Please correct your records accordingly.

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.

GSEs’ “Duty To Serve Underserved Markets” Plans

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OCTOBER 3, 2018 

TO:   INDUSTRY MANUFACTURERS, RETAILERS, COMMUNITIESAND FINANCE COMPANIES

FROM:           MHARR

 RE:                 FHFA REQUESTS INPUT ON PROPOSED MODIFICATIONS TO 

GSEs’ “DUTY to SERVE UNDERSERVED MARKETS” PLANS

Attached for your review and information is a copy of a notice issued by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) on October 3, 2018, seeking public comment on proposed revisions to the initial “Duty to Serve Underserved Markets” (DTS) implementation plans submitted by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to FHFA in 2017.  A link to the proposed modifications, which would directly impact the manufactured housing market, is contained in the FHFA notice.  Please click on that link for relevant details.

As industry members are aware, MHARR has been pressing FHFA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Congress and the Administration to provide for market-significant levels of secondary market and securitization support, by the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) under DTS, for the personal property or “chattel” loans which comprise 80% or more of the purchase-money consumer financing for HUD Code manufactured homes.

 MHARR plans to carefully analyze these proposed DTS plan modifications, and will submit appropriate comments to FHFA.

Comments on the proposed modifications must be submitted to FHFA no later than November 2, 2018.

Duty to Serve Update: FHFA Requests Public Input on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s Proposed Duty to Serve Plan Modifications

Greetings:

Today the Federal Housing Finance Agency is requesting public inputas part of the Agency’s consideration of proposed modifications to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s (the Enterprises) 2018-2020 Underserved Markets Plans (Plans) under the Duty to Serve program.  FHFA has determined that public input would be helpful in considering four of Fannie Mae’s twenty-two proposed modifications that would each make a substantial change to the content of its Plan.  Freddie Mac has submitted one modification that FHFA considers to be a modest correction and, as a result, FHFA is not seeking public input on this proposal.

FHFA intends to issue Non-Objections to the Enterprises, where appropriate, for proposed modifications by December 2018.  Upon the issuance of a Non-Objection, FHFA intends to publish the following documents on FHFA’s public website:

  • The modified Plan(s) the Enterprises submitted that received a Non-Objection from FHFA;
  • Redlined versions of the portions of the modified Plans containing all modifications, including technical edits;
  • All of the Enterprises’ completed “Plan Modification Request” templates (twenty-two from Fannie Mae and one from Freddie Mac).  These documents will be published to provide the public with insight into the reasons the Enterprises’ changed their Plans.

FHFA is issuing this Request for Input on its dedicated webpage, FHFA.gov/DTSthrough November 2, 2018.

For more information and program updates, visit FHFA.gov/DTS.

MHARR Exposes GSES’ Failure On Chattel Financing Before Congress

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                     Contact: MHARR

(202) 783-4087

Washington, D.C., September 27, 2018 – The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), in a submission (copy attached) to the House of Representatives’ Financial Services Committee in conjunction with a September 27, 2018 oversight hearing on regulation of the two “Government Sponsored Enterprises” (GSEs) – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – strongly criticized the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), for failing to implement federal law and, instead, sanctioning the GSEs’ continuing discrimination against lower and moderate-income American consumers seeking to purchase manufactured homes through personal property, or chattel loans.

Specifically, MHARR’s submission emphasizes that under the “Duty to Serve Underserved Markets” (DTS) provision of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA), so-called DTS “implementation plans” developed by the GSEs and approved by FHFA in late 2017, fail to provide for market-significant participation by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the manufactured housing chattel finance market some ten yearsafter Congress, through DTS,  specifically directed the GSEs 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,” including chattel loans.  Such chattel loans account for 80%(or more) of the entire manufactured housing market, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

As MHARR’s submission explains, the so-called Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac DTS “implementation plans,” by failing to provide for market-significant participation in the manufactured housing chattel financing market – beyond tiny, highly-conditional, “pilot programs” that through 2020 would serve, atmost, little more than 1% of the manufactured housing market – do not and cannot, by definition, satisfy the express statutory mandate of DTS.  Indeed, it is utterly inconceivable that Congress, in adopting DTS, intended for the vast bulk of all manufactured housing purchasers — and potential purchasers — seeking to access the nation’s most affordable source of non-subsidized homeownership, to gounservedunder DTS indefinitely and, potentially, forever.

Relying on an alleged lack of chattel loan “performance” data that is a direct result of their own long-term, discriminatory failure to serve the manufactured housing market – that DTS was specifically designed to remedy – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac instead seek to evade that “duty” indefinitely. As emphasized by MHARR, this will effectively force the 80% (or more) of the manufactured housing purchasers who currently rely on chattel financing to seek loans from one of the existing market-dominant manufactured housing lenders that do not require or seek secondary-market securitization or support from the GSEs and provide such financing at interest rates that are higher than would be the case if the GSEs were significant participants in the manufactured housing chattel market. Even worse, many more potential lower and moderate-income manufactured home purchasers, who might otherwise qualify for a loan, will continue to be needlessly excludedfrom the manufactured housing market – and from homeownership altogether – because of the higher chattel loan interest rates and monthly loan costs resulting from the GSEs’ continuing discriminatory refusal to fully implement DTS with respect to chattel loans.

MHARR, accordingly, will continue to press for the fullimplementation and application of DTS to manufactured home chattel loans and will continue to address, through all necessary means (including Congress and the Administration) the ongoing failure of FHFA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to implement DTS in a timely and market-significant manner, thereby depriving lower and moderate-income Americans of the full access to affordable, non-subsidized manufactured homeownership that Congress sought to provide.

In Washington, D.C., MHARR President and CEO, Mark Weiss, stated: “Congress, in its vital oversight role concerninhg FHFA, must hold that agency – and, by extension, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are being and have been bailed-out with billions of taxpayer dollars — accountable for their ongoing discriminatory failure, more than a decade after-the-fact, to fully implement  DTS with respect to the 80% of the federally-regulated manufactured housing market that is represented by chattel purchase-money loans. Affordable homeownership is desperately needed in the United States and is at the coreof the GSEs’ statutory mission.  Neither FHFA nor the GSEs should be allowed to flout this mission, nor the specific mandate of DTS with regard to manufactured housing chattel loans.”

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.pdf-images.-2jpg

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