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HUD Secretary Carson Addresses Manufactured Housing At Oversight Hearing

MHARRRE:  HUD Secretary Carson Addresses Manufactured Housing At Oversight Hearing

The House of Representatives’ Financial Services Committee held an oversight hearing for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on June 27, 2018. The sole witness for this hearing was HUD Secretary Dr. Benjamin Carson.  During the two-hour hearing, a number of questions directly relating to HUD-regulated manufactured housing were raised by Committee members.

Multiple Committee members posed questions focusing on the status of the “top-to-bottom” manufactured housing regulatory review announced by the Department in January 2018.

In responding to those inquiries, Secretary Carson first recognized and acknowledged the importance of manufactured housing as a key source of affordable home ownership in the United States, noting that manufactured housing currently represents roughly 10% of the nation’s housing stock. More importantly, the Secretary specifically acknowledged that the regulatory burdens imposed on manufactured housing in recent years by HUD — detailed by MHARR in its written regulatory review comments and emphasized by MHARR manufacturers and staff in a February 2018 meeting with the Secretary – were “ridiculous” and a “major concern” for him and for the Department under his leadership. Further, the Secretary indicated that the Department’s manufactured housing-specific regulatory review – sought by MHARR throughout 2017 as one of its organizational priorities – could potentially be completed before the end of 2018, noting that completion of that review was a “priority” for him and for HUD, and that he would seek to “expedite” that process.

Another more specific question by a Committee member focused on the baseless restrictions imposed by HUD in 2014 on multi-family manufactured housing that are neither required nor authorized by the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974, as amended by the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000. Pointing out that such a restriction appeared to be “illogical,” the same Committee member also asked whether that issue had been addressed by any commenters in the manufactured housing program regulatory review process.

In response, Secretary Carson noted that the specific issue of multi-family manufactured housing had, in fact, been raised within the program regulatory review process, and agreed that the HUD restriction on multi-family HUD Code homes was indeed, “illogical.” Specifically, the matter of multi-family HUD Code homes was raised by MHARR in its February 20, 2018 program regulatory review written comments. (See, MHARR February 20, 2018 regulatory review comments at p. 11, “HUD Should Adopt Standards for Multi-Family Manufactured Homes”).  After noting that a proposed standard to permit multi-family HUD Code homes had been approved and recommended by the statutory Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC), but that HUD had failed to take action on that proposal within the 12-month timeframe mandated by the 2000 reform law, MHARR stated, in its comments: “Given the extremely beneficial impact that affordable, non-subsidized multi-family manufactured homes would have for lower and moderate-income American families, and given the fact that such an amendment to the HUD Code standards would be fully consistent with existing law … HUD should take immediate action to publish the MHCC-recommended provisions to authorize multi-dwelling unit manufactured homes as a proposed rule and to promulgate such a rule on an expedited time-frame.” (Emphasis added).

And, in fact, Secretary Carson, in response to this question, confirmed that this baseless, “illogical” restriction was being reviewed by the program as part of the ongoing regulatory review process, while the Committee member observed that there appeared to be no correlation between safety and multi-family habitation in manufactured homes.

In summary, the Secretary’s testimony with regard to manufactured housing was both positive and encouraging in acknowledging not only the substantive importance of HUD Code housing as a key affordable housing resource (including multi-family manufactured housing), but also the importance and progress of the program’s – and the Department’s – regulatory review processes.

MHARR will continue to interact directly with HUD appointed officials and will carefully monitor and keep you fully apprised of all developments affecting the manufactured housing program going forward.

cc: Other Interested HUD Code Industry Members

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