Dodd-Frank’s Fate, Our Futuristic Housing Options, and Richmond’s Condemned Trailers

Dodd-Frank’s fate to be determined as 2017 unfolds, Virginia Tech shows off their futuristic housing ideas, and residents of Rudd’s Trailer Park in Richmond, Virginia seek justice through a federal civil rights lawsuit.

It’s Monday, January 9, 2017, and those are your recent manufactured housing headlines for the past week.

Dodd-Frank:  “Will it Stay or Will it Go” in 2017? – 

Trump on Dodd/FrankYou may recall that here at MFH we have reported extensively during 2016 the devastating effects of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, enacted in the aftermath of the 2008-2010 financial crises. The Dodd-Frank Act unintentionally eliminated the opportunity for millions of hardworking qualified middle-income families to purchase a quality affordable home, specifically a new modern manufactured home. The language of the legislation inadvertently enacted the same controls and restrictions for manufactured homes as site built homes, even though manufactured home financing and sales are not subsidized or backed by the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Barney Frank, co-sponsor of the legislation readily admitted that after the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act, “the inclusion of manufactured homes in the legislation was a mistake.” The Dodd-Frank Act created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) with a single director, Richard Cordray, possessing seemingly unfettered authority to interpret, make and enforce the rules of this onerous legislation. Director Cordray has stonewalled every attempt by the manufactured housing industry and the U.S. Congress to correct any of the unintended provisions of Dodd-Frank. The CFPB was supposed to be an independent non-partisan regulatory agency. Instead, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the most partisan agency in the federal government in terms of donations to candidates, according to campaign finance data as reported by the Washington Free Beacon that 100 percent of CFPB’s donations went to Democrats. Rep. Sean Duffy, R.Wisc., a frequent critic of the agency said, “it’s no surprise that the agency would contribute to the Democrat campaign. Republicans have tried to reduce the bureau’s broad regulatory power since Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D. Mass., one of the most liberal lawmakers in the country, oversaw its creation.” Our prediction (Optimistic guess?)  for Dodd-Frank in 2017 is that the Republican Congress will pass legislation to amend Dodd-Frank, but not eliminate everything in it. At the minimum, President Donald Trump will summarily dismiss and replace Richard Cordray, based upon a recent federal court ruling that the CFPB structure with a single director is unconstitutional. That alone would open the doors for middle-income families to realize the American dream of affordable quality home homeownership– which is the definition of today’s modern manufactured and modular housing.

Virginia Tech Shows Off Futuristic Housing Options –

Photo Courtesy of the Roanoke Times

Photo Courtesy of the Roanoke Times

The following story was featured online by the Roanoke TimesInteresting in that what the researchers are planning for the future is a concept that already exists. It is called a modular home. However, what we find intriguing is the technology aspect which is a look into the future of manufactured housing. This is a condensed version of that article posted online January 5, 2017. Virginia Tech researchers are getting ready to show off their vision for a smart house of the future, complete with movable walls, a countertop that charges your phone and a closet that remembers where you left your shoes. The project dubbed FutureHaus, has been under construction for three years in a Virginia Tech warehouse. Pieces of the house have already been displayed at trade shows across the country, with the final pieces  — a bedroom, home office, and laundry room — being unveiled at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Expo in Orlando, Florida next week. Joseph Wheeler, the Tech professor leading FutureHaus development, said the whole project is built on the idea that homes should be manufactured like vehicles: in a factory, as one integrated system with technology built in from the beginning. (Editor’s note: Like a manufactured home?) Instead of nailing together pieces of wood on a job site and then installing wiring, Wheeler and his team of about 12 Tech students are developing a manufacturing technique that would ship homes as cartridges. Each would arrive with plumbing and electrical built in, ready to fit like LEGO blocks. (Editor’s note: Like a modular home?) One cartridge could be a bathroom wall with a touchscreen mirror, sink, and the necessary water pipes. That piece could connect to a kitchen wall with electrical outlets and cabinets or an office wall with a desk that folds down into a bed. In another demonstration, Wheeler shows how a television could be shared between two rooms. In the office, it could be used for teleconferencing. But swivel that wall 180 degrees, and the same TV is moved to the living room for movie night. Inside one FutureHaus closet is a touchscreen mirror that shows all the shirts you have in your closet at the moment. Pick an outfit, and a conveyor belt brings it to the front. Walk over to the shoe rack and a LED light points to a pair for selection. “Some of this really could take off; others seem ridiculous,” Wheeler said. “But that’s what we do. We’re doing research; we’re exploring what is the best solution and what is the best way to build…We can’t explore, we can’t improve until we build it and try it out.” So “It’s going to happen,” Wheeler said of the construction industry he believes is already beginning to embrace modular design. “What you see now is going to happen. This makes complete sense.” (Editor’s Note: We certainly agree with that!)

Rudd’s Trailer Park Revisited Following Condemnation, Evictions, and Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit  –

Photo Courtesy of Richmond Mag

Photo Courtesy of Richmond Mag

The genesis of this story goes back to early 2015 after the city of Richmond, Virginia enforced a city code by condemning the older mobile homes at the Rudd’s Trailer Park, forcing evictions of its resident. A federal civil rights lawsuit was filed by the residents, mostly Hispanic. Richmond Mag filed the following report on January 4, 2017, one year after the settlement agreement with the former residents. At Rudd’s Trailer Park off Jefferson Davis Highway, dozens of condemned mobile homes stand vacant, with boarded up or broken windows. Fire gutted some; others have been raided by vandals. If there’s any progress since last year’s settlement from a federal lawsuit and civil rights complaint, it’s not evident yet. Code enforcement by the city of Richmond led to the condemnations and the settlement to 33 current and former residents of Rudd’s and Mobile Towne Trailer Parks, most of whom are Hispanic. Dennis Pasqualino, who bought the park at auction in March, said his first priority was addressing crime. “Now our goal is to start taking the condemned trailers out.” He is working with the city and nonprofit groups to bring new trailers and residents. In response to the crisis at Rudd’s, a network of nonprofit and community groups formed the Virginia Mobile Home Park Coalition to assess parks throughout the region and consider ways to improve them. “With the proper combination of good policy and practical supports, “says Christie Marra of the Virginia Poverty Law Center, “there’s great potential for manufactured home communities to be a valuable part of the affordable housing spectrum.”

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