HUD’s Office of Manufactured Housing No Longer Obscure

For most of its existence, the Office of Manufactured Housing has been an obscure office within a mega-bureaucracy, the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The little-known agency has had a penchant for ramping up policies and regulations that hamper the factory-built housing industry — an industry that could provide a market-based solution to America’s affordable housing crisis.

The Office of Manufactured Housing has been thrust into the spotlight upon the appointment of Dr. Ben Carson as Secretary of HUD, and charged by President Trump to “drain the swamp” by scaling back those regulations and federal requirements it has advanced over the past two years.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson Finds Today’s Manufactured Homes “Amazing”

Last week, Dr. Carson was featured guest speaker at the 2018 Manufactured Housing Institute National Congress & Expo in Las Vegas, where he affirmed that changes and policies are indeed being addressed by the Office of Manufactured Housing.

Carson says he finds today’s manufactured homes to be “amazing” and a real solution to the nation’s affordable housing crisis, especially for lower income families and retirees. He told members of the Manufactured Housing Institute, the industry’s largest trade group, “We’re working and trying to find a way to get the paper shredder out and get rid of as many of those that are not necessary as we possibly can.”

Lesli Gooch, Vice President of Government Affairs and Chief Lobbyist for MHI, said in an interview that Carson and his staff are now paying attention to the office and issue “buried deep within the bureaucracy.”

Industry Officials Say HUD Has Pushed Impractical Policies

Industry officials say HUD has pushed impractical policies—often at odds with its own advisory board’s recommendations—that would boost the cost of manufactured homes for sale without significantly improving their safety.

The efforts have come as administration officials are embracing manufactured homes as a way to increase the availability of affordable housing using the private sector—the over 40,000 manufactured home retailers, builders, lenders, suppliers, providers, and other jobs the industry provides—rather than taxpayer funding.

Manufactured homes already serve as the largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing in America. 22 million Americans live in “mobile homes” built prior to the enactment of the HUD Code or modern manufactured homes produced within the last four decades.

Stamp Of Trade Orgs MHI, MHARR Already On Office Of Manufactured Housing

As as result of their intensive lobbying efforts, industry trade associations MHI and MHARR have put their stamp on the heretofore obscure Office of Manufactured Housing.

The growing clout of the industry came into sharp focus last summer, when a trade group demanded—and got—the ouster of an agency official who favored more regulation of the industry while serving in the Obama administration, and an underling who donated to the former president’s campaign.

“That the Trump Administration would be party to such an amazing, ill-considered, offensive, and arguably scandalous action….is directly contrary to Trump’s own pledge to ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington, D.C.,” wrote Mark Weiss, president of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, in a July 27 letter, which was unusually harsh even by Washington standards, according to The Washington Post.

Source: The Washington Post

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