A lot has happened since September 2018, when the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) and its subcommittees met to review a series of updates intended to improve the HUD Code provisions that are currently governing the manufactured housing industry.
Over the past few years, MHI has proposed a series of legislative changes that focus on reducing the costs associated with building and installing manufactured homes, minimizing the burdensome regulatory requirements on manufacturers as well as manufactured home lenders, and last but not least ensuring the durability of manufactured homes and occupants’ safety.
Another important proposed change is the development of a framework for improving federal and local manufactured housing regulation on a regular basis and in a timely manner. Effective manufactured housing regulation requires changes to be implemented not only according to MHI’s recommendations but also according to the evolving technologies and new best practices developed specifically for the manufactured housing industry.
Thanks to MHI’s strong advocacy efforts and continued outreach with the HUD leadership and Members of Congress, HUD has recently released new formaldehyde emission standards for manufactured homes and announced that it considers revising a series of proposals that include, without being limited to:
- The removal of regulatory provisions that currently require manufacturers to comply with the Alternative Construction (AC) approval process for adjacent structures, such as garages and carports;
- The implementation of effective carbon monoxide detection, as the current HUD Construction and Safety Standards, don’t require the installation of carbon monoxide alarms in manufactured homes;
- The introduction of specific fire safety considerations for additions to manufactured homes, including garages, carports, and venting systems (proper separation between the air intake and exhaust system can prevent combustion gases from entering the living space through the air intake vent);
- The development of a prioritization process for manufactured home financing programs; newly manufactured home loan products combined with flexible underwriting guidelines could facilitate consumer access to more affordable housing alternatives;
- The removal of overly burdensome regulatory barriers that unjustifiably increase the cost of building, installing and preserving manufactured homes;
- The evaluation of the administrative process along with IPIAs’ and DAPIAs’ roles in the manufactured housing program in order to expedite the manufactured home production and on-site installation processes;
- The development of new manufactured home plants in opportunity zones;
- The development of a framework for identifying and assessing new design and construction methods to encourage innovation;
- The development of new regulations that focus on improving the energy efficiency of manufactured homes. In fact, the Department of Energy is currently working on new rules that are expected to make manufactured homes more energy efficient.
Maintaining a uniform federal building code and offering relevant financing options to potential manufactured homebuyers are two areas that depend on the ability to ensure regular, timely updates to the rules and regulations governing the manufactured housing industry. Failure to update the construction and safety standards along with the zoning regulations and manufactured home financing framework periodically and in a timely manner has already hindered homebuyers’ access to credit and affordable housing as well as manufacturers’ ability to use new construction techniques and materials. Currently, the materials and methods intended to be used in manufactured housing construction must be approved in advance by HUD. In the current context, MHI’s recommendations submitted to HUD, which are expected to improve the entire manufactured housing industry, are of the utmost importance.
MHI’s consistent and constructive advocacy efforts have also convinced the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations to consider the manufactured housing sector as an important part of our national affordable housing strategy. As a result, manufactured housing has been moved to the forefront of fast-moving efforts to address the country’s lingering shortage of affordable homes. Because alleviating regulatory barriers to manufactured housing will increase the overall supply of affordable housing and facilitating access to manufactured home financing options will allow more homebuyers to purchase a manufactured home, these two elements could put an end to the current affordable housing crisis.
MHI’s successful advocacy efforts have partially helped the HUD, Administration, and Congress to advance important improvements to the regulation of manufactured housing to the benefit of all those involved, including manufactured homebuyers, manufacturers, dealers, and lenders. MHI will continue its effective advocacy to ensure that more moderate- and low-income American families will have access to safe, quality and affordable housing.