As the nation emerges from the unprecedented economic and social upheavals in 2020, the need for more affordable homeownership options will continue to be a critical priority for policymakers in Washington. With a new Administration, a slimmer House Democratic majority, and a Senate with the Democratic party in narrow control, the affordable housing crisis is one area where cooperation is possible.
MHI is continuing its work to ensure the manufactured housing industry is well-positioned to be a part of federal considerations about addressing our nation’s housing challenges. As the industry’s voice in Washington, and through our constant and influential advocacy with policymakers in both political parties, we have been able to elevate the industry’s priorities.
Our access to Washington policymakers is as strong as ever, and the direct engagement from MHI members to their elected representatives also helps keep our issues at the forefront. MHI has secured bipartisan champions across government, many of whom are returning to Washington, so that federal rules and regulations support the industry’s efforts to provide quality homes at affordable prices. In addition, we are meeting the new members of Congress and working with President-elect Biden’s transition teams so that manufactured housing is considered as their housing agendas are developed.
We are building upon our momentum from 2020, where we had an active year due to the needs of the industry through the pandemic. By working closely with Congress and the new Administration to ensure the interests of the manufactured housing industry were considered, we solidified and strengthened our relationships with policymakers.
MHI ensured the industry was deemed essential and could remain in operation during the COVID-19 crisis.
Further, we secured rental assistance funding in COVID-relief bills and federal funding support for businesses through programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program. In addition, we were able to secure the first-ever industry-wide alternative construction letter for our home builders to overcome supply chain shortages caused by the crisis.
In addition to our work to support the industry through COVID, we also continued to pursue our advocacy work to grow the market. We secured an extension of the Energy-Efficient New Home Tax Credit (45L Tax Credit) through 2021. We also were successful in having HUD propose the first comprehensive updates to the HUD Code in over a decade. With respect to financing, FHA program requirements were updated to accommodate the financing of CrossMod™ homes, and Congress directed HUD to make changes to the FHA Title I and Title II programs to better support manufactured housing.
MHI will keep this forward progress going in 2021. We are focused on four main areas:
- Improving financing for the purchase of manufactured homes
- Ensuring HUD Code regulations encourage innovation and are cost effective
- Addressing local zoning and land planning issues
- Successful representation in Washington on issues that impact the industry
Improving Financing for the Purchase of Manufactured Homes
One of MHI’s top priorities continues to be bolstering the availability of financing for manufactured housing. The economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis makes access to FHA financing programs more critical than ever. As such, MHI continues to work with FHA to update both its Title I (personal property) and Title II (land-home) programs, which have been needed for some time. MHI is also advocating for secondary market support for manufactured housing lending through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and working to ensure they continue to fulfill their Duty to Serve obligations. Further, MHI is working with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to better support the availability of financing for consumers interested in purchasing a manufactured home.
Ensuring HUD Code Regulations Encourage Innovation and are Cost Effective
In 2021, MHI continued to strongly advocate that HUD move forward with finalizing updates to the HUD Code that have been approved by the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee but are still pending HUD action and for future revisions to be implemented regularly. Further, MHI is pushing for a streamlined process for updating the HUD Code. As a part of the transition, MHI is arguing for the elevation of the Office of Manufactured Housing Programs (OMHP) to ensure that manufactured housing is an integral part of the Department’s affordable housing initiatives.
Addressing Local Zoning and Land Planning Issues
Addressing local zoning and land planning ordinances that discriminate against manufactured housing remains a top priority for MHI in 2021. MHI’s leadership has formed a zoning task force to develop strategies to support the placement of manufactured housing in localities across the country. The task force will approach this issue from all levels of government. At the national level, with increased attention by Congress on affordable housing, MHI is calling on HUD to exercise its preemption authority and use its funding influence when local building standards and zoning policies adversely impact manufactured housing and the supply of affordable housing. We will continue to bring to the incoming Administration’s and Congress’ attention examples of state and local zoning, planning, and development restrictions that either severely limit or outright prohibit the placement of manufactured homes. We will also continue to support our state associations as they address these issues.
Successful Representation in Washington
Across the federal government, MHI is the industry’s eyes and voice. Our strong bipartisan, and bi-cameral relationships and our effective advocacy strategy will help to ensure that federal actions support the industry’s momentum in supplying quality, affordable housing to consumers. MHI will work closely with the incoming Congress and Administration officials to ensure the interests of the manufactured housing industry continue to be considered across the range of issues that impact us, including federal actions with respect to economic stimulus and the pandemic. We will keep monitoring and addressing supply shortages in the industry, work with the 117th Congress and the new Administration on their energy efficiency and transportation initiatives and look for opportunities to tout manufactured housing at hearings and convenings of Congress and the Administration. Further, MHI will continue to advocate the benefits of land-lease communities and ensure that any federal legislative or regulatory actions support this popular homeownership option.
Access to safe and affordable housing is not a partisan issue and manufactured housing provides the largest form of unsubsidized affordable housing in the country. MHI will continue its effective approach to federal advocacy so that manufactured housing continues to be a part of the affordable housing dialogue in Washington. While 2021 will pose unique challenges and opportunities, MHI will ensure policymakers support the manufactured housing industry’s work to supply quality, affordable housing across the country.