An informed source tells MHProNews that “I have been told that FEMA has 3,700 units on hand and they have commitments for about 11,000. However, they needed 36,000 before Irma.”
To put that total need by FEMA into perspective, last year, the entire manufactured housing industry produced some 81,100 HUD Code manufactured homes.
With manufactured home retail and community orders rising, the very real possibility exists that if FEMA demands that their orders take priority, as multiple sources reported to the Daily Business News (DBN) on MHProNews recently, then manufactured housing retailers and communities could be left out in the cold.
And that – says independent retailer Gus Rodriguez of Tejas Homes in Conroe, TX – could harm an operation like his, or numerous others.
Rodriguez stated in an on-the-record series of messages to MHProNews that one of his Clayton (CMH) plants has told his company that their next order won’t arrive until February 2018.
“We can see why FEMA buys direct from manufacturers to expedite new homes to those [storm victims] who lost their homes,” Rodriguez said. He is “Absolutely” sympathetic to the needs of those tens of thousands of hurricane victims.
“However,” the Tejas Homes leader asked, “who is looking out for the long-term viability of the [independent] retailer organizations?”
Other independents are asking the same thing. Who is looking out for them?
Rodriguez Isn’t Alone
Rodriguez isn’t alone in his numerous concerns.
One of MHProNews’ original sources on this challenging issue said last week, “FEMA threaten [sic] to force manufacturers to put them in front of retailers [sic] orders. The threat is real but keep my name out of it. I will shut my plant down and they will have to nationalize before we build them sh-t,”
FEMA has yet to respond to these concerns, but an association source in contact with them told the DBN, “It is my understanding that if there is an emergency declaration that FEMA can require manufacturers that they have contracts with to provide them with priority production. I don’t know the details.”
That statement was verified independently by a memo from the RVIA, see that document on the report, linked here.
While the RVIA has stated that they support FEMA buying from retailers, no parallel statement is known to have come from the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI). Yet, MHI purports to represent independents as well as corporate giants. Some ask, is that yet another apparent MHI disconnect?
Independents Express Concerns
Several independents have expressed concerns off-the-record to MHProNews about FEMA by-passing retailers and communities in their purchases.
One source said, “The industry is experiencing unprecedented backlogs, the likes of which I have not seen in my 45 years in the industry; and this was before the hurricanes.”
“Manufacturers who take FEMA orders direct are hurting their existing dealer base. FEMA should have to buy from Retailers just like everyone else,” that multiple location operation told the DBN.
Rodriguez statements would suggest that he agrees.
“There is a real impact to retailers when you take out 4 months – or 1/3 of a year’s – availability away,” Rodriguez said.
“We applaud Legacy Housing Ltd. in Texas for their approach to provide housing availability thru their retailers,” he added, while noting that Legacy’s Georgia plant may not be following that same standard. Their Georgia plant is building FEMA houses, his source with the company told Rodriguez.
Other Sources, Concerns
Another industry professional expressed concerns that FEMA’s process of using brokers can make “millionaires” out of some.
In a detailed statement, another source said that FEMA’s system is inefficient, and that better ways could be used that the current MHU process. That statement is linked here.
MHI, Clayton Homes, MHARR and FEMA
The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) has previously stated to MHProNews that they encourage the use of manufactured homes over RVs. But the Washington, D.C. based association has not yet been specific on how they believe that distribution to FEMA should take place.
MHProNews will reach out again for comments from MHI, Clayton Homes, and FEMA ## (News, analysis.)
(Image credits are as shown above, and when provided by third parties, are shared under fair use guidelines.)
Submitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.com.