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A Cup of Coffee with…Mark Weiss, President & CEO of MHARR (Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform)

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cup1) Who, What and Where: (Your name and your formal title at Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) and where your organization is based).

Mark Weiss, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR).

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  MHARR’s offices are – and always have been – in Washington, D.C., at 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Suite 512, Washington, D.C. 20004.

2) Background: (Your Educational/Professional snapshot before entering the manufactured housing arena).

Mmarkweisspresidentceomharr manufacturedhousingassociationforregulatoryreform postedmhpronews I received my BA (Political Science) from Rutgers University in 1980 and my Juris Doctor degree from the George Washington University, in Washington, D.C., in 1983. 

I was an associate attorney at the firm of Casey, Scott & Canfield, P.C. in Washington, D.C. – where I first started doing manufactured housing industry work — from 1983-1989.  I was later a partner in the law firm of Roberts & Weiss, P.C., in Lake Ridge, Virginia, from 1990-1996, and a partner at Weiss & Wilson, P.C. from 1996 until becoming Senior Vice President of MHARR and then President/CEO upon the retirement of my friend and mentor Danny Ghorbani in January 2015.

3) When and How: (When and how you began in manufactured housing).

My involvement with manufactured housing and the manufactured housing industry began completely by coincidence.  A friend from law school who had been working at Casey, Scott & Canfield, P.C. – at that time the general counsel for MHI – mentioned that the firm had another opening.  I applied and was hired as a part-time law clerk in August 1981. 

I immediately began doing research concerning industry issues and continued to handle industry legal matters upon passing the bar and becoming a full-time associate in 1983. 

When MHARR was formed in 1985, Casey, Scott became General Counsel for MHARR and I continued doing work for the Association as well as individual manufacturers also represented by the firm.  I continued in that same basic role for MHARR after Casey, Scott closed, until becoming its second President/CEO.

4) What are your personal interests or hobbies? How do you like to spend non-work time?

I’ve always been interested in technology and actually thought about becoming an electrical engineer at one point.  My particular interest was (and continues to be) in communications technology, which led me to get my federal amateur radio license in 1974 at the age of 15. 

I’ve been active on the air ever since and enjoy talking with other operators around the world. 

It’s challenging (in ways that the internet and cell phones are not) because you never know where your signals will be heard and who will respond, and it’s interesting because it’s like traveling vicariously to rare and unusual places. 

I also enjoy visiting, touring and hiking the parks and historic sites that we have in abundance in the Washington, D.C. area.

5) Sam Zell of Equity LifeStyle Properties fame (ELS) said in an interview MHProNews published that the American way of life is very much in danger.  He spoke of threats to private property, and of risks to our monetary system being caused by federal action. Before we get into the heart of our interview, please explain to our readers the principles of free enterprise and limited government that are at the heart of MHARR and its mission.

MHARR was organized on July 3, 1985, originally as the “Association for Regulatory Reform” (ARR).  At that time, comprehensive federal regulation of the industry was already an established fact under the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974. 

The HUD Code pioneers who formed MHARR, knew that in order to have the three essential elements needed to guarantee the unique affordability of manufactured homes for as many Americans as possible – (1) strong federal preemption; (2) uniform standards; and (3) objective, uniform enforcement of those standards – federally-based regulation was a necessity. 

Thus, they supported the 1974 law. 

But they also saw the need to ensure reasonable regulation under a system that would unleash the power of free enterprise to provide a private-sector affordable housing solution available to Americans at all income levels nationwide. 

The Association, therefore, in one of its earliest mission statements, pledged that it would be “dedicated to the maintenance of a [federal] regulatory framework which promotes the availability and affordability of manufactured housing” and “seeks an improved environment for [the] growth of the industry through fair and reasonable regulation.”

This basic objective of fair and reasonable regulation – regulation in full compliance with all applicable law; regulation that ensures the mass availability of affordable manufactured housing for every American who wants to own a home; regulation that promotes the technological advancement of the industry and allows it to grow and innovate to the ultimate benefit of consumers – is, has always been, and remains MHARR’s fundamental mission.  

6) MHARR has at various times in its history had as member companies one of the larger manufacturers, but generally, the organization’s members tend to be independent producers of HUD Code manufactured homes.  Please confirm or clarify that statement.

MHARR was formed by a handful of manufacturers who had become disillusioned with HUD’s implementation of the 1974 manufactured housing law and saw the industry’s existing representation in Washington, D.C. as weak and ineffectual.  The Association quickly grew and, at various times, has included larger manufacturers. 

Its principal constituents over the years, however, have been – and are now – smaller and medium-sized, independent manufacturers that are disproportionately impacted by excessive or excessively costly regulation and are attracted by the Association’s vigorous commitment to fair and reasonable regulation, as noted previously.

7) There has been very little turnover of top staff at MHARR.  That is also true of a number of state associations in manufactured housing, but has not been the case at the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).  I’m not going to ask you to comment (unless you wish to do so) about what some call the “revolving door” of staff at MHI. What I will ask you to comment on is why you believe that have you and your predecessor had such a long career in manufactured housing at this one association?

I cannot comment on MHI, other than to note that the organizations are different in their membership and structure, among other things. 

At MHARR, management philosophy itself is based on continuity and consistency in advancing the Association’s collective mission, objectives and policies, which have brought positive results.  The key factor in all this is consensus on collective views, interests and positions, with equal consideration for all members.  This type of management (and organizational) philosophy has resulted in the stability that MHARR has enjoyed since its founding.

8) Some issues in manufactured housing have existed for a lot longer than some people in the industry may realize.  Please tell MHProNews readers about that early assignment you had when you first came to MHARR, and how that same issue exists today.

When I first joined Casey, Scott and Canfield, P.C., in 1981, as I mentioned previously, they were counsel for MHI.  My first assignment, when I arrived, was to do research on the federal preemption of state and local fire sprinkler requirements under the original 1974 manufactured housing law.  I did a memo on that research, that I still have, which reflects my consistent view, since that time, that sprinkler mandates are — and should be — preempted. 

And the 2000 amendments to the law, providing for enhanced federal preemption, only reinforce and strengthen that position. 

This entire issue should have been put to rest long ago, in favor of preemption, but here we are 35 years later with this matter still unresolved and with some folks still pushing the narrative (incorrect in my view) that we need a federal sprinkler standard – “voluntary,” so they claim — in order to establish a basis for that preemption.  This is one major area in which a non-career, appointed program administrator with the type of clout, independence and accountability contemplated by the 2000 reform law could have helped.

9) Please clarify or confirm the following. MHARR has no PAC, is that right?  Isn’t your model more like those associations who strive to influence and work with regulators and legislators based upon facts and principles, rather than based upon how much money your PAC can give to a candidate seeking election or re-election?

That is correct. 

When MHARR was formed it had to make a number of basic strategic decisions.  One of those, given the position and status of the industry and political realities in Washington, D.C., was whether to establish an Association-affiliated Political Action Committee (PAC), or leave it to members to provide targeted contributions (or not) as they wished.  After a careful study, MHARR’s leadership chose the latter approach over the former – a decision for which they should be commended. 

The fact is that the manufactured housing industry, unlike others we could name, has enjoyed – and continues to enjoy – broad support from both sides of the political aisle in Washington, D.C., insofar as it provides affordable housing and homeownership for millions of Americans and offers well-paying manufacturing jobs, which have, unfortunately, become increasingly scarce in the economy as a whole. 

In addition – and again unlike other industries – manufactured housing provides these benefits without asking for taxpayer-funded government subsidies or other special favors. 

Instead, we have sought parity with other types of homes in consumer financing, and full compliance with applicable law regarding all of these matters – which should be a given, but actually represents a major, ongoing challenge.

10) One of the hottest issues in the industry is zoning.  An all-to-common challenge for manufactured housing professionals who sell and install homes is the zoning issue.  Even some community operators can run-afoul of zoning and planning commissions, when an outdated site is vacated and a new home ought to go into filling that now-vacant site. Yet didn’t one of the key things that the MHIA of 2000 did – at least in theory – is give “enhanced preemption” for manufactured housing?  Please lay out the case for MH Pros who run into zoning issues, as to why you believe the HUD Code for manufactured housing as amended should enjoy broad preemption from local zoning.

Well, as I mentioned previously, the first work that I did within the industry dealt with federal preemption and it has been a particular interest of mine for a long time.  It would be easy to write an entire book on preemption as it applies to manufactured housing under the original 1974 law and the 2000 reform law, but I’ll try to condense the case for federal preemption of MH exclusion that I’ve made consistently to HUD and within the industry.

The federal government has traditionally shied-away from intervening in “zoning” or “land use” matters which, under longstanding principles of federalism, they see as a fundamentally local matter.  And this is the approach that HUD took under the preemption language of the original 1974 law, which provided only for the preemption of state and local construction and safety “standards” by federal manufactured housing construction and safety “standards” addressing the “same aspect of manufactured housing performance.”  Under this old language, HUD could easily make the argument that since “zoning” laws and ordinances were not, per se, construction and safety “standards,” they were not preempted.

When the 2000 reform law was crafted, those of us involved, sought to address this – and enhance federal preemption under the Act generally – by, among other things, adding a sentence to the preemption provision stating that federal preemption under the Act had to be “broadly and liberally construed to ensure that disparate state or local requirements or standards do not affect … federal superintendence of the manufactured housing industry.” 

While most of the attention was – and has been – focused on the “broadly and liberally construed” part of this sentence, the far more important change is the broadening-out of the type of state and/or local actions that can be preempted, to include not just state or local construction and safety “standards,” but other types of state and/or local “requirements” that could impair HUD’s superintendence of the industry and the accomplishment of the specific goals and objectives of the 2000 law.

With this new language, there is now a much stronger argument for the preemption of so-called “zoning” and “land use” exclusions that are, in actuality, discriminatory in nature and MHARR has been aggressively pressing this case ever since the enactment of the 2000 reform law. 

Manufacturedhousingimprovementact2000 mhia2000 postedcupofcoffeewithmarkweissmanufacturedhousingassociationregulatoryreformmharr postedmhpronews

(Editor’s Note: MHIA 2000 click here or link above to download)

Unfortunately, given the fact that this sort of discriminatory exclusion occurs in post-production environments, the lack – again — of an independent, national post-production association that MHARR could partner with, has been problematic. 

Fortunately, though, we are aware of a number of state associations that have begun, individually and collectively, to press HUD on this issue, which is a positive development.

There are other recent developments in the law and federal regulation that impact this issue, as well.  Those are detailed in two articles I wrote in December 2015 and January 2016, that have been re-published by MHProNews.

11) The case is made from time to time that MHI and MHARR are their most effective when the two associations have found common ground, and working in concert with one or more state associations, address an issue – like the MHIA of 2000 – that the industry seeks in Washington, DC.  Please state your reaction to that observation.

There have been many times that the two associations have worked together over the years, but joint action is not a panacea or a guarantee of success, and history shows that it is often easier said than done. 

Partly, but not entirely, this is a function of the differing structure and membership of the organizations, with MHARR representing producers, who bear the vast majority of the regulatory burden imposed by HUD and other agencies, and also the fact that MHARR represents smaller and medium-sized businesses that are disproportionately affected and harmed by excessive, unreasonable, unnecessary, or unfair regulation. 

As far as the 2000 law is concerned (a law that would be difficult or impossible to pass today), that effort was made possible by the personal leadership and full commitment of four individuals – the associations’ Chairmen and Chief Executives – to forge and maintain the type of open, frank and transparent relationship between the organizations that kept the industry coalition together and focused.

12) There are those who think that MHARR has just historically been difficult to work with.  There are others who say MHARR operates from a core-set of principles, and that those principles guide your actions, which takes emotions out of the equation.  Can you shed light on those perceptions, please?

In Washington, DC everyone has an opinion – some accurate, some not. 

MHARR is not a typical “trade association.”  It is more in the nature of a “watchdog” organization that specifically deals with the regulation of manufactured housing and related federal law. 

Having been tasked by its Board, years ago, to “take the lead” on these regulatory matters, MHARR takes, strong and aggressive – but principled – positions on matters impacting its members, the industry and consumers, that seek full compliance with all applicable law. 

In determining these positions, MHARR is guided by its founding mission and by the collective decision-making of its Board, which includes all manufacturer-members.  This type of collective decision-making, as I noted in a previous answer, has provided for institutional strength and policy stability over the years.

13) Back when Thayer Long was president of MHI, we lightly made the case that if the industry’s associations worked more collaboratively, there could be a great ‘good cop, bad cop’ kind of synergy that could be effective on certain issues in DC.  Moving past the seemingly negative terminology and realizing that this is hypothetical, in the ideal – isn’t there an ‘opportunity in disguise’ if the two associations could better grasp each other’s aims, and worked better behind-the-scenes in ways that could make that kind of effective synergy happen? Feel free to agree or disagree with that notion.

This is the “flip side” of the “working together” argument.  But just like that, it tends to sound better than it actually is. 

The fact is that our federal regulators are intelligent people and would see through such an approach quite easily, offering them an opportunity to exploit the conciliatory positions of the “good cop” (referred-to in Washington, D.C. as go-along-to-get-along).

And, in fact, even without the type of specific coordination that you refer to, examples abound of exactly this sort of thing happening – including expanded Subpart I regulation, the recent DOE proposed rule, and others. 

Danny Ghorbani has long said – and he is exactly right – that the industry should not play “good cop” or “bad cop” with regulators, but instead should act as the “fair cop,” demanding full compliance with the law, reasonable regulation and fair, equitable treatment from our regulatory agencies and government generally. 

14) MHI has been on an unstated, but clear multi-year campaign to increase its ties to state and community MH associations, providing incentives to some for being involved with them.  At the same time, while HR 650 passed the House, there has been very little movement since then on the key issue that MHI has set forth as their flagship legislation – the so-called Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act (HR 650/S 682).  Please advise readers what your office has routinely said to those who contact you about HR 650/S 682.

When contacted about this bill – and there continue to be numerous inquiries — the Association routinely responds that it supports the effort to advance this legislation.

15) In an age of consolidation in the community sector, where larger players are buying up smaller ones, some say the same thing is taking place on the manufacturing side.  Please outline who are allowed to be members of MHARR? Then, outline for our readers some historical context, namely, the fact that at times in MHARR’s history, there have been fewer members than you currently have now, isn’t that correct?

MHARR was formed as an association of HUD Code manufactured housing producers and remains so today.  There are no other qualifiers, limitations or restrictions.  We also offer non-voting affiliate membership for state manufactured housing associations. 

MHARR began its existence (as ARR) more than three decades ago.  Since then, membership has ebbed and flowed as one would expect in a dynamic industry.  Today, we represent most of the industry’s smaller and some medium-sized, independent manufactured housing producers, and look forward to – and encourage – currently unaffiliated HUD Code producers to join our ranks.

16) Back before Pam Danner was eventually selected for the MH program position at HUD, MHI and MHARR leaders met and agreed upon 3 things.  That’s no longer a secret, so please lay out those three things that were agreed upon between the two organizations. And then explain, who you and MHI agreed to support for the HUD program role, and why you think career vs non-career federal hires in that role matters.

Yes.  That effort, utilizing the cooperation model established in pursuing the 2000 reform law, began at a meeting in January 2013, in Louisville, Kentucky.  Delegations from both associations, led by their respective Chairmen and Chief Executives — Don Glisson and Dick Jennison from MHI and John Bostick and Danny Ghorbani from MHARR — agreed to jointly advance three targeted priorities.

Richarddickjennison mhi l mmarkweiss r mharr postedcupofcoffeewithmarkweiss mhpronews

Richard Jennison, l, Mark Weiss, r.

They were: (1) “the elevation of federally-regulated manufactured housing – and its consumers – to full parity in all existing and future national housing programs and all national public and private home finance programs, including, but not limited to, corrections to FHA government-insured programs (particularly the shortcomings of the FHA Title I program) and FHFA manufactured home-secured private loans;” (2) pursuing the appointment of an agreed candidate as the non-career administrator of the HUD manufactured housing program; and (3) the appointment of one staff member from each organization to the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC). 

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As for the appointed, non-career program administrator position at HUD, it is no secret that the organizations interviewed, agreed upon and fully supported Vic DeRose – an attorney and industry veteran with a wealth of practical and legal experience — as their joint candidate, and Vic’s name was submitted to HUD through Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana.

 

Vic DeRose, JD                    Pam Danner, JD              Senator Joe Donnelly             

Unfortunately, after only a relatively short time, Don Glisson left the chairmanship of MHI, the process began to unravel and the rest, as they say, is history.

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 Don Glisson, Jr.

As for the importance of a non-career administrator, the 2000 reform law lists the funding of a non-career program administrator as one of the HUD Secretary’s “responsibilities” under the law (and any dictionary will tell you that a “responsibility” is a “duty” or “obligation”). 

Congress did this because it knew that without the independence, authority, clout and accountability of an appointed non-career program administrator, the other critical and fundamental reforms of the 2000 law would either be thwarted by institutional resistance or twisted beyond recognition. 

HUD, though, ignoring the plain language and meaning of the law, has taken the position that the appointment of a non-career administrator is discretionary, not mandatory.  So, when Pamela Danner was hired in 2014, she was brought in on a non-appointed, career basis.  And, unfortunately, we have seen the negative consequences that Congress feared, with many of the key reforms of the 2000 law either completely un-implemented, or fundamentally misinterpreted to the detriment of the industry and consumers. 

At the same time, the program continues to be dominated by revenue-driven contractors that effectively function as judge, jury and de facto enforcer, a phenomenon that Congress specifically sought to end.

17)  Please explain MHARR’s organizational thinking on regulations in general. What principles do you rely upon in considering proposed or existing regulations and their impact on manufactured housing?

Well, I would go back to MHARR’s founding mission, to “seek an improved environment for [the] growth of the industry through fair and reasonable regulation.” 

In practical application, this means that regulations should – and must – be in full compliance with the laws that authorize them, both in substance and in the procedures used to develop and implement them.

18) From the association’s viewpoint, of necessity, MHARR has a few years ago become more engaged in the financing issues that face manufactured housing.  What is your position on the GSE’s and the Duty to Serve, and why?

Correct. 

As noted previously, MHARR founding mission was directed primarily toward production regulation and many of the reforms incorporated into the 2000 law. 

After 2000, though, when the industry experienced setbacks with the SAFE Act and the Dodd-Frank law, among other things, MHARR was urged by its members (as well as several retailers, communities and finance companies) to become more involved in addressing consumer financing issues. 

While MHARR had success in developing and advancing the Duty to Serve in Congress and in having manufactured housing securitization and secondary market support included on a mandatory basis in GSE reform legislation passed by the House and introduced in the Senate in 2014, the full and proper implementation of DTS continues to lag.

MHARR, for its part, has always worked for the implementation of DTS – even when others in the industry wrote it off – and has continued to keep it alive, while pressing for the full inclusion of manufactured home chattel loans in DTS as was specifically authorized by Congress. 

But none of these have materialized yet, and represent just one of the many areas in which the existence of an independent, national post-production association could make a difference, and where the lack of such an independent national organization is hurting the industry and consumers in the nation’s capital.

19) While manufactured housing shipments have been rising since it hit bottom in 2009, many agree that we are nowhere near our industry’s potential. MHProNews has editorially taken the position that in a perfect world, MH could be doing over 500,000 (+/-) new homes a year, given the affordable housing crisis and the growing need for quality homes that are greener than site built and generally safer too.  What say you about our industry’s potential?

We fully agree. 

While 500,000 homes annually would be difficult in the short term, the industry is definitely under-performing, as is well-known in Washington.  MHARR has long maintained that the industry should be building hundreds of thousands of homes annually. 

Census data shows that manufactured homes are the nation’s most affordable housing.  And there is a mountain of evidence showing a growing need and demand for housing that is truly affordable; yet MH continues to experience only modest growth following record-low production in 2009. 

While the reasons are varied and complex, in large part it is because manufactured housing, as a regulated industry, has been too weak in fighting unnecessary regulation that increases the price of HUD Code homes and eliminated potential buyers from the market. 

HUD’s new on-site rule and the DOE proposed energy rule are good examples. 

But, the lack of aggressive, independent representation of the industry’s post-production sector is also a problem, as consumer financing, placement, “zoning,” education, public relations and consumer outreach (including advertising) continue to be major negatives and will continue to linger until such a representation is developed.

20) While most are happy that MH is years now into its recovery from the post 2009 bottom, there is not yet enough critical mass to guarantee what otherwise ought to be a strong future. Given a still relatively low volume of new HUD Code manufactured home shipments, there are forces in and outside of manufactured housing that can foresee how the industry could be regulated out of existence.  Some are openly advocating for abandoning the HUD Code, and moving to state-coded modular homes.  What do you say about those who take such a viewpoint?  What was the original genius of the HUD Code, and why do you think it is good for America and good for the industry too?

Both Danny and I have addressed this extensively in writing and in our interactions with industry members for many years. 

The fact is that the laws that we have are good laws.  Most industries would give anything to have the protections and advantages afforded to the industry and its consumers in the 1974 law and – most particularly – in the 2000 law. 

As I noted before, these laws establish the three elements that are essential to the mass production of affordable manufactured housing – federal preemption, uniform standards and uniform enforcement.  It is these elements that are only possible under a system of primary federal regulation in partnership with the states that guarantee the unmatched affordability of manufactured homes – a unique advantage that would immediately disappear under any other system. 

The answer, then, is not to “throw out the baby with the bathwater,” by sacrificing or abandoning our good laws, simply because industry weakness has allowed regulators to ignore or bypass them.  The answer, rather, is to fight hard, wherever and whenever necessary, to demand full compliance and the full and proper implementation of these existing laws.

21) James McGee and Chet Murphree of Deer Valley Homebuilders have said that education is the key to increasing sales for factory-built homes.  That education includes informing public officials of the modern realities, as the Boston Globe and Mary McBrady of the Massachusetts Manufactured Housing Association have noted. Any you say?

They are correct. 

It is certainly one of the keys, and a key part of MHARR’s mission in Washington, D.C. where we are regularly involved in educating decision-makers about today’s outstanding manufactured homes. 

The state associations and their executives have also done great work in informing and educating legislators and other officials. 

Again, though, where the industry has been lagging is in collective outreach to – and the education of – officials and consumers, after today’s great manufactured homes leave the factory, where the absence of an independent, national post-production association with targeted and coordinated objectives and a coherent strategy continues to disadvantage both the industry and consumers.

22) Related to the a previous questions, MHProNews has highlighted the fact that statistically, manufactured homes are only about 1% of all existing and new housing sales in the U.S., and modular homes are an even smaller share of the mix of all housing being sold.  We believe those facts actually point to the huge upside opportunities in the market. We believe there is good evidence that entry level and residential style manufactured homes are a poised for great growth.  Yet, the industry has not yet gotten into place the image, educational and regulatory factors needed to tap our potential.  What do you think ought to be done?  Do you see value to the principles behind MHProNews and MHLivingNews, as we seek to inform the public and the industry professionals, investors, policy advocates and others interested in the value of manufactured housing?

We obviously agree regarding the upside opportunities and potential for manufactured housing.  One additional point that I would make regarding regulation.  It is essential that full, free-market competition be maintained in all segments of the industry, and regulators need to be made aware of their obligation (under Executive Orders and other mandates) to preserve and protect a properly-functioning, competitive HUD Code housing market in every action that they take. 

Beyond the regulatory sphere, MHARR sees great value in the work done by you at MHProNews and by Jim Visser, through his outstanding guest columns, in informing and educating industry members, consumers, and the broader public regarding all of the benefits and advantages of today’s outstanding manufactured housing. 

An objective, independent trade press is – and will be – key to the growth and expansion of the industry and in bringing affordable homeownership opportunity to millions of Americans.  The industry has a great product and a great story to tell.  Publications like MHProNews and The Journal are vital to bringing that information to Americans and in simultaneously dispelling negative perceptions that while baseless in today’s market, have tended to linger from decades ago.

23) There are plenty of regulatory issues facing the industry in DC.  Please lay those out for us, and feel free to summarize and link to your position on those issues.

Again, it would be easy to write a book just on this one question, but I’ll just mention a few pending matters that MHARR is addressing:

  • The pending DOE energy rule.  This proposed rule would needlessly add thousands of dollars to the cost of new manufactured homes in return for negligible – if any – consumer benefits.  MHARR submitted extensive comments opposing this proposed rule and has pledged to fight its adoption by all available means.
  • The pending Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Duty to Serve rule. MHARR has consistently fought for the inclusion of all manufactured housing loans – including chattel loans – within DTS.  Again, though, the second proposed DTS implementation rule, published late last year, would exclude chattel loans from participation in DTS.  MHARR has submitted comprehensive comments demonstrating that FHFA objections to the inclusion of chattel loans in DTS are outdated, skewed and baseless, and that DTS must include chattel loans in order to properly serve manufactured housing consumers as directed by Congress.
  • Beyond these major pending rules are continuing issues regarding:
  • HUD’s needlessly costly and convoluted on-site construction rule that would only help industry competitors;
  • Monthly record reviews under HUD’s program of expanded in-plant regulation;
  • HUD intrusions on state authority through unauthorized activity within the federal installation program;
  • The need for an appointed, non-career program Administrator as soon as possible;
  • Reforms to HUD’s revenue-driven contracting system to address ever-expanding contractor “make-work” activity and other unauthorized functions; and
  • The full and proper HUD implementation of all remaining provisions of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 which MHARR continues to press administratively and through its legal counsel.

24) There is no website for MHARR.   Most people who do a “google search” and find you, might find you on one or both of our trade publishing sites, or on the Journal’s website.  While there the fact that MHARR currently has no website may change in the future, what has been the thinking that caused your organization to not take such a common step in the internet age?

The answer is actually simple and complex at the same time.  MHARR fights complex and difficult regulatory issues that often require intricate and detailed explanation/development, involving extensive give-and-take.  And the fact of the matter is that it is just difficult to do that effectively on a computer screen, where trying to condense complicated issues into “bite-sized” pieces could engender misunderstandings and confusion. 

That said, MHARR’s electronic mailing list has grown exponentially and information from MHARR continues to fully, fairly and accurately inform the industry, consumers and decision-makers on these important matters. 

At the same time, as I mentioned previously, we are thankful for – and appreciate the exposure that MHARR and its views receive through your widely-read website and publications. 

Ultimately, though, for a small organization like MHARR, it is challenging enough to take the lead on regulatory battles without having to deal with the complications of a website as well.  

25) Any closing thoughts, sir?

I appreciate the opportunity to communicate with your readers on issues that will significantly impact the industry and its consumers, and to reach members of the industry – and beyond – who may not be completely familiar with MHARR, its background and history, and the stands that it has taken. 

As you have said consistently, manufactured housing is a great product, with tremendous potential to serve millions more Americans than it already does. 

All of us have a role to play in making that unbounded opportunity a reality.  It’s been my privilege to have worked on behalf of the industry for more than three decades and an honor to now lead an organization that — despite its small size — has done so much to protect and advance the industry and its consumers. ##

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