Andrew Justus, J.D., Niskanen Center Housing Policy Analyst, Hill Op-Ed Asks and Answers – ‘What’s Holding Back Manufactured Homes?’ Sunday Weekly MHVille Headlines in Review


Attorney Andrew Justus, J.D., is a Niskanen Center Housing Policy Analyst who on 5.9.2023 published via the Washington, D.C. based The Hill Congress blog an op-ed with the headline that asked:What’s holding back manufactured homes?” ‘What is holding the manufactured housing industry back’ is a relevant question to any manufactured home industry professional that is thinking of a longer-term career. What’s holding back manufactured homes?” is a relevant phrasing to an inquiry that any current, past, or potential investor in the sector should explore. Justus’ headline in the Hill is a different way of expressing the inquiry: ‘why is manufactured housing underperforming during an affordable housing crisis?’ That should be an interest to taxpayers, renters, downsizers and millions of Americans from all walks of life.

Justus and the Niskanen Center are not the only organizations that have asked his pertinent question. The Urban Institute, for instance, explored that issue in 2022, though not all researchers have framed the topic as Justus did of the causes and possible remedies for the manufactured housing industry’s modest performance and how that is related to the U.S. affordable housing crisis.



Perhaps it is no surprise that neither the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), which Justus referenced, nor apparently MHI aligned trade bloggers/publishers have explored the topic Justus raised, per a search of each of their websites on 5.13.2023.

Hold those thoughts and insights in mind as this article on MHProNews sets the table for Justus’ op-ed.

Here is what the Niskanen Center says about Justus’ bio/cv.

QuoteMarksLeftSideAndrew Justus


Andrew Justus is a housing policy analyst, who works on urban issues, such as housing, transportation, and infrastructure within the social policy team. Previously, he was an associate attorney at Sullivan & Barros, LLP where he worked with D.C. zoning and land use regulations for residential developments. Justus has also worked at Smart Growth America as a policy associate focusing on Complete Streets, rural development, and intercity passenger rail policy.

Justus has received his Masters in Urban and Regional Planning (M.U.R.P.) from the University of Michigan and his J.D. from Western Michigan University’s Thomas M. Cooley Law School.”

Influence Watch on 5.13.2023 reports the following about the Niskanen Center.

QuoteMarksLeftSideThe Niskanen Center is a nominally libertarian 501(c)(3) environmental think tank with ties to center-left environmental groups. The Center was created in January 2015 and was initially headed by Jerry Taylor, a global warming advocate and environmental activist who authored a 2015 report The Conservative Case for a Carbon Tax1 Taylor later resigned in 2021, amid a domestic abuse scandal.2 The Center is named for William Niskanen, a senior economic aide to President Ronald Reagan who died in 2011. 3

The Niskanen Center for Public Policy is the 501(c)(4) lobbying arm of the Niskanen Center.”


The Money Trail

The money trail behind nonprofits may shed light on an organization’s various stances. Also per Influence Watch are some insights about the money trail, i.e.: the donor organizations that help fund the Niskanen Center. Among the 25 listed organizations that provided funding to the Niskanen Center included several described as left-of-center organizations. Some examples are shown below.

  • Facebook
  • Google Foundation
  • Rockefeller Foundation
  • William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (Non-profit)

Justus was contacted on 5.13.2023 about his column on the Hill. Insights on that inquiry are in the postscript, further below.

From the Hill is the core text from Justus’ opinion piece, provided below under fair use guidelines for media, with feature images and some other elements not included. They can be found on the Hill website at this link here.

QuoteMarksLeftSideWhat’s holding back manufactured homes?


The term “manufactured housing” often comes with negative connotations: poorly maintained homes, sub-par quality, and aesthetically unappealing. This unfavorable stereotyping belies the fact that today’s HUD Code manufactured homes are not unlike the ugly duckling flourishing to a refined adulthood. Before the Code’s adoption in 1976, what were then called “mobile homes” were built to lower standards for strength, durability, and efficiency. This saddles modern manufactured homes with a poor reputation inherited from their predecessors, when in fact they offer more diverse configurations and higher-quality housing options. If Congress and other policymakers take appropriate steps to level the playing field, more manufactured homes can make their way onto the market, offering more families and individuals appealing, relatively affordable housing options.

Today there are more than 8.4 million manufactured homes across the country providing affordable, comfortable accommodations. Still, manufactured housing is underrepresented in housing policy discourse, in part because it tends to be “out of sight and out of mind” in expensive coastal cities where many policymakers and thought leaders reside.

HUD Code Manufactured Homes are, as the name implies, regulated nationally by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This central regulation is a benefit and a curse. It is a benefit because implementing uniform design standards across the country enables otherwise impossible economies of scale if these homes were required to abide by the national patchwork of state and local codes that regulate site-built homes.

On the flip side, the HUD Code can be a curse because uniform design elements — like roof slopes and a steel chassis beneath all manufactured homes — enable local zoning codes to single out manufactured homes with regulations that may appear neutral. However, these narrowly tailored rules exist to exclude these homes and their residents from areas with site-built housing.

With this context in mind, exploring how the playing field can be leveled is crucial, as it would enable manufactured homes to compete fairly with their site-built counterparts. There are several measures that Congress, state legislators, and even banking regulators can take within their domains to make the marketplace fairer.

As the regulator of interstate commerce and state restrictions, Congress can preempt unreasonable constraints on interstate commerce like New Jersey’s requirement that manufactured homes only go in designated “parks.” Congress can also use its spending power to encourage states or local governments to allow fair competition between HUD Code and site-built homes.

As the building code regulator, HUD can enable more novel designs and other innovations to allow greater flexibility in home design that blurs the distinction between manufactured and site-built homes.

States, which title real and personal property, can reform manufactured home titling practices to allow permanently sited homes to become real property. This will allow landowners to finance manufactured homes similarly to a site-built home and to eventually sell the home with the land.

Finally, financial regulators and mortgage guarantors can offer the same benefits to manufactured homeowners that site-built homeowners enjoy in the form of long mortgage terms and low down payments.

If these and additional reforms are implemented, many in the manufactured housing industry say that additional growth will come when we break out of the traditional setting for manufactured homes — that is, designated communities or “trailer parks.”

Some HUD Code homes are already appearing in places where they were, until recently, relatively scarce. HUD Code accessory dwelling units are a growing, flourishing market in states like California and Texas where state and local laws recently began allowing them. What’s more, the most recent HUD Code revisions allow greater design flexibility, and this may even extend to the possibility of multi-family units.

New developments and regulatory changes demonstrate that manufactured housing has ample room to expand in scope and into previously untapped markets. Still, that growth is contingent on establishing a playing field more level than what exists today. Once this is achieved, prospective American homeowners will have more options that will best accommodate their lifestyles and financial realities, free of the stigma that has historically — and unfairly — burdened manufactured homes and their occupants. ##


Some Initial Observations

Justus’ roughly 675-word column covers several topics that shed light on manufactured housing’s underperformance.  In no specific order of importance, Justus touched on these topics.

  • 1) An unjustified image for the manufactured home industry is one cause for underperformance, which is arguably an education and information (including, but not limited to, marketing) issue.
  • 2) Regulatory issues, which Justus cited the role that Congress, HUD, and other public officials have or could play in resolving instead of adding to those challenges.
  • 3) Manufactured home finance related issues.  Note that the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) has routinely pointed to zoning barriers and the uneven playing field in manufactured home finance as factors causing manufactured housing industry underperformance.
  • 4) Justus mentioned ADUs and the lessons possible there. That’s an apt topic that MHProNews recently unpacked in the light of the Mercatus Center report linked below.


What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) or a Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit (DADU)? The Role of ADUs in Easing America’s Housing Crisis by Emily Hamilton Examined; plus, MHVille Market Updates


Justus didn’t question the apparent shortcomings of MHI in the context of the industry’s underperformance. That is a subject that is explored, directly and indirectly, in some of the reports in the recap of the headlines for the week that was, shown below.

More related to Justus’ thesis and timely topic are found in the postscript. Don’t miss them.

As a brief segue to mark the day, Happy’s Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. Our society would not be as it is without you.


Mother’s Day in MHVille, America – Timeless Lessons Learned from Real World Mom Experiences

With no further adieu, here are the headlines for the week that was from 5.7 to 5.14.2023.

What’s New and Recent on MHLivingNews






What’s New and Recent from Washington, D.C. from MHARR







What’s New and Recent on the Masthead






What’s New on the Daily Business News on MHProNews

Saturday 5.13.2023

2023 ‘Excellence in Manufactured Housing Awards’ – Claims, Facts, Op-Ed Practically Writes Satirical Saturday Column on Manufactured Housing Institute’s Sly ‘Awards’ – plus, MHVille Markets Update


Friday 5.12.2023

“Played”-Publicly Traded Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) Members, MHI News Update Reveals True State of Manufactured Housing Industry in May 2023-Facts, Analysis, and MHVille Markets Update


Thursday 5.11.2023

Manufactured Housing Institute Claims ‘Effective Branding’ for ‘Manufactured Housing’-Seriously? Target Rich Satirical Saturday Examines MHI Claims, Messaging, RESULT$; plus MHVille Stocks Update


Wednesday 5.10.2023

‘Potential Homebuyers on Sidelines Increasing Demand for Rentals’ – Which Markets UP, Metros Where Rents Fell – What Data Tells Affordable Manufactured Housing Pros; plus MHVille Stocks Update


Tuesday 5.9.2023

National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) Moves on Warren Buffett-Berkshire Hathaway at SEC and Two Leftwing ‘Disinformation’ Nonprofits with Complaints at IRS; plus MHVille Markets Update


Monday 5.8.2023

Cavco’s Inaugural Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Report Examined – ‘Ask Questions-Raise Concerns if They Exist’ – BBB Rating, Corp History, Other Factual Insights and Evidence Explored


Sunday 5.7.2023

Warren Buffett Led Berkshire Hathaway has Over $100 Billion Available for Investing, Why That Matters to Manufactured Housing, MHEC Members Know How Gold Rules; plus Sunday Weekly Headlines Recap



MHProNews emailed two questions to Justus on the morning of 5.13.2023. After quoting his remark (in italics, below), that inquiry asked the two questions as shown.

If Congress and other policymakers take appropriate steps to level the playing field, more manufactured homes can make their way onto the market, offering more families and individuals appealing, relatively affordable housing options.

Q1) That quote from your Hill column, are you familiar with the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) of 2000 and its so-called “enhanced preemption” provision?
Q2) If so, what are your views on the Congressional intent behind that legislation?
A friendly reply came later in the day in response to that email. The reply requested a time for discussion. MHProNews will plan an update in the foreseeable future in the light of such a possible discussion.
The thrust of Justus’ thesis points to several apparent reasons why the manufactured home industry is demonstrably underperforming. His points are true enough.
That said, as last Sunday’s report linked above and here demonstrated, the RV industry once trailed manufactured housing (MH) production by a ratio of about 3 MH to 2 RVs in 1998.  But as that Sunday report illustrated and documented, through consistent and effective educational, image-building, and marketing, the RV industry has since surpassed MH by a ratio of some 5 to 1 at times. Restated, the manufactured home industry could be soaring by dealing with issues that MHARR, Justus, and others have raised.
But instead, manufactured housing is metaphorically snoring during an affordable housing crisis. Are there reasons beyond those cited by Justus? Yes.
Given that numbers of intelligent and/or successful individuals with access to ample resources are involved in leadership in the manufactured housing industry, one must wonder. Who benefits from the status quo?  After all, many if not most of those leaders are aware that manufactured housing is operating at only about 30 percent of its last highwater mark achieved in 1998. While the U.S. population grew, the U.S. manufactured home industry shrank? The graphic below captures in moments how far manufactured housing had fallen and how little it has recovered.
Justus is broadly correct in making the case that manufactured housing could go significantly higher. That noted, the case could be made that several outside researchers’ theses are incomplete. In fairness to Justus, there is only so much that someone can say in under 700 words. Note too that MHProNews/MHLivingNews plans to explore some related research by Justus and a colleague of his at the Niskanen Center have published beyond this Hill op-ed. That look at other Niskanen Center documents about manufactured housing is planned for the near term.
In the wake of the post-COVID19 demand for housing, manufactured housing nationally finally once more broke beyond the 100,000 new home production mark (see above). Backlogs at factories were months long only a year ago. It is in that context that just over 21 months ago when a prominent leader of a well-known MHI member brand told MHProNews this: “Soon the industry will have a downturn for a variety of reasons and the non-committed will suffer, maybe even fail.” Again for emphasis, recall that at the time MHProNews published that remark, manufactured housing was growing, not shrinking in production. That report is one of hundreds published on MHProNews and/or MHLivingNews that have stood the test of time. It is arguably an advantage to have inside information and to be willing and able to report it.
What Justus didn’t explicitly say is that it should be apparent that the industry’s so-called leaders are more focused on something other than what is obviously needed steps for growing the manufactured home industry. Put differently, there is an agenda that manufactured housing insiders have that they may not always be blunt about. That said, a report linked above and here for the week that was makes it clear that manufactured housing industry consolidators find industry ‘constraints’ to be of benefit to their business model.
The Weakness of the Insights from Several Manufactured Housing Industry Sources
Those who begin to lay out all of the pieces of data, statements, and sometimes puzzling behaviors and nevertheless try to say something other than the industry’s leaders often value the status quo logically may either be ignorant of all the relevant facts or they too may have an agenda.
For instance. Every would-be rival manufactured housing bloggers and publishers, MHI staff and corporate leaders – per informed sources – are routine readers of this site. So beyond their own sources of information, they should know from this platform the facts, evidence, and trends that make it plain that the industry is underperforming. So why don’t they write about that pressing issue?
Why don’t they even ask some focused variation of the question asked by Justus? Namely, “What’s holding back manufactured homes?”
What emerges from a careful combing of manufactured housing bloggers and media (other than MHProNews/MHLivingNews) is arguably a topic fit for what Capital Research Center calls deception and misdirection. The illustration below, which asks a variation of the question posed by Justus, will shed light on these observations. Note that neither MHI, nor their member/bloggers/publishers have that question on their website. That lack of intellectual honesty and curiosity speaks volumes.

Notice: the graphic below can be expanded to a larger size.

See the instructions below the graphic below or click the image and follow the prompts.

Note: depending on your browser or device, many images in this report and others on MHProNews can be clicked to expand. Click the image and follow the prompts. For example, in some browsers/devices you click the image and select ‘open in a new window.’ After clicking that selection you click the image in the open window to expand the image to a larger size. To return to this page, use your back key, escape or follow the prompts.
If someone contacts MHI, depending on who they speak to, they are unlikely to be told to read MHProNews faithfully.  But they might be told to check out one or more of those sources cited above, which just happen to be part of MHI’s ‘amen corner.’
Will Justus and other researchers follow the evidence and go deeper where Knudson Law’s Samuel “Sam” Strommen, Minneapolis Federal Reserve researcher James A. “Jim” Schmitz Jr., CFED/Prosperity Now’s Doug Ryan, MHARR, MHProNews/MHLivingNews and a few others have dared go for the more complete answer to his question?  Time will tell.
To learn more now, see the linked items plus the reports for the week that was in the headlines recapped above. Happy Mother’s Day. ###




Trade media can and should be a ‘cheer leader’ when it is appropriate to do so. But authentic trade media also holds the powers that be to account. Who says? The American Press Institute.
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Our son has grown quite a bit since this 12.2019 photo. All on Capitol Hill were welcoming and interested in our manufactured housing industry related concerns. But Congressman Al Green’s office was tremendous in their hospitality. Our son’s hand is on a package that included the Constitution of the United States, bottled water, and other goodies.

By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for

Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing.

For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and

This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.

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Related References:

The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.’

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