Washington, D.C., November 29, 2010 – The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) has called upon the General Counsel and Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to intervene personally to ensure that the Department fully discloses responsive documents, as required by law, to a request filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that it has thus far been reluctant to answer. That November 2009 FOIA request was filed in order to obtain documents and information regarding the apparent involvement of HUD officials (and agents) in closed-door meetings and related activities where a dramatic ongoing expansion of the in-plant regulation of manufactured housing producers was planned, developed and/or modified, contrary to relevant law.
These meetings and related activities represent the genesis of that expansion, which began over two years ago as a supposedly “voluntary” program, but, in recent months, has been transformed by HUD into a mandatory, costly and highly prescriptive, full-blown new layer of de facto regulation. Absent the full disclosure of the requested documents, the producers regulated under the HUD program can only conclude that these activities and the resulting expansion of in-plant regulation are illegitimate and a throwback to the type of regulatory abuses that led Congress to reform the original 1974 manufactured housing law. Moreover, to make matters worse, none of these massive new regulatory requirements have been presented by HUD to the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) or published for notice and comment rulemaking, as required by the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000.
Given these concerns, this FOIA inquiry represents the initial phase of a broader effort by the MHARR to gather relevant information and seek remedies for HUD’s failure – in this and other matters – to fully and properly comply with the 2000 law.
MHARR is requesting, accordingly, that these senior HUD’s officials intervene to ensure that the Department provides a written response to this long-overdue FOIA request and copies of all responsive documents. The letter also makes it clear that MHARR is fully prepared to take further steps if HUD continues to improperly stonewall this FOIA inquiry.
In Washington, D.C., MHARR emphasized that it is indefensible, under an Administration that has made a fundamental commitment to greater transparency and accountability in government, HUD has chosen to ignore this straightforward MHARR FOIA request – designed to ascertain its compliance with relevant law. MHARR similarly emphasized that it expects HUD to honor all of its obligations under the FOIA law and will take further steps, as necessary, to ensure that it does so.
The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform is a Washington, D.C.-based national trade association representing the views and interests of producers of federally-regulated manufactured housing.