TampaBay reports a $33 million program over the past 12 years to retrofit thousands of pre-HUD Code homes with anchors to make them more storm resistant has come under fire for not living up to its expectations. Longtime manufactured housing supply businessman and lobbyist for the MH industry, Ken Cashin, helped a state committee design the program, then established a company that won the contract to install the anchors. His company, Windstorm Mitigation, Inc., receives $1,330 for installing tie-downs for each manufactured home serviced. The program does not require the anchors to comply with new home construction standards, allowing the company to decide how many devices can be installed. Critics charge that some homes receiving the anchors would not survive a strong storm anyhow, and that others are not being sufficiently anchored to bring them up to today’s standards. Cashin counters that many of the older manufactured homes have plumbing and wiring that prevent adequate anchoring, and sometimes utility sheds and concrete steps block access. Others have I-beams too low to allow stabilizer bars to be installed. “There’s not a home out there that can be retrofitted to meet the letter of 15c,” Cashin said, referring to the state rule governing mobile home installations. “This is not a code compliance program, it’s a property protection program.” His contract was renewed last month for five more years, but now he will receive $60 for each anchoring system and $65 for each stabilizing device instead of a flat $1,330 for each home serviced. Cashin continues to believe retrofitting reduces the damage from hurricanes. “Worrying about whether this is cost effective doesn’t make sense,” he said.
(Photo credit: Tyler TJomsland/Times)