MHARR Advances Realistic Response To Industry Decline

Washington, D.C., August 5, 2011 – The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) reports that according to official statistics compiled on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), manufactured housing production continues to decline in 2011.  Just-released statistics show that in June 2011, HUD Code manufacturers produced 5,021 homes, down from the 5,437 HUD Code homes produced in June 2010, representing a corresponding month decline of -7.6%.  Cumulative production during 2011, to the end of June, stands at 23,152 homes, a decline of -12.3% from the cumulative industry production of 26,405 homes during the same period last year.

To effectively confront a decline of this magnitude – and, more importantly, the sustained decline in industry production since 1998 — requires a realistic approach that confronts the causes of the decline at their root level, not “feel good” rhetoric.  Thus, recent positive comparisons between the decline and current condition of the HUD Code manufactured housing industry and the decline and current condition of the site-built housing industry are not only irrelevant, but are misleading and a poor substitute for a targeted and workable plan to revive the industry.

As industry commentators have already pointed out, any comparison of the HUD Code market share relative to site-built housing, is meaningless and a distraction.  The decline of the two sectors is simply not comparable.  The site-built housing decline that began in the late-2000’s followed an extended boom in that market and has generally paralleled the condition of the broader economy.  By contrast, sharp declines in HUD Code production began in 1998 and have continued ever since, despite a good or recovering economy during much of that period. Consequently, the condition of the manufactured housing industry has been much worse for a much longer period of time, as reflected by the absolute (i.e., not relative) production statistics, with serious declines continuing in 2011.

Fortunately, though, the real issues facing the industry are now coming to a head for proper resolution, because of an aggressive and sharply-focused MHARR initiative in Congress, designed to address their root causes.  The overriding goal of this initiative, from its inception, has been to break the 10-year logjam on the implementation of relevant laws (most particularly the manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000) and advance the cause of the industry and its consumers in the nation’s capital.  And now, after ten months of intensive engagement with Congress, it appears that this effort is beginning to pay tangible dividends.

For the first time in ten years, federal regulators, as a result of this congressional initiative, have come under specific scrutiny by Congress regarding non-compliance with relevant laws.  In the process, Congress has realized the need for comprehensive intervention and engagement on these matters, as was demonstrated at a July 20, 2011 mark-up session of the House Financial Services Committee (the authorizing committee for the HUD program) when leaders from both parties called for congressional action to address the “unfair disadvantage” faced by the industry and manufactured homebuyers.  

It is this ongoing “unfair disadvantage” – shorthand for discrimination against the industry and its homebuyers, which the 2000 law was designed to correct — that lies at the root of nearly all the problems that have fueled the industry’s decline, and must be corrected by Congress.

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.

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