MHI Participates in MHCC Committee this Week

For the second time this year, the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) convened in Arlington, VA on October 27-28.

During the two day meeting, the full MHCC and its subcommittees considered numerous proposals to update the Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards, listened to testimony from the public, and participated in lively discussion with HUD about the MHCC’s by-laws, charter, its organizational and operational structure and its priorities.

After an open debate by committee members and the public on both MHI and HUD proposed fire sprinkler standards, the MHCC voted unanimously to ask HUD to provide the committee with its policy on preemption of the Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards noting that HUD’s policy is outdated and its efforts to protect and defend preemption has eroded over the last 20 years.

MHI Executive Vice President Thayer Long testified before the committee, expressing MHI’s strong support for an open, transparent and public process that includes participation by all parties, including members of the public. He cautioned HUD that in its efforts to streamline the process, it should not overlook the value of the collective knowledge and contributions of all those who take the time to participate. Long urged support for MHI’s proposal on fire sprinklers, and said the committee should defer action on formaldehyde and energy proposals.

Long extended special thanks and appreciation on behalf of MHI to those leaving the committee, including, MHI members Bill Farish, Clayton Homes, the long time Chair of the MHCC; Susan Brenton, Manufactured Housing Communities of Arizona; and Doug Gorman of Home-Mart, Inc.

The MHCC subcommittee on Technical Structures and Design debated an MHI proposal for a “where required” uniform sprinkler standard, and amended it to specifically exclude fire sprinkler systems from the HUD-Code except when a manufacturer elects to provide one. Because of a lack of consensus on the language and opposition by some on the full MHCC committee, the full committee voted to table the amendment until HUD can give more guidance on preemption and until members of the subcommittee can view fire safety data, and consider alternative language. The committee set a deadline to reconsider the issue at the next meeting scheduled for early next year.

MHCC subcommittees considered a number of standards changes, in addition to fire sprinkler standards, including fireplace and crawlspace ventilation, ground anchor testing protocol, and universal accessibility standards, energy conservation and formaldehyde emissions, and tank-less water heaters. The subcommittees met for over five hours to hammer out technical issues on the proposals, and agreed on additional subcommittee meetings by teleconference before the end of the year to finish their work. With the exception of formaldehyde and energy standards which will be considered when new regulations are issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DOE), the full MHCC will vote on these items early next year.

HUD outlined its priorities and plans for organizing and administering the MHCC, and announced plans to have two, rather than one, face-to-face meetings of the MHCC each year. The Administering Officer for the MHCC, Robert Solomon, outlined a plan to get the committee back on a two-year code setting cycle.

HUD said it would ensure openness and transparency in the MHCC process and that it would allow for public participation, in both subcommittees and in the full committees. While reiterating that HUD, as the regulator, will continue to set priorities for HUD action on revisions to the standards, it wants to hear from the MHCC and it will consider the most feasible method to accomplish this.

HUD said that new procedures for timely action, and openness and transparency will enhance HUD’s responsibilities under the manufactured housing program. HUD said it would consider recommendations by the MHCC to change the bylaws to more accurately reflect the statutory responsibilities of the MHCC to make recommendations for changes to both the construction standards and the procedural and enforcement regulations.

HUD’s legal counsel briefed the committee on the delicate balancing act the department must play to meet the dual and sometimes conflicting statutory requirements in the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act that require HUD to administer the committee in a manner consistent with other consensus standards-setting processes and procedures for administering a Federal Advisory Committee. HUD said it intends to do a better job to meet these responsibilities to ensure a functioning and viable MHCC.

The next meeting of the MHCC will be by teleconference in January or February of 2011. The next face-to-face meeting will be in April or May of 2011.

For more information, MHI members can contact MHI Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Lois Starkey at

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