This report will be broken into four distinctive sections after this introduction.
- Part I. The original White House press release to MHProNews and others in media that established the White House Council on Affordable Housing. Let’s note that the announcement itself has several useful facts and insights.
- Part II. The press release to MHProNews plus the official comments filed by the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) for the requested for information (RFI) which are due on January 21, 2020. While these are quite different than what MHProNews plans to submit, MHARR’s comments letter will likely among be the most detailed and substantive from the manufactured housing industry. It is one reason why we held this report for Saturday reading, because it’s meaty and laced with references.
- Part III. The RFI, which is useful for those who plan to submit their own comments. When this article was being drafted, there were only 71 total comments posted by the feds. What that could mean to you is that your comments may be quite likely to attract serious attention.
- Part IV. MHProNews Analysis, Commentary and Related Tips, beyond what’s shown above. As usual, we want to maximize your potential impact.
With that plan for this report, let’s begin with the original White House Press Release.
Executive Order Establishing a White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing
ECONOMY & JOBS
Issued on: June 25, 2019
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Purpose. For many Americans, access to affordable housing is becoming far too difficult. Rising housing costs are forcing families to dedicate larger shares of their monthly incomes to housing. In 2017, approximately 37 million renter and owner households spent more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing, with more than 18 million spending more than half of their incomes on housing. Between 2001 and 2017, the number of renter households allocating more than half of their incomes toward rent increased by nearly 45 percent. These rising costs are leaving families with fewer resources for necessities such as food, healthcare, clothing, education, and transportation, negatively affecting their quality of life and hindering their access to economic opportunity.
Driving the rise in housing costs is a lack of housing supply to meet demand. Federal, State, local, and tribal governments impose a multitude of regulatory barriers — laws, regulations, and administrative practices — that hinder the development of housing. These regulatory barriers include: overly restrictive zoning and growth management controls; rent controls; cumbersome building and rehabilitation codes; excessive energy and water efficiency mandates; unreasonable maximum-density allowances; historic preservation requirements; overly burdensome wetland or environmental regulations; outdated manufactured-housing regulations and restrictions; undue parking requirements; cumbersome and time-consuming permitting and review procedures; tax policies that discourage investment or reinvestment; overly complex labor requirements; and inordinate impact or developer fees. These regulatory barriers increase the costs associated with development, and, as a result, drive down the supply of affordable housing. They are the leading factor in the growth of housing prices across metropolitan areas in the United States. Many of the markets with the most severe shortages in affordable housing contend with the most restrictive State and local regulatory barriers to development.
These regulatory barriers impede our Nation’s economic growth. Hardworking American families struggle to live in markets where there is an insufficient supply of housing — even in markets generating a significant number of jobs. One recent study suggests that certain regulatory restrictions on housing supply have forced workers to live far away from high-productivity areas with the best available jobs, creating a geographic misallocation of labor between cities that may have decreased the annual economic growth rate in the United States by 36 percent between 1964 and 2009.
Low- and middle-income Americans are often hit the hardest by regulatory barriers to housing development. High housing costs place strains on household budgets, limit educational opportunities, impair workforce mobility, slow job creation, and increase financial risks. Furthermore, studies have consistently identified high housing prices as a primary determinant of homelessness, and research has directly linked more stringent housing market regulation to higher homelessness rates.
To help these populations, in 2018, the Federal Government invested more than $46 billion in rental assistance programs for low-income families — much of which grows at approximately 3 percent per annum while assisting a fixed number of households. The Federal Government provides additional housing support through the tax code, with over $9.1 billion in tax expenditures in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) to developers of low-income housing. Generally, these Federal tax dollars are focused disproportionately on areas with high-cost and highly regulated housing markets.
But to improve housing affordability in a truly sustainable manner, we need innovative solutions — not simply increases in spending and subsidies for Federal housing. These solutions must address the regulatory barriers that are inhibiting the development of housing. If we fail to act, Federal subsidies will only continue to mask the true cost of these onerous regulatory barriers, and, as a result, many Americans will not be able to access the opportunities they deserve.
Sec. 2. Policy. It shall be the policy of my Administration to work with Federal, State, local, tribal, and private sector leaders to address, reduce, and remove the multitude of overly burdensome regulatory barriers that artificially raise the cost of housing development and help to cause the lack of housing supply. Increasing the supply of housing by removing overly burdensome regulatory barriers will reduce housing costs, boost economic growth, and provide more Americans with opportunities for economic mobility. In addition, it will strengthen American communities and the quality of services offered in them by allowing hardworking Americans to live in or near the communities they serve.
Sec. 3. White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing. There is hereby established a White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing (Council). The Council shall be chaired by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, or his designee. The Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, or their designees, shall be Vice Chairs.
(a) Membership. In addition to the Chair and Vice Chairs, the Council shall consist of the following officials, or their designees:
(i) the Secretary of the Treasury;
(ii) the Secretary of the Interior;
(iii) the Secretary of Agriculture;
(iv) the Secretary of Labor;
(v) the Secretary of Transportation;
(vi) the Secretary of Energy;
(vii) the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency;
(viii) the Director of the Office of Management and Budget;
(ix) the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers;
(x) the Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs; and
(xi) the heads of such other executive departments and agencies (agencies) and offices as the President, Chair, or Vice Chairs may, from time to time, designate or invite, as appropriate.
(b) Administration. The Vice Chairs shall convene regular meetings of the Council, determine its agenda, and direct its work with the oversight of and in consultation with the Chair. The Department of Housing and Urban Development shall provide funding and administrative support for the Council.
Sec. 4. Mission and Functions of the Council. The Council shall work across agencies and offices, with consideration of existing initiatives, to:
(a) solicit feedback from State, local, and tribal government officials, as well as relevant private-sector stakeholders, including developers, homebuilders, creditors, real estate professionals, manufacturers, academic researchers, renters, advocates, and homeowners, to:
(i) identify Federal, State, local, and tribal laws, regulations, and administrative practices that artificially raise the costs of housing development and contribute to shortages in housing supply, and
(ii) identify practices and strategies that most successfully reduce and remove burdensome Federal, State, local, and tribal laws, regulations, and administrative practices that artificially raise the costs of housing development, while highlighting actors that successfully implement such practices and strategies;
(b) evaluate and quantify the effect that various Federal, State, local, and tribal regulatory barriers have on affordable housing development, and the economy in general, and identify ways to improve the data available to the public and private researchers who evaluate such effects, without violating privacy laws or creating unnecessary burdens;
(c) identify and assess the actions each agency can take under existing authorities to minimize Federal regulatory barriers that unnecessarily raise the costs of housing development;
(d) assess the actions each agency can take under existing authorities to align, support, and encourage State, local, and tribal efforts to reduce regulatory barriers that unnecessarily raise the costs of housing development; and
(e) recommend Federal, State, local, and tribal actions and policies that would:
(i) reduce and streamline statutory, regulatory, and administrative burdens at all levels of government that inhibit the development of affordable housing, and
(ii) encourage State, local, and tribal governments to reduce regulatory barriers to the development of affordable housing.
Sec. 5. Reports. The Vice Chairs, on behalf of the Council, and with the oversight of and in consultation with the Chair, shall:
(a) within 12 months of the date of this order, submit to the President a report on the Council’s implementation of section 4 of this order; and
(b) submit to the President any subsequent report that the President may request or that the Council may deem appropriate.
Sec. 6. Agency Participation and Response. The heads of agencies and offices shall provide such assistance and information to the Council, consistent with applicable law, as may be necessary to carry out the functions of this order.
Sec. 7. Termination. The Council shall terminate on January 21, 2021, unless extended by the President.
Sec. 8. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
DONALD J. TRUMP
THE WHITE HOUSE,
June 25, 2019.
MHARR White House Comments Seek Decisive Action on Discriminatory Regulatory Barriers
JANUARY 10, 2020
TO: HUD CODE INDUSTRY MANUFACTURERS, RETAILERS, COMMUNITIES, FINANCING COMPANIES AND STATE ASSOCIATIONS
FROM: MARK WEISS, PRESIDENT & CEO
RE: MHARR WHITE HOUSE COMMENTS SEEK DECISIVE ACTION ON DISCRIMINATORY REGULATORY BARRIERS
Attached for your review, information and use, if you so wish, are comprehensive comments filed on January 10, 2020 by the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) with the White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing. The comments respond to a Request for Information (RFI) concerning such regulatory barriers published by HUD in the Federal Register on November 22, 2019.
The White House Council, established pursuant to an Executive Order issued by President Trump on June 25, 2019, (EO 13878), is tasked with formulating approaches to “address, reduce and remove the multitude of overly burdensome regulatory barriers” at the federal, state and local level, including zoning restrictions and “excessive” energy mandates “that artificially raise the cost of housing” and “cause the lack of housing supply.” The RFI, as noted by MHARR at the time of its publication (see, November 25, 2019 MHARR Memorandum, “White House Council Requests Input on Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing”), specifically seeks input concerning regulatory burdens that discriminatorily impact federally-regulated manufactured housing and manufactured housing consumers.
Given the importance of this matter, we encourage industry members and state associations to submit their own individual comments as well. To facilitate such comments and a strong industry response to the November 22, 2019 RFI, we are providing these comments in advance of the January 21, 2020 RFI response deadline, and further encourage you to utilize or incorporate all or any part of these comments as – or as part of – your own submission.
We will continue to keep you informed of developments relating to the RFI and White House Council as circumstances warrant.
President & CEO
Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR)
1331 Pennsylvania Ave N.W., Suite 512
Washington D.C. 20004
Docket ID: HUD-2019-0092 Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
FR-6187-N-01 Consistent with President Trump’s Executive Order 13878, ‘‘Establishing a White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing; Request for Information raise the costs of affordable housing development and contribute to shortages in housing supply.
As of the time this report is being filed, there were 68 Comments Received, per the Regulations.gov website.
Regulations Division, Office of General Counsel, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW, Room 10276, Washington, DC 20410-0500. Communications must refer to the above docket number and title. There are two methods for submitting public comments. All submissions must refer to the above docket number and title.
- Electronic Submission of Comments. Interested persons may submit comments electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. HUD strongly encourages commenters to submit their feedback and recommendations electronically. Electronic submission of comments allows the commenter maximum time to prepare and submit a response, ensures timely receipt by HUD, and enables HUD to make comments immediately available to the public. Comments submitted electronically through the http://www.regulations.gov website can be viewed by other commenters and interested members of the public. Commenters should follow the instructions provided on that site to submit comments electronically.
To receive consideration as public comments, responses must be submitted through one of the two methods specified above.
- Submission of Comments by Mail. Comments may be submitted by mail to the Regulations Division, Office of General Counsel, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW, Room 10276, Washington, DC 20410-0500.
Notice: MHProNews Tip #1. It is one thing to reference another document or link to it. But if you want your comments to stand out, you should make your comments uniquely your own. By contrast, if you are just using a mass email system, as the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) encourages, this is what the Regulations.gov website does:
“Mass Mail Campaign 1: Comment Submitted by Barbara Hames, Total as of 12/16/2019: 118
- Hames Homes is a three generation family business in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We have sold over 11,000 homes to working folks in Eastern Iowa in our 50 years in business. As a…”
It is minimally personalized, but when the guts come from some other party, it is shown by the feds as “a mass mail campaign,” which they view as ‘astroturfing.’ As MHProNews has previously reported, the federal government has made it clear that such regulatory comments are a vote. It is the quality of the comments, stated the Regulations site, not a mass of nearly identical messages, that will result in attention to a given comment.
While MHI may get some social glue or other similar benefit from such an astroturfing campaign, the impact with the organization such nearly identical comments goes to is effectively not much different than if one comment had arrived. The proof of that is reflected in the example above and what follows.
Note that the first such form-letter or Astroturfed comment was not marked as a mass mail by the Regulations website, precisely because it was the first. That came from Ken Anderson with the MHIAZ, Arizona’s manufactured housing state association. Anderson’s statement is linked here as a download and appears to be written mostly be the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI). After the introduction, the body of the comments are nearly identical to Hames’ comments.
Notice: All submissions must refer to the…docket number and title.
Docket No. FR-6187-N-01
Docket Number: HUD-2019-0092
White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing; Request for Information
Part IV. MHProNews Analysis, Commentary and Related Tips, beyond what’s shown above.
Our working plan is as follows.
We’ll plan to do a comments letter that will include links to various reports we’ve already published.
It will begin with reports that establish why manufactured housing should be robustly used. The link below covers research that spans over 2 decades.
The next report we’ll likely provide will be our analysis of the Realtor University data from Scholastica ‘Gay’ Cororaton, Certified Business Economist (CBE).
The report below is from 2018:
See report starting page 48:
We’ll then plan to reference the 2011 HUD PD&R that specifically studied manufactured housing and its impact on conventional housing values right next door. The short version of that university level research is this. There was no negative impact on housing values, which is the common fear.
Regulatory Barriers to Manufactured Housing Placement in Urban Communities
The next step will be a reference to this report on Value Penguin, which explains among other facts that failure to provide affordable housing near where it is needed costs the nation some $2 trillion annually in lost GDP.
Note that the Mercatus Center at George Mason University also referenced one of the research items mentioned in the report above, as part of their comments for this Docket No. FR-6187-N-01.
We will stress the correct terminology “enhanced preemption” and will reference reports like the ones linked below.
Then, we’ll answer the question that many who would or do ask who’ve dug that deeply into the regulatory comments. Why is it that with so much good information supporting manufactured homes, that they aren’t already more in use?
Some examples of that research is found at the links below.
We will then explain that there is arguably prima facie evidence of market rigging, that includes some public officials as well as individuals and organizations inside manufactured housing. Those individuals and organization merit referrals to the appropriate agencies for investigation, but such an investigation shouldn’t stop the implementation of good existing laws.
That plan combined with whatever someone might find of use from MHARR or others will make for a compelling case. It then becomes a question of how serious the White House, HUD staff and other federal officials are on this issue.
For a clue on that, see MHARR’s initial report on this topic linked below.
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An off property appointment delayed this normally morning report. As usual, there is always more information and insights ahead. That’s all she wrote for this installment of manufactured housing “Industry News, Tips and Views Pros Can Use“ © – MHVille’s runaway #1 news source, where “We Provide, You Decide.” © (News, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary.) Notice: all third party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.
Submitted by Soheyla Kovach for MHProNews.com.Soheyla is a co-founder and managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. Connect with us on LinkedIn here and here.
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The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.