“In mid-December, Pamela Beck Danner, Administrator of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Manufactured Housing Programs was reassigned and Program Analyst Lois Starkey was let go from the agency,” per a release from the Florida Manufactured Housing Association (FMHA) to the Daily Business News. “Teresa Payne, the Deputy Administrator, will head the program on an interim basis.”
“This capped a year of mounting tension between the industry and the administrator over the continued expansion of regulatory requirements,” per the FMHA.
“With the election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States, the manufactured housing industry was optimistic that the continued expansion of regulation by the Manufactured Housing program administrator would soon come to an end. Unfortunately, this did not happen,” their statement read.
“While other federal agencies heeded President Trump’s series of Executive Orders to review, modify and/or repeal existing regulations that “eliminate jobs or inhibit job creation, are outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective, or impose costs that exceed benefits,” the Office of Manufactured Housing Programs continued to operate like it was business as usual. There are many examples of HUD’s overregulation, but the most egregious example in Florida was the new Alternative Construction (AC) approval requirement for manufactured homes built with a carport-ready design (host beam).”
The FMHA’s statement reflect a sentiment privately expressed by other state associations leaders, and industry business professionals, shared with MHProNews.
I can’t improve on what Mark Weiss [MHARR President and CEO] has indicated below: “While MHARR does not claim to speak for the entire industry, we have made it clear that after years of abuse by federal regulators acting contrary to the law and empowering entrenched revenue-driven contractors to target the industry, the new era of regulatory deconstruction being ushered-in by the Trump Administration offers a profound opportunity that must not be missed or squandered.
Those concerns voiced about Danner in 2017 are not limited to those linked from this page.
First, the readers digest version, then the details. Last week, the WVHI sent out their newsletter with a column apparently written by their co-president, George Gunnell. Gunnell is an RVP for Clayton Homes. That article and others in the same newsletter indicated that MHI wanted Pam Danner ousted from her role at HUD.
The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) published a detailed list of over two dozen reasons why Danner needed to go.
MHARR has culminated years of critiques with several examples of HUD overreach, as well as failure to enforce federal preemption, etc..
By comparison to the public positions noted from others – and notably silent for much of 2017 about Danner – was the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).
After months of public and private pressure from others in the industry, as the linked examples reflect, MHI finally began to pivot against Danner.
MHI postured filed complaints and a congressional maneuver, without making a specific, oddly without making a specific and sustained call for Danner’s removal.
Further, MHI ducked for months specific requests for comments on the Danner controversy. Sources told MHProNews in the first half of 2017, that Danner was a topic they did not want to raise. If those sources are all accurate, why not?
Prior to MHI’s ‘photo op’ meeting with Dr. Ben Carson, MHProNews’ sources in D.C. informed us what was about to occur. Those sources were clear that the shift was not due to MHI, but was due to input from others in the industry. That’s proven by the article, linked below.
So what explained MHI’s wishy-washy behavior with respect to Danner? What explained the as yet still unexplained by MHI move of Lois Starkey from MHI to HUD?
Is the HUD issue part of a larger apparent MHI pattern that harms independents, and favors corporate giants? Why did MHI initially support Vic De Rose, and then later switch to supporting Pam Danner?
Community mogul and investment guru, Sam Zell has made statements that could easily be applied to MHI’s behavior.
The DOE issue is another example of how MHI first took one position, and then later flip-flopped under consistent, public and private industry pressure. Which should beg the question, how can MHI so consistently be wrong in its initially policy stance?
FMHA’s Closing Thoughts on Danner
The FMHA release outlines a factual example with respect to onsite completion in their state, spotlighting why HUD’s overreach under Danner term at HUD’s manufactured housing program office was harmful to the industry.
“Since the carport AC [alternative construction] approval cannot be implemented retroactively, HUD’s new requirement is designed to address a problem that does not exist. Hopefully, HUD will no longer pursue this unnecessary and costly regulation and the new program administrator will ultimately rescind this misguided policy,” said FMHA.
“The shake-up at HUD provides the industry with an opportunity to push for the appointment of a non-career administrator. A non-career administrator is a statutory requirement of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000. The importance of a non-career administrator cannot be understated,” said FMHA, a point that MHARR, and others have called for many years.
“A non-career administrator will not only bring fresh eyes and a new perspective to the federal program, he or she will not be encumbered by the existing bureaucratic morass that has controlled the federal program and stifled the growth of the industry for the past 41 years.”
Knowingly or not, the FMHA statement contradicts what MHI communicated in 2014, publicly and privately taking a ‘it’s no big deal’ stance that Danner was a career administrator. FMHA’s viewpoint on the value of having a non-career administrator is similar to that of others, and comports with the letter of the law.
FMHA’s release is seen by those who’ve opposed Danner as a useful, additional, and public voice against Danner’s tenure at HUD.
Intended or not, the FMHA statement has intellectually taken issue with some of MHI’s past positions on Danner. Those positions with respect to HUD, as FMHA’s release pointed out, have been harmful to the industry.
I have been a vocal critic of HUD’s Alternative Construction (AC) approval for carport-ready homes. I don’t believe an AC approval for homes built with a host beam is warranted or that the AC approval process is the proper regulatory procedure. I communicated my concerns to Pamela Danner, Administrator of the federal manufactured housing program in a face-to-face meeting.
FMHA’s veteran, award-winning executive director, Jim Ayotte, has taken a very nuanced position publicly. Ayotte explained how he saying looks at the dynamics at play, the known facts, and they then take the best possible position based upon those elements. To see that from Ayotte in his own words, click his statement to MHProNews, above.
Disclosure: this analysis or others by MHProNews, may or may not be the same as what others would state themselves if directly asked. In no way does the Daily Business News imply that we are speaking for any other organization. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)
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Submitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.com.