In Parker, Florida, My Panhandle reports that “a revised mobile home ordinance was introduced. The ordinance doesn’t allow for the expansion of mobile home parks, mobile homes in residential areas, and restricts how many mobile homes can come into a park. It also requires all mobile home or RV parks to upgrade the area with sidewalks and paved streets. Modular homes will be allowed in residential areas.
This was just the introduction however and the ordinance is yet to have its first hearing. In the meantime a moratorium is in place for the city of Parker.”
In Odessa, TX OAOnline headline announced that “Hamilton wants mobile home moratorium.” The terminology errors are in the original1 in both articles.
The OAOnline article begins by stating “As the city is working to bring more development to the area, one council member made a suggestion last week to stop the allowance of trailer homes to help bring about more housing development.
District 1 Council Member Malcolm Hamilton said during a meeting last week he would like to see a moratorium placed on mobile home permits in his district for at least two years, meaning no permits would be issued for any new mobile homes.
Hamilton’s district had seen 120 trailer home permits granted for District 1 from 2018 to 2019, more than half of all trailer home permits issued in that time frame. One district, District 4, didn’t have any granted at all. And more than 80 percent of those permits issued in District 1 were issued south of Second Street.”
The Texas Manufactured Housing Association (TMHA) and the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) have been asked to respond. It should be noted that TMHA routinely replies promptly, albeit at times it is off the record. MHI for many years responded promptly, but more recently has stood mute when asked about issues like this one that fly in the face of their claims of advancing the interests of manufactured housing.
Neither TMHA nor MHI has responded to inquiries about these incidents, but members and affiliates have weighed in, as is reflected in their on-the-record comments below.
Legacy Housing, FMHA, and Jessup Housing Partner React
Lance Inderman of “Mobile Home Militia” fame and a successful manufactured home retailer and partner in independent HUD Code producer Jessup Housing, was the first to weigh in with MHProNews.
“First I have heard of it, everyday we here2 of another small town zoning/redlining us out. The HUD code is definitely in jeopardy. Rodney handles our product out there and is correct,” in sharing that firm’s concerns, Inderman said in an emailed, on the record statement. Inderman copied DJ Pendleton and others in his reply. More was said, but the balance was not for publication.
Legacy Housing’s General Counsel and Executive Vice President Neal Suit told MHProNews that, “We were not aware of this specific instance, but it’s always disappointing when zoning is changed to prevent affordable housing options, especially when such decisions are often based on outdated notions about factory-built homes. Legacy still believes that the affordability crunch we are seeing in housing across the country means that over time state, city, and local governments will realize that today’s manufactured homes provide quality, cost-effective housing to their residents, and that will result in a recognition that manufactured housing has to be a vital part of the housing solution.”
In a follow up, Legacy’s attorney declined to comment about MHI’s lack of response on this and similar zoning and placement related issues.
Jim Ayotte, the Florida Manufactured Housing Association (FMHA) executive director told MHProNews: “Thanks for bringing the City of Parker proposed ordinance to my attention. The proposed ordinance is unfortunate and demonstrates a lack of understanding by City officials about the quality, durability and affordability of today’s manufactured housing. Citizens are attempting to rebuild their homes and lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael and the proposed ordinance will further frustrate their efforts by needlessly increasing the cost of housing. Fortunately, Florida law does not allow local governments to enact land use regulations that discriminate against housing based on whether the home is built in a factory or on site. FMHA will attempt to work with the City of Parker to craft an ordinance that treats all housing, including manufactured housing, equally.”
In a follow up, Ayotte also declined to comment about MHI’s lack of response and other related issues to the enhanced preemption provision of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000.
Other Responses to Troubling Manufactured Home Ban Trend
Teresa Payne at HUD and their media relations office are both mute on these two cases, as they were on the Bryan, TX matter. That flies in the face of the public efforts of HUD Secretary Ben Carson to promote the opposite of what these municipalities are attempting/planning to do. The thrust of the Carson-led Innovative Housing Showcase (IHS) in June 2019 was to help cities realize that their stance towards manufactured homes and other solutions was outdated. See Secretary Carson’s video comments and related, linked here.
But sources in and with ties to HUD have told MHProNews that Dr. Carson may not have been briefed on the enhanced preemption provision of the MHIA. Congressional sources have similarly told MHProNews that they have the same impression, namely, that Secretary Carson has not been briefed on federal Enhanced Preemption. More on HUD and their ‘establishment’ in a planned, upcoming exclusive report.
MHARR has raised related concerns, see that report, linked below.
However, on these specific cases Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) has not yet formally commented.
But a source with MHARR indicated they are troubled by the continued practice of other manufactured housing associations – who are supposed to be on the front-line of such matters, and should be addressing it with those cities and HUD – have often not done so.
It is worth noting that MHARR has offered to collaborate with state associations in battling specific cases such as these. For more on that see, the report below. It should be noted that MHARR is a production, not a post-production, association. So logically, they would be correct in saying that it is the state and the ‘umbrella’ trade group that would bear this responsibility, along with the businesses that are specifically being impacted.
HUD Code = Discrimination Code?
This issue of increasing levels of efforts by local jurisdictions to push back, limit, or outright ban manufactured housing has been developing for years. Jan Hollingsworth, an award-winning journalist, detailed examples of this from various states with insights from state association and front-line retailers. Hollingworth’s report is a useful backdrop to this ongoing and developing issue.
Marty Lavin has told MHProNews that from his vantage point the HUD Code has long been treated as a building code that has been discriminated against. Here is how MHI award-winner Lavin phrased it.
MHProNews has detailed that despite their posturing to promote and defend the industry, on Bryan, TX, these recent cases, and other incidents MHProNews has investigated, MHI has been silent. Sources, for example, in Bryan, TX have told MHProNews that no one with MHI contacted them, but MHARR and some other industry voices had done so.
What is particularly problematic is that MHProNews, in conjunction with MHARR, made primarily emailed outreaches to public officials in Washington, Indiana, and in Clearlake, CA. They too were planning such bans. Once presented with information about enhanced preemption and other details, both of those municipalities backed off. Clearlake’s city official thanked MHProNews for the information that sparked their reversal, see that in the second half of the article linked here.
Richard L “Rick” Robinson, Senior Vice President/General Counsel, Manufactured Housing Institute, is aware of enhanced preemption, as the screen capture of a letter by MHI’s attorney reflects below.
A more detailed look at what Robinson and MHI know and what their stance is on this topic is linked here.
Since that report above was published, the downturn in sales, production and shipments has continued.
A comparison of how MHI and MHARR have handled this issue of declining production during an affordable housing crisis is linked below.
MHI continues – deliberately – in their fail to act, for whatever motivation(s). In fact, as the report linked here reflects, they have recently removed from the visible pages on their website videos previously posted that touted HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s praise and support for manufactured homes. How can one explain that, other than the increasingly obvious concern that they are working to stymie industry growth and recovery?
Summary and Analysis
Regardless of their words, the duration and repetitive nature of the ‘big boys’ that dominate the Arlington, VA based trade association all logically point to the conclusion that MHI and their masters accept the status quo.
That begs the question, who benefits from the status quo? What the status quo has yielded is consolidation. That consolidation benefits the larger firms at the expense of smaller ones. Lower sales levels mean that retailers and producers, communities with lower vs higher occupancy rates, would sell for less than their intrinsic value absent these market obstacles.
Even if MHI suddenly reposted the Carson video, or began to tout enhanced preemption robustly themselves, it would arguably be as a result of ongoing internal pressures and outside pushback from MHARR, MHProNews and others.
These are among the reasons that some are pressing legislators and public officials to publicly investigate, using subpoena powers:
· The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) for allegations of deceptive trade practices and their apparent role in market manipulation in violation of antitrust and other laws. See the report linked here.
· Public hearings about certain manufactured home community operators that have behaved in problematic ways that are harmful to the manufactured home industry. Those operations routinely have ties to MHI. See a new report, linked here.
· Public hearings with respect to the Berkshire Hathaway brands operating in the manufactured home industry. See report linked here, and here.
· Public hearings with respect to HUD, whose staff are allegedly failing to act as required by federal law, and who have purportedly failed to inform HUD Secretary Carson about enhanced preemption and other nuances of existing law.
To learn more, see the links and related reports, below and herein. The pattern is increasingly clear, and there is no evidence that MHI and their big boy brands have any intention to change any time soon.
That’s this installment of “Innovation – Information – Inspiration for Industry Professionals,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, commentary.)
Footnote: 1) Terminology errors are in the original mainstream media report. Mobile homes are not manufactured homes.
2) Should be hear vs. here, typo in the original email. MHProNews – and the mainstream media – has typos too.
(Image credits and information are as shown above, and when provided by third parties, are shared under fair use guidelines.)
Submitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.com.