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White House Announces Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers To Affordable Housing

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MHARR participated in a conference call on June 25, 2019, conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), during which White House officials announced the impending issuance of an Executive Order (EO) to create a “White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing.” While the substance of the EO – which, as detailed below, is fully consistent with and reflects MHARR policy objectives as advanced before the Administration, Congress and HUD – was described during the conference call, that call, as repeatedly emphasized by the same White House Officials, was specifically “off the record.” MHARR, in accordance with that request, withheld publication on this initiative until it was publicly announced and issued by the White House (see HUD Press Release attached).

Consistent with MHARR’s fundamental focus on the costs imposed by unnecessary and unreasonable regulatory mandates, as well as its more recent initiative and undertaking to combat discriminatory restrictive and exclusionary local zoning mandates that effectively ban HUD-regulated manufactured housing from large areas of the nation, the President’s Executive Order, specifically acknowledges that “federal, state [and] local … governments impose a multitude of regulatory barriers – laws, regulations and administrative practices – that hinder the development of housing.”  The EO then goes on to expressly recognize types of regulatory actions – which have been prioritized for action and opposition by MHARR — that continue to hinder both the affordability and availability of federally-regulated manufactured housing, stating: “These regulatory barriers include – overly restrictive zoning and growth management controls … excessive energy … efficiency mandates [and] outdated manufactured housing regulations and restrictions.”  (Emphasis added).

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Indeed, the EO’s specific emphasis on zoning and other “outdated … restrictions” on federally-regulated manufactured housing is fully consistent with an April 24, 2019 communication from MHARR to Secretary Carson, calling on HUD to “utilize its resources to research, study and analyze such discriminatory and exclusionary zoning and its local and national impacts on the availability of affordable [manufactured] housing and homeownership in light of relevant national housing policies.” The same communication calls on HUD to exercise its authority under the enhanced federal preemption language of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 to either eliminate or limit such baseless restrictions.  And, indeed, in response to an inquiry from MHProNews Publisher L.A. Tony Kovach, it appears that the specific issue of federal preemption will be “on the table” in this process.

Under the EO, the White House Council will be chaired by Secretary Carson and will consist of representatives from eight federal agencies, including agencies that either currently regulate matters affecting manufactured housing – i.e., HUD and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – or seek to regulate aspects of manufactured housing – i.e., the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).  Among other things as set forth in the EO, the Council will seek to identify and then “reduce and streamline statutory, regulatory and administrative burdens at all levels of government that inhibit the development of affordable housing.”  This will lead to the development of specific initiatives designed to reduce the targeted federal, state and local regulatory barriers and a report to President Trump within the next twelve months regarding “the Council’s implementation of … this order.”

The EO, accordingly, presents a potentially unequalled opportunity for the specific advancement of policy objectives that MHARR has been tasked with advancing, including, but not limited to: (1) the full and complete implementation of all reform aspects of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000; (2) the elimination of unnecessary regulatory burdens imposed on manufactured housing and manufactured housing consumers by HUD in accordance with Executive Orders 13771 and 13777; (3) the elimination or modification of baseless and discriminatory zoning restrictions on manufactured housing, including both single lots and communities; and (4) other related issues involving regulatory impediments to the availability and affordability of HUD-regulated manufactured housing.

In addition, the initiative established by the EO underscores that recent legislation introduced in Congress to supposedly “modernize” manufactured housing – but which would, in reality, undermine and harm existing, inherently affordable HUD Code manufactured housing – is unnecessary and should not go forward, as set forth by MHARR in its June 24, 2019 Memorandum entitled “Unnecessary/Damaging Bills Introduced in Congress.”

MHARR will continue to keep you apprised of developments related to this important Administration initiative.

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