In collaboration with the Innovative Housing Showcase hosted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Manufactured Housing Institute's (MHI's) "Homes on the Hill" advocacy initiative made an inspired return to Washington, D.C. from Tuesday, June 7 to Sunday, June 12, and Cavco was right there to support this important effort. After being sidelined by the pandemic since the 2019 inaugural event, the MHI once again showcased the value of manufactured homes to policymakers, affordable housing influencers and supporters, the media and consumers by staging three HUD-Code homes on the National Mall.
At this year's event, Cavco was proud to provide one of these homes, built at its Fleetwood Homes manufacturing facility in Rocky Mount, Virginia and transported the 260 miles northeast to the Capitol Hill location. The Fleetwood showcase home was the Pegasus, Model 16702H, a two-bedroom, two-bath model featuring 1,035 square feet (see photos below). Additionally, Bill Boor, CEO and President of Cavco Industries, Inc., was on hand to meet with key members of the federal government visiting the Homes on the Hill event to answer questions about the homes and encourage congressional leaders and others to vote to protect this vital source of affordable homes. Check out this video to see this home being constructed and beginning its journey to D.C.
Manufactured housing is the largest form of unsubsidized affordable housing in the U.S. and the only type of housing built to a federal construction and safety standard - the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards, also known as "the HUD Code." The HUD Code's single regulatory framework for home design and construction includes standards for health, safety, energy efficiency, and durability. The affordability of manufactured homes enables individuals to obtain housing that is often much less expensive than renting or financing the purchase of a site-built home. Manufacturers deliver high-quality, HUD-Code homes with designs and features that consumers desire and at attainable prices. Today, 22 million people live in manufactured housing in the U.S., and the industry employs hundreds of thousands of Americans nationwide.
With manufactured housing homebuilding facilities located across the United States employing significant numbers of workers - and manufactured housing communities located in all 50 states, manufactured housing is making the dream of home ownership possible to untold numbers of Americans.
In addition to the showcase on the National Mall, Cavco's contingent of representatives, which also included Brian Cira, Cavco's President of Manufacturing, Eric Coulter, Cavco's Vice President of Sales, and Jim Trepinski, General Manager of the Fleetwood Homes manufacturing facility in Rocky Mount, Virginia, spent Wednesday, June 8, meeting with members of Congress and their staff to discuss industry issues and how Congress and federal agencies can help the industry have a greater impact on the affordability problem. Nothing happens quickly or in a straight line in Washington, and it's true that many of the topics are the same over time; however, the visit confirmed the Cavco team's belief that both sides of the aisle are increasingly focused on housing supply and affordability - these are not partisan issues.
Below is a high-level summary of the main topics discussed in these meetings on the Hill:
Financing - Discussion of the need for the agencies and Government-Sponsored Enterprises involved in manufactured housing lending to homebuyers to update and improve their programs, which have become almost non-existent, particularly as they relate to home-only ("chattel") loans.
Regulation - Discussion of the consequences of the recently published energy requirements proposed for manufactured housing by the Department of Energy (DOE). These new rules would add considerable cost to manufactured homes, negatively impacting affordability and pricing even more families out of home ownership. Cavco's message was clear that the industry has a strong record of improving energy efficiency with the majority of manufactured homes exceeding Energy Star criteria. However, the proposed rules would hold our homes to a higher standard than site-built homes, and DOE would become a second regulator. We are working to have the DOE standards go through the normal process administered by HUD so that the ultimate standards are set with a balanced view of cost and benefit.
Land-Lease Communities - Discussion of the important role played by land-lease community operators in providing affordable rental and ownership models. Approximately 30% of manufactured homes go into land-lease communities where families can either rent a home or own the home they place on land that they lease from the operator. In recent years, high-profile situations in which investors have purchased communities and then significantly raised the land-lease cost have caught the attention of policymakers. The industry's intention has been to put the high-profile situations in context. These situations are clearly isolated and rare. MHI conducted studies showing that the average rent increases have been in the 1-4% range, and the vast majority of those living in manufactured housing communities are very happy with the lifestyle and affordability.
For a more in-depth look at these important issues, click here to download MHI's official position paper.
Again, progress is always slow in Washington, and we don't go into weeks like this expecting to come out with a clear and tangible result. However, Cavco's leadership is very encouraged by the focus our industry is getting as a solution to the serious and increasing lack of affordable housing in our country. Putting homes right on the Mall, where people who likely have never walked into a manufactured house had the opportunity to see the quality homes that we are providing, was very impactful. It was a lot of fun for the Cavco team to see the expressions when these people walked in the door. Friday, Marcia Fudge, HUD Secretary, spoke in front of the staged homes and took a tour. She answered a few interview questions inside the home built by Cavco's team in Rocky Mount and could not have been more complimentary. She finished her comments saying "Get me my suitcase. I'm moving in."
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