President Trump Signs Executive Order to Stimulate Economic Growth

Today, President Trump signed an Executive Order aimed at revitalizing the American economy by creating a fast track for the rulemaking process for reforming regulation. The Executive Order also establishes a “Regulatory Bill of Rights,” which provides guidance for agencies on using discretion in their enforcement with businesses operating in good faith to follow the law.
 
As the nation tries to navigate the COVID-19 crisis coupled with an affordable housing shortage, MHI strongly urges the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to utilize this Executive Order to update the federal building standards for manufactured housing (i.e. the HUD Code) to support innovative housing solutions for this affordable homeownership option.
 
The Executive Order directs agencies to utilize emergency authorities to identify regulations that create hurdles for job creation and economic growth. The same emergency authorities were used to enable agencies to respond quickly when COVID-19 began to spread. Now, those authorities are being used to help restore the economy by reducing the rulemaking process by years, in some instances.
 
As part of MHI’s ongoing advocacy efforts, comments were submitted to HUD in response to the Department’s proposed changes to the HUD Code – the first proposed changes in nearly a decade. These revisions to the HUD Code represent critical progress in clearing out the backlog of updates that have been approved by the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) but are still pending HUD approval and implementation. When the HUD Code is not regularly updated, it makes it difficult for manufacturers to offer consumers the latest innovations, technologies, and features they demand. 
 
“The Manufactured Housing Institute applauds President Trump and his Administration for recognizing the significant hurdles American people and businesses will face on the road to recovery from COVID-19,” said MHI CEO Lesli Gooch. “Manufactured housing is an industry that has thrived on its ability to innovate and build efficiently. Pursuant to today’s Executive Order, MHI encourages HUD to finalize its proposed updates to the HUD Code with our suggested enhancements and also move forward with finalizing the subsequent sets of updates that have been approved by the MHCC but are still pending HUD action.”
 
If you have any questions, please contact MHI’s Advocacy and Communications Department at MHIgov@mfghome.org or 703-558-0675.

MHI’s Advocacy Efforts Continue as Congress Develops Next COVID-19 Relief Package

MHI is closely monitoring the development of the next round of COVID-19 funding, including the “Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act” (HEROES Act), which was introduced by Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday and expected to be considered by the full House of Representatives on Friday.

Among the various provisions in this 1,815 page bill is $100 billion for emergency rental assistance for the 10 million renter households at risk of eviction or homelessness due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. MHI is monitoring this provision, as well as language that extends and expands the eviction moratorium and foreclosure moratorium in the CARES Act, including funding support for landlords and lenders that are subject to such provisions. Since the first COVID-19 funding bill passed Congress, MHI has been working as a part of a coalition of national housing industry trade groups to advocate for provisions supporting lenders and manufactured home community owners.

The HEROES Act includes a section called “COVID-19 Tax Relief Act” that is intended to support families and small businesses. The bill also includes changes to the Paycheck Protection Program, including making all Section 501(c) organizations with 500 or fewer employees eligible to apply for PPP funds. MHI continues to work with a coalition of 150 business industry groups to advocate for changes to the tax code to provide relief for families and businesses. Recently, the coalition sent a letter to Congress challenging guidance by the Internal Revenue Service on deductible expenses covered by funds from Paycheck Protection Program.

Once this massive legislation passes the House it will be sent to the Senate for consideration, where it is expected to be changed dramatically. Provisions of interest to MHI members in the HEROES Act include:

Assistance to Homeowners – $75 billion to states, territories, and tribes to address the ongoing needs of homeowners struggling to afford their housing due directly or indirectly to the impacts of the pandemic by providing direct assistance with mortgage payments, property taxes, property insurance, utilities, and other housing related costs.

Assisting Small Businesses – $10 billion in grants to small businesses that have suffered financial losses as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Department of Labor – $3.1 billion to support workforce training and worker protection activities related to coronavirus, including:

  • $2 billion to support worker training
  • $100 million for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for workplace protection and enforcement activities in response to coronavirus

Administration for Children and Families – $10.1 billion to provide supportive and social services for families and children through programs including:

  • $1.5 billion for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP);
  • $1.5 billion to support paying water bills for low income families

Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (Section 8) – $4 billion to allow public housing agencies (PHAs) to respond to coronavirus and the ability to keep over 2.2 million families stably housed even when facing a loss of income, including $1 billion for new, temporary, vouchers for individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, or fleeing domestic violence.

Community Development Block Grant funds for localities – $5 billion for coronavirus response and to mitigate the impacts in our communities to be distributed by formula to current grantees.

Emergency Rental Assistance – $100 billion to provide emergency assistance to help low-income renters at risk of homelessness avoid eviction due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Extension of Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) – Extension of the $600 per week FPUC supplement to state and federal unemployment benefits through January 31, 2021.

Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures – Extends and expands the eviction moratorium and foreclosure moratorium in the CARES Act to include all renters and homeowners, changes the forbearance provided under the CARES Act, and specifies the loan modifications and loss mitigation that should be available to homeowners following a moratorium to prevent any homeowner from facing a lump sum payment that they cannot afford.

Liquidity for Mortgage Servicers and Residential Rental Property Owners – Requires the Federal Reserve facility established by the CARES Act to be implemented for the benefit of mortgage servicers and residential rental property owners, contingent on compliance with certain reporting requirements and protections for borrowers and renters.

Restrictions on Collections of Debt During a National Disaster or Emergency – Temporary moratorium on consumer debt collection during this COVID-19 crisis, and for 120 days thereafter.

Repayment Period and Forbearance for Consumers – The bill sets out forbearance and repayment options for consumers when payments resume following the foreclosure moratorium, including maintaining the same payment schedule by extending the maturity by the same period of time payments were suspended.

Bankruptcy Protections – Prohibits federal relief payments from being taken in bankruptcy proceedings; specifies that homeowners in bankruptcy proceedings can participate in the mortgage forbearance program created by the CARES Act and other COVID-19 mortgage assistance; increases the amount of home equity protected in the bankruptcy process to $100,000; and opens Chapter 13 to more homeowners and small business by raising the limits for debt to qualify for a bankruptcy through Chapter 13. Specifies that families who file for bankruptcy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic can keep their homes.

Click to view bill summary | Click to view full text of the bill

If you have any questions, please contact MHI’s Advocacy and Communications Department at MHIgov@mfghome.org or 703-558-0675.

Trump Signs Bill Granting Additional Stimulus Funds for Paycheck Protection Program, Other Priorities

On Monday, the federal government replenished funds for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to help small businesses struggling through the economic impact of COVID-19. The SBA limited lenders to submitting 350 applications per hour through the E-Tran system as the volume of requests doubled compared to the initial distribution of PPP funds earlier this month.

On Friday, President Trump signed a $480 billion interim COVID-19 stimulus package, which includes more than $320 billion in additional funding for the PPP. MHI has been working with a coalition of housing leaders to urge the passage of additional funding for the PPP to ensure our industry receives federal financial support to help weather the impact of COVID-19. The bill also allocates $60 billion for the SBA’s disaster relief fund, $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for COVID-19 testing.

The PPP, which was set up to distribute $349 billion in stimulus funds on a first-come, first-served basis, provides much-needed relief for many families and businesses. However, the program quickly depleted its initial funding after it launched April 3rd. With the additional funding allocated by Congress, the SBA will resume accepting PPP loan applications today, April 27th from approved lenders on behalf of any eligible borrower.

When the PPP was established through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, MHI submitted a comment letter to the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Small Business Administration (SBA) to ensure manufactured housing community owners and operators have access to federal aid. SBA issued regulations and guidance that had been interpreted by some lenders as excluding manufactured housing communities from the PPP. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, MHI has continued its fight to ensure the needs of manufactured housing communities are prioritized in federal regulatory and legislative actions created to help American businesses. MHI is emphasizing before the Administration and Congress that manufactured housing community owners and operators are on the front lines of this pandemic, providing needed services for residents during months-long stay-at-home orders, and they must be supported.

THE HILL: Trump signs $484 billion coronavirus relief package

President Trump on Friday signed legislation providing $484 billion to replenish a popular small business lending program and support hospitals and COVID-19 testing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The measure includes an additional $310 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), $60 billion of which is reserved for community banks and small lenders; $75 billion for hospitals; $25 billion to support testing efforts; and $60 billion for emergency disaster loans and grants.

Trump signed the legislative package during an Oval Office ceremony.

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MHI Ensures Housing Operations are Considered Essential by the Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has updated its guidance to states and localities about the essential workforce that can remain in operation during the COVID-19 outbreak. The updated guidance clarifies that housing construction operations and property management are considered “essential,” which means they are critical to public health, public safety, economic security, or national security. This clarification encompasses manufactured housing operations, including leasing, property management, housing construction related activities (which we currently interpret to include sales) and suppliers and contractors. While it is not mandatory for state and local governments to follow this federal guidance, the list has been utilized across the country as governors respond to COVID-19.

MHI worked with the White House, DHS, Congress, and a coalition of real estate and construction associations to secure this important clarification that clears another hurdle to ensuring the manufactured housing industry can remain operational during the COVID-19 emergency. 

As a reminder, while very helpful, this federal list is advisory in nature and does not purport to be a federal directive or standard. As such, it is important to carefully review the stay-at-home orders issued in your states or localities, to determine how they have applied the federal list to their particular restriction (either providing more clarity or additional limitations).

MHI has created a chart indicating the states that have designated residential home construction as “essential.” We will continue to update this information as more states issue stay-at-home orders.  MHI has been assisting our partner state associations to advocate for residential construction to be included in any directives or orders that are forthcoming that could impact business operations. MHI congratulates those State Executives who have already secured the essential workforce status for our industry within their states. 

To keep our industry updated, MHI has created a website of COVID-19 developments that impact manufactured housing. The website provides helpful links, breaking news, resources to provide our members with an up-to-date look at what MHI is working on to support the industry. Visit our COVID-19 News and Updates page.

If you have any questions, please contact MHI’s Advocacy and Communications Department at MHIgov@mfghome.org or 703-558-0675.

OMHP Issues Industry-Wide AC Letter for Windows

Through discussions with members, MHI was made aware of some supply chain challenges as a result of the COVID-19 emergency, such as a lack of window availability, which had the potential to impact manufactured housing production. Due to MHI’s strong relationship and advocacy with the Office of Manufactured Housing Programs (OMHP), OMHP issued an industry-wide AC letter for windows (20-IW1-AC). This industry-wide AC letter, the first ever issued by HUD, allows manufacturers that need the flexibility, to continue production of affordable housing and install windows that meet or exceed the Federal Standards.  This letter does not require individual manufacturers to request approval, saving time, burdens, and costs that would otherwise be incurred with a typical AC letter.