CHIEF OF STAFF OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
AT THE MANUFACTURED HOUSING INSTITUTE FLY-IN
June 26th, 2017
As prepared for delivery. The speaker may add or subtract comments during her presentation.
Hello, it's a great pleasure to be here.
I'd like to thank all the organizers of this event, and the member companies and state organizations who make up the Manufactured Housing Institute.
I also want to particularly recognize your President and CEO, Dick Jennison, and your Vice President for Government Affairs, Leslie Gooch. It is also nice to see Ted Hosp here today as well.
We had a great conversation at HUD headquarters in May, and I've been looking forward to attending your fly-in and connecting on our common opportunities and challenges in housing today.
The late poet Maya Angelou wrote that the "ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned." To have that place of one's own, a place to raise a family, and leave to your children—be it ever so humble.
That has always been a cornerstone of the American Dream, from the early days when settlers sawed and hewed nature's bounty to build their log cabins, to the families of our grandparents' generation, who scrimped and saved to buy a Sears home from a catalogue. For over a century, their hope for a better future has been fostered by businesses like your own, whose creation of affordable houses has allowed the dreams of millions of Americans become a reality.
Your industry is vital to the health of our economy and our communities: last year, manufactured housing provided safe and affordable homes for more than 22 million Americans.
Just last year, your industry produced over 80,000 homes, 9% of new single family home starts in the country.
And since June is Jobs Month at the White House, I should mention our gratitude to your industry for providing many jobs throughout this nation.
So it is vitally important that the voice of the manufactured housing industry is heard at HUD, given our shared interest in providing affordable housing.
Since 1976, HUD regulated the manufactured housing industry with its statutory mission, "To protect the quality, durability, safety, and availability of affordable manufactured homes and to increase homeownership for all Americans."
Recently the President asked federal agencies to propose ways to reorganize their structure. As part of our response, HUD will consider whether the Office of Manufactured Housing Programs should be elevated or changed in any way to ensure that the needs of consumers and producers of manufactured homes are well represented in the Department.
Your homes provide a path from poverty to home ownership for many people—they represent self-reliance and wealth creation. It is an amazing thing to see the money you make each month go toward a property and a place for your family, instead of disappearing toward rent.
It also keeps families invested in the physical care of their property and the wellbeing of their community. It is much harder for this attitude to flourish if everyone is a temporary resident in a temporary space.
At HUD, we recognize what a revolutionary move this can be; that's why we help those in public housing use their vouchers to transition from rental units into ownership of a manufactured house.
Your industry also provides a vital public service in dark times, especially in seasons of flood or storm, when families lose their homes and need shelter and safe havens. FEMA ensures that the homes you build go to the most vulnerable Americans in the most dire circumstances.
1 in 5 of their homes in rural America is manufactured. And many thousands in the heartland work with you and make these homes for a living.
In his inaugural address, President Trump said that "the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."
This is a message that Secretary Carson carries with him each day at HUD, and it dwells in the hearts and minds of every one of his staff, whether joining this new administration or a veteran of 30 years.
In this spirit, HUD proudly helped kick off the Inter Agency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity on June 15th.
Our mission has always been to ensure that every American has access to safe, fair, affordable housing.
The President has declared June to be National Home Ownership month. At HUD, it has been a time for us to rededicate ourselves to the abiding value of owning a home, and educating our fellow Americans about the programs and options available to them, so that as many as possible achieve this important fiscal and social milestone.
Our efforts are especially needed today.
Home ownership hovers near historic lows, as the ripples of the great recession are still felt in every corner of the nation.
Millennials are especially in danger of becoming what Secretary Carson has called a "lost generation" of home owners, because they face being the first generation in American history with fewer opportunities and less economic mobility than their parents.
That makes it even more important that the government cooperate with private industries to make certain that these young people have access to housing they can afford.
This means removing roadblocks that the government has put in front of businesses and individuals.
Secretary Carson also shares the President's commitment to reviewing the weight and cost of regulatory burden.
As part of that process, HUD would like to ensure that "fly by night" regulation is a thing of the past. We are working to ensure that regulation is created in a more methodical and orderly way, and that the public can play a role in the development of policy.
It has come to my attention that recently a policy was changed that affected your members and the process around that, a letter sent, was atypical. Due to your strong MHI representation, the matter was brought to my attention and we are working at HUD to ensure that when there is a change in policy in the future, it occurs in a more orderly fashion.
But removing roadblocks to prosperity is bigger than housing issues—it means thinking about jobs, education, deregulation, and lower taxes. It means growing the economy so that all may have a bigger portion.
That requires the cooperation of agencies from Energy to Agriculture, and from Commerce to Education. It will take work by Congress to relieve the American taxpayer and entrepreneur, and cooperation with the private sector to make sure every voice is heard. But I am confident that, with the leadership of our new administration, this task can be accomplished.
Over the last two months, Secretary Carson has spoken to groups like the Associated Builders and Contractors… the American Land Title Association… the National Association of Realtors… the Federal Home Loan Banks… and other coalitions of American industry—groups like yours who employ tens of thousands of Americans, and sell to Americans, and work every day to provide this country with affordable housing.
We have found that we all seek the one thing: an economy strong enough to enrich all Americans, and a society generous enough to support those in need. They are not separate goals, but the same.
This mission is more important than political division: here, we all fight on the same side.
I thank you again for the work you do, for providing jobs and houses to thousands of families in our communities.
I hope that in the years ahead, we will come together many times in the same spirit… To satisfy that ache for home in all our countrymen, that each may have their safe place, where they can go as they are. Thank you.