Dr. Ben Carson
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Remarks to Town Hall at Clayton Manufacturing Plant
Russellville, Alabama, Clayton Manufacturing Plant, January 30, 2020

 

As prepared for delivery. The speaker may add or subtract comments during his presentation.

Thank you all for inviting me to join you this morning. This is my final stop on a two-day bus tour I’ve had the privilege to take across the Great American South. The focus of my travels has been to meet with local public officials, community leaders and industry representatives to see how we can work together to reduce regulatory barriers that drive up the cost of housing,

In that spirit, it has been a joy to spend this morning seeing the incredible development of manufactured housing technology happening at Clayton Manufacturing. As soon as I strapped on my hard hat, I was immediately in awe of the hard work being done there. And all of it is to help make the American Dream a reality for American people and families.

Since the very beginning of my time as Secretary, I have been a believer in the potential of manufactured housing to create communities and change lives. And HUD’s support for this developing field has only grown since then.

Manufactured housing plays an increasingly vital role in meeting the nation’s affordable housing needs. It provides nearly 10 percent of the total single-family housing stock, giving more than 22 million Americans a place to call home. And the manufactured housing industry also plays an important part of the broader economy, providing approximately 40,000 jobs nationwide.

HUD’s regulation of manufactured housing plays a critical role in both protecting consumers and ensuring a fair and efficient market. An essential part of that job entails removing artificial and unnecessary barriers to adoption.

That’s why, this summer, President Trump established the White House Council on Eliminating Barriers to Affordable Housing, which I have the honor to chair. The Council engages with leaders across the country to cut down the enormous price tag of regulations and local codes that limit new home construction and development.

To assist the Council’s work, HUD recently issued a Request for Information for input on perceived barriers that limit development. That comment period ends tomorrow, January 31, so I hope you interested citizens and groups lend your voice and share your experiences if you haven’t done so already.

Policies that exclude manufactured housing development prevent an affordable alternative to traditional site-built housing that doesn’t compromise safety or quality. The failure to substantially update the Construction and Safety Standards on a regular basis, for example, has hindered the manufactured housing industry’s ability to economize and leverage current construction techniques and materials that require special HUD approvals.

To facilitate these changes, last Fall, HUD submitted our housing finance reform plan to President Trump, which promotes the use of manufactured homes as a key priority for solving the nation’s affordable housing crisis.

Manufactured Housing Announcement

In keeping with our commitments, today, I am pleased to announce that HUD is unveiling a new proposed set of updates to the Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards – adopting many of the recommendations made to HUD by the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee.

When finalized, these proposed changes will be the first major update to the Standards in over a decade. These changes will reduce regulatory burdens for manufacturers while maintaining high levels of quality and safety for consumers.

This new set of proposed recommendations will provide four key improvements to our current regulatory architecture.

First, it eliminates the need for manufactured home manufacturers to obtain so-called “Alternative Construction” approvals directly from HUD when they install certain modern design features that are not addressed in the current federal building code but consumers highly demand. This change accommodates design and construction flexibility, which is necessary for homes that are two-story, townhome-style, or have attached garages or attached carports.

Second, it includes requirements for carbon monoxide detectors that will increase health and safety while eliminating the need for manufacturers to comply with state-based requirements.

Third, it implements standards that allows for more optimal use of manufactured housing in urban areas, including Opportunity Zone areas.

And fourth, it adds or updates several reference standards that increases design flexibility and aligns federal standards with industry practices, thereby mitigating adverse regulatory or economic impact.

We’ve also published a final rule today on formaldehyde emissions. This final rule eliminates overlap in the regulation of wood products that contained formaldehyde – so that manufacturers do not have to comply with multiple regulations that all try to get to the same goal – and preserves safety for manufactured home purchasers. It also eliminates the regulatory burden of manufacturers providing a formaldehyde notice, creating a more level playing field with stick-built housing.

Conclusion

Our work on these vital issues would not be possible without the incredible ingenuity of America’s private enterprise on the front lines of this fight. On behalf of HUD, we are deeply grateful to the leaders and concerned citizens in this room for both your input and your efforts to create a better climate for affordable housing.

The federal government is at its best not when it dictates from above, but rather when it lifts people up from below. HUD does not want to stand in your way; we want to clear the path for you to help your own communities reach their highest potential.

There’s a saying from Harry Truman I often think about: “It’s amazing how much can get done when we don’t worry about who gets the credit.” When we put politics aside and work together to do what’s right, we can deliver truly life-changing results for the American people. That is HUD’s goal every day, and I thank everyone here for joining us on that mission.

Thank You.

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