Efforts Needed to Enhance Program Effectiveness and Ensure Funding Stability
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What GAO Found
HUD has established a process for updating the preemptive building standardsfor manufactured homes known as the HUD Code but has not fully met key purposes of the 2000 Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (2000 Act). Key purposes of the Act include:
* Establish a balanced, consensus-based process to update manufactured housing construction and safety standards. HUD has not accepted, rejected, or modified any of the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee's recommendations for updating the HUD Code within 1 year of their submission. The 2000 Act requires HUD to act on the committee's recommended standards within 1 year if they were submitted in the form of a proposed rule with an economic analysis. According to HUD, because the committee did not include economic analyses in the proposals, HUD staff performed this task. They also stated because the proposals lacked the analyses, the Act's 1-year timeline was not triggered. In some cases, HUD has not decided on recommendations made more than a decade ago and lacks a plan to address the backlog. Meanwhile, some states' and localities' residential building codes require standards not in the HUD Code, resulting in post-production upgrades that may increase costs to homeowners. Not updating the HUD Code delays its intended benefit--to improve the quality, durability, safety, and affordability of manufactured homes.
* Facilitate the availability of affordable manufactured homes. Owners of manufactured homes have lower monthly housing costs than site-built owners and apartment renters, but high financing costs often keep these homes from being even more affordable.
The 2000 Act establishes HUD's authority to collect fees for certification labels on manufactured homes built to the HUD Code. The fees are placed in the
Manufactured housing traditionally has been a low-cost option in the U.S. housing market. For nearly 40 years, HUD has provided standards for the manufactured housing industry by developing and updating the HUD Code. The 2000 Act was intended, among other things, to establish a balanced consensus process for updating the standards and regulations for enforcing them and to encourage manufactured housing as an affordable option. GAO was asked to study HUD's implementation of the 2000 Act. This report addresses, among other things, the extent to which HUD has met key purposes of the 2000 Act and assesses whether user fees cover program costs. GAO interviewed and collected data for 2000-2013 from HUD, other agencies, and industry groups. GAO also visited large and small plants that built manufactured housing to solicit industry perspectives. What GAO Recommends
GAO makes several recommendations, including that HUD develop and implement a plan for updating construction and safety standards in a timely fashion; develop a plan to assess how FHA financing might further manufactured home affordability; complete label fee rule-making; and assess the need for other user fees. Of these, HUD agreed with the first recommendation and partially agreed with the next two because it believes it has already taken actions. HUD stated it would consider the last recommendation. GAO continues to believe these recommendations remain valid as discussed in the report.
For more information, contact Mathew J.Scirc at (202) 512-8678 or [email protected].
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