15 July 2021
To Whom It May Concern at FHFA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Manufactured Homeowners, Affordable Housing and Manufactured Home Advocates, Lawmakers, Legal, and Other Interested Parties.
PROPOSED 2022–2024 MANUFACTURED HOUSING, RURAL, AND UNDERSERVED MARKETS PLAN
I am not a financial professional, or a lawyer. I am not an employee in any Manufactured Home Sales or Services company. I am a RESIDENT of a 55+ Manufactured Home Community. Hopefully you understand what that means, as it means I AM YOUR CUSTOMER!
I moved into this Manufactured Home Community in December of 2018. Before the first month was out, my wife and I came to the conclusion that we had hit the jackpot when we purchased our 39 year old manufactured home in this beautiful, land-lease establishment, with it’s fantastic community.
Unfortunately, as I reported at the Duty to Serve virtual Listening Session on Wednesday, December 11, 2019, I was soon exposed to the dark side of living in a land-lease community, which led to my becoming the President of the Mobil Country Club’s Home Owner’s Association. My life is now focused on helping our neighbors, who are facing serious financial, health, and welfare issues. I call on you to document the reasons why my friends are suffering and what we, as a community, can do to help them.
I have discovered that those reasons are complex and there are many things that will need to be done to help the residents of this community and others like it.
The biggest issues my people are facing are related to finances. The fact that they are facing the threat of economic eviction from the constant, parasitic rent increases is critical. However, there is also the fact that we get zero support when it comes time to deal with financial organizations.
For example, I needed a $20,000 loan to replace the roof on my home. In spite of my very high credit rating, the only reason I was successful in getting a personal loan was that the manager of my local bank branch fought for me. All the years I lived in my 90 year old site built home, financing was never an issue. This helped open my eyes to one of the major problems people living in Manufactured Homes face. Your organization’s failure to perform.
The Duty to Serve Program
From the FHFA website:
The Duty to Serve (DTS) requires Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (Enterprises) to facilitate a secondary market for mortgages on housing for very low-, low-, and moderate-income families in: Manufactured housing, Affordable housing preservation, and Rural housing. (emphasis mine)
From one of Fannie Mae’s fancy documents5:
In December 2016, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) issued the Duty to Serve Underserved Markets rule, as required by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008, which guides our activities at Fannie Mae every day.
I am sorry, but I don’t see any sign that Fannie Mae has done anything in compliance with those guidelines. I know that large organizations, just like the RMS Titanic, tend to be slow in responding to courses corrections, but it has been over a decade for you to do what the law REQUIRES! As a young man, I spent twelve years in the US Navy, including four tours of Vietnam. We followed the law and served our country honorably. Isn’t it about time for you to do the same?
I am not the only one calling for change. Both the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform and the Manufactured Home Living News sites have multiple articles related to your failure to perform.
Where is the Free Market?
On July 9, 2021, in his remarks at the Signing of An Executive Order Promoting Competition in the American Economy, President Biden said the following:
But let me be very clear: Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism; it’s exploitation. Without healthy competition, big players can change and charge whatever they want and treat you however they want. And for too many Americans, that means accepting a bad deal for things that can’t go — you can’t go without.
Tim Sheahan, when he was president of the National Association of Manufactured Home Owners (NMHOA), noted that when there was plenty of competition and new land-lease manufactured home communities were coming online, the law of supply and demand kept site fees affordable.
As I stated in my previous submission, there have been no new communities in California in the past thirty years and more closures than openings across the US since 2000. The Affordable Housing Crisis demonstrates that there is plenty of demand. The problem is simple, there is no supply. What impact has your failure to meet your Duty to Serve had on the construction of new manufactured home communities? Could it be that you are actually contributing to the affordability crisis, instead of working to abate it?
I want you to work as a community to find ways to remove ALL the financial obstacles to building new Manufactured Home Communities. That specifically includes removing the financial obstacles that could be addressed by fully enforcing the Duty to Serve laws related to “very low-, low-, and moderate-income families in: Manufactured housing”.
Also, tell the GSEs that all HUD Code manufactured homes should be treated equally. There are millions of people living in land-lease communities that need your help. Forget what the representatives of the large corporations are telling you. They have plenty of other ways to get our money. The homeowners, trapped in their homes, have no protections.
If you are looking for new programs;
- How about developing a program that can aid MHC residents against the risk of economic eviction?
- How about developing a program that can aid MHC residents in purchasing their communities?
- How about developing a program that will actually aid MHC residents for once?
It is time for you to ignore the very-rich-, rich-, and moderate-income corporations and instead follow the congressional directive to focus on the very low-, low-, and moderate-income families in: Manufactured housing, Affordable housing preservation, and Rural housing.
The State of Our Community
I will repeat my previous statement on why these things are important.
Here are the results of a 2019 a survey that was taken after a seven percent increase in the monthly site rental, at the senior community where I live. We found that only 11% of the people living in our community fit the HUD definition for Not-Burdened. 38% met the definition of Moderately-Burdened and 41% qualified for the Severely-Burdened category. At that time, we were hit with multiple rent increases, making the score for rent increases 18% in just two years. This year, in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis, when all community facilities were shutdown, we were hit with another 4% increase.
These are people behind the Duty to Serve laws. Can you look into their faces and tell them that you are helping them? I believe it is your Duty, in service to the United States of America, to help those people in anyway that you can.
Robert E. Van Cleef