Opinion

HUD's Dana Wade on providing more options for affordable housing

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Consumers have great power in this economy when they are given choices about how to spend their money. This is especially true when buying a home. As Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner, I am working to give potential homeowners as many options as possible, which will also help their dollars go further.

Affordable housing is now more important than ever, regardless of the urban, suburban, or rural ZIP code you live in. Through the innovations of a great American industry, manufactured housing, families now have even more ways to improve their quality of life and choose a home that is right for their price range.

At HUD, we've been knocking down many decades-old barriers to the production of manufactured housing, which are homes built in factories and shipped nationwide. We've taken the input of manufacturers, consumers, and experts to develop a revised set of construction and safety standards that will enable more options for quality, durable, safe and affordable manufactured housing. Moreover, HUD Secretary Ben Carson and I have set in place processes for HUD to update its Construction and Safety Standards to ensure that HUD keeps pace with evolving technologies and best practices.

Unfortunately, manufactured housing has too often been stymied by complex local zoning ordinances, a false stigma regarding quality that is decades out of date, and layer-upon-layer of regulations. Mitigating these issues will expand the supply of manufactured housing and reduce the homeownership affordability gap. Even better is that the public is beginning to see this type of housing as a comparable, and more affordable, option to a site-built home.

As a renowned doctor with a scientific mindset that he applies to housing, Secretary Carson has vigorously supported innovations in manufactured housing. His approach has guided us in updating the decades-old regulations that have governed HUD's oversight of manufactured home construction and safety standards. For example, we successfully implemented changes this year that will decrease consumer exposure to formaldehyde emissions in manufactured housing, while reducing regulatory burdens and costs to manufacturers. We are also close to finalizing much larger changes that will eliminate outdated regulatory burdens and address building code improvements and updates. And we're finalizing our work on the funding HUD provides to many states so that more of the manufactured home process can be administered locally.

The federal regulations that govern manufactured housing should encourage the industry’s technological advancements, improvements in manufacturing materials, economies-of-scale production, and other process efficiencies and cost savings. All of this translates into more housing affordability and a better menu of options for homeownership.

It's through these innovations, and those still yet to come, that we can give consumers the right to choose the best possible place to live for themselves and their families.

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Affordable housing HUD Manufactured homes Ben Carson
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