Market Opportunity: Vol. 7, Issue 1

Letter from the Director

Dear Friend of I'M HOME,

Since 2005, Prosperity Now has worked closely with individuals like you to develop and refine strategies that leverage manufactured housing to preserve and create affordable homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income families. Historically, we have referred to this group of stakeholders as the I'M HOME Network: a group of advocates, practitioners, policymakers and others nationwide working to expand the reach and deepen the impact of manufactured housing strategies. The purpose of this Network is to serve as a learning and advocacy community that enhances members' capacity to leverage manufactured housing as affordable housing in their work and to build on the successes of their fellow Network members.

Since we began this work nearly a decade ago, the field of stakeholders has grown and become more diverse. In an effort to formalize and clarify our relationships with existing partners and to facilitate continued expansion of this network to new audiences, we are pleased to introduce a new I'M HOME Network structure over the next few weeks.

The new structure will not disrupt the existing function or activities of the I'M HOME Network. Rather, we hope to clarify members' commitments to Prosperity Now and their peers, formalize the process for joining and gather information from members that will illuminate the landscape of activity across the field. Going forward, network membership will have two tiers—General Members and Lead Organizations—in partnership with a key group of social ventures, policy advocates and funders. General Membership is open to any individual interested in staying informed or contributing to the national dialogue about manufactured housing as a source of affordable housing. Lead Organizations will include an invitation-only, core team of organizations with a demonstrated commitment to manufactured housing solutions that build financial security for homeowners. Lead Organizations invitations will be sent privately later this week. For more detail about the structure of the network, visit our website.

To continue receiving I'M HOME communications, we invite you to join the Network as a General Member. All General Members receive:

  • Priority access to share and receive resources, network activity, events and opportunities through mailings and the newsletter.
  • Access to national conversations, webinars and events.
  • Discounted registration fees at the I'M HOME Conference.

In the coming months, we plan to engage new and newly reaffirmed Network members as we plan for the 2014 Conference, shape the Network and refine the long-term vision for I'M HOME. We look forward to strengthening and growing the field together!

Please contact me (dryan@prosperitynow.org) or Lauren Williams (lwilliams@prosperitynow.org) with any questions.

Sincerely,

Doug Ryan
Director of Affordable Housing Initiatives

When Policy Moves Markets: Purchase Opportunity Law Passes in Oregon

By Jane Capron, Songbrook Resident and MH/OSTA Board Secretary

Homeowners in Oregon's manufactured housing communities secured a big win this legislative session when they celebrated passage of HB 4038 – allowing them an opportunity to compete to purchase their community as a resident-owned cooperative. The legislation also extends the opportunity to purchase to nonprofit organizations and local housing authorities.

Codified as Oregon Revised Statutes 90.800 to 90.840 and scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2015, they require community owners to notify homeowners when they intend to list their park for sale. The statutes provide a short window of opportunity for the homeowners to notify the landlord of their interest in acquiring the property, and then require both parties to negotiate in good faith.

According to Ishbel Dickens, Executive Director of the National Manufactured Home Owners Association (NMHOA), "The successful passage of this bill provides Oregon homeowners with a real opportunity to protect the long-term investment in their homes, while also giving them the long-term security of tenure that comes with resident ownership of the land under their homes."

Ms. Dickens looks forward to a time when more states enact such statutes. She points out, "Everyone benefits when legislators vote to adopt opportunity-to-purchase laws. The community owner is paid fair market value for the land, the homeowners are secure in this unique ownership model, and the wider community benefits, too, as the manufactured housing community remains as a viable source of housing and the home owners and their families continue to work, shop, attend school and remain active members in the places they sought to live."

Oregon currently has a number of statutes that facilitate resident or nonprofit purchases of manufactured housing communities. In 2007, the Oregon Legislature passed the Manufactured Dwelling Park Nonprofit Cooperative Corporation Act (HB 2096), which amends ORS Chapter 62 to allow preservation of parks by cooperatives in which the residents comprise the members of the cooperative, own limited equity memberships and hold long-term leases for individual spaces. In the same year, additional legislation was enacted in response to a high rate of manufactured housing park closures and displacement of residents. HB 2735 requires a minimum of 365 days' notice in case of park closure, as well as payments to displaced residents to help defer the costs of moving. More recently, in 2013, the Oregon Legislature extended the sunset on a state capital gains tax exemption to 2020 for owners who sell to resident cooperatives, local housing authorities or nonprofits.

"This new legislation paves the way for residents interested in purchasing and preserving their manufactured housing and allows them an opportunity to compete with other investors", says Rita Loberger, a Board Member with the Manufactured Housing Oregon State Tenants Association (MH/OSTA). Ms. Loberger, who is also a Member-at-Large on NMHOA's Board, echoes Ms. Dickens' sentiments: "It's really a win-win for everyone. Sellers have a greater pool of buyers to choose from and homeowners in manufactured housing parks have the opportunity to determine the future of their community."

Oregon homeowners who wish to learn more about the process can contact MH/OSTA at 800.423.9371 or visit www.mh-osta.org or www.nmhoa.us.

Introducing I'M HOME's Newest Team Member!

Prosperity Now would like to welcome our newest team member, Lissette Flores, who joins the I'M HOME Team as a Senior Program Associate starting this week! Lissette brings a combination of policy and field experience from her time on the Hill, at HUD and, before that, with social service and housing agencies serving the Chicago area. She comes to Prosperity Now after completing a year-long Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Graduate Housing Fellowship and, before that, obtaining her Master of Urban Planning and Policy in Community Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

We are excited to welcome Lissette to our team and look forward to introducing her to the entire I'M HOME Network!

Save the Date: 2014 Innovations in Manufactured Homes Conference

November 12 - 13, 2014 in Seattle, WA, at the Hyatt Olive 8

Each year since 2005, I'M HOME has convened a range of audiences interested in applying manufactured housing solutions to affordable housing challenges to network, learn and share best practices with one another. This event brings together affordable housing developers, lenders, government agency staff, policymakers, industry experts, homeowners, community organizers, funders and more each year. In the past, this event has remained relatively small, focusing on a key, invite-only group of partners committed to this work and steeped in these issues.

In 2014, we look forward to accommodating the growing audience of stakeholders seeking to connect with others on these issues by making registration open to the public and offering a wider range of content through concurrent sessions. The conference will include ample networking opportunities and a series of concurrent sessions, workshops, interactive conversations and plenary sessions with energizing speakers and content from across the I'M HOME Network. Content may cover issues such as:

  • Innovations in single-family financing products, policies and systems for manufactured homes.
  • Ways to leverage manufactured housing for infill in communities and in urban areas.
  • Opportunities for using factory-built housing in new, replacement, infill and long-term disaster recovery efforts.
  • Promising practices in network development and operations.
  • Strategies and examples for integrating manufactured housing into mainstream affordable housing strategies, policies and systems.

Mark your calendars and join the I'M HOME Network as a General Member to stay in the loop and receive discounted registration! Registration will open this summer.

Manufactured Homes Help both Save the Planet and Save Money for Low-Income Owners

In its March issue of the Community Development Investment Review, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco featured articles that highlighted a number of the connections between "communities, people, and the natural and built environments in which they live." Manufactured housing was featured in an article authored by Next Step's CEO, Stacey Epperson, and Prosperity Now's Director of Affordable Homeownership, Doug Ryan: "Manufactured Homes Help both Save the Planet and Save Money for Low-Income Owners." For a quick synopsis, read below:

Addressing affordable housing while simultaneously reducing pollution seems like an impossible task. Yet manufactured housing can do just that. The American housing market has long benefited from design and finance innovations to meet the changing demands of home buyers. It is also a sector of the economy that has been greatly affected by government interventions in the market. From local zoning and planning decisions to preferential treatment in the federal tax code, housing's progression is a many-chaptered story.

Prosperity Now's Andrea Levere also authored a piece on "Mixing Asset Building with Energy Efficiency: A Recipe for Financial and Environmental Sustainability":

This issue of Community Development Investment Review speaks directly to a new partnership between energy efficiency and asset-building that is producing concrete opportunities to increase our stock of affordable housing, build the financial resilience of low-income families, and promote environmental sustainability. It is particularly promising because unlike many other new approaches, we have the technical tools and programmatic knowledge to execute this approach successfully, a policy environment that is becoming friendlier, and growing interest from the private sector to help bring this strategy to scale. At the same time, the promise and potential of these two strategies are undervalued in the marketplace of social change, which makes the opportunities for impact even greater.

You can read the full issue online.

Housing Finance Reform

Prosperity Now and its partners continue to watch Congress and the housing reform package that is under consideration by the Senate Banking Committee. The Committee had announced that today it would mark up—that is, debate and consider amendments to—the bill proposed by Chairman Tim Johnson and Ranking Member Mike Crapo. Recent trade news sources suggest that this date may be pushed back as the bill's sponsors try to get more Democratic support. Some Democratic Senators, along with some nonprofit, civil rights and other advocates, have expressed concern about the elimination of affordable housing goals that formerly required Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lend to underserved communities.

As you know, manufactured home loans are included in the legislation. Both real estate and chattel loans will be eligible for securitization through the new structure, including as part of what gets defines as an underserved market. The new regulator will have significant discretion on how loans access the secondary market.

  • Whenever the bill gets before the Committee, it is sure to attract a host of amendments, which may, for example, aim to bolster affordable housing funding, weaken current consumer protections or change the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It appears that the Committee leaders are unlikely to allow too many amendments, and certainly not ones that would threaten the bill's support, such as bills that would significantly weaken Dodd-Frank.
  • As noted previously, I'M HOME remains concerned about the possibility of a Senator offering the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act (S. 1828) as an amendment. While the bill would be damaging to consumers and owners, the concern is that many legislators are not sufficiently engaged in manufactured housing policy and would defer to industry's supporters, who argue that the recent CFPB rules have constricted manufactured home lending.

One issue that industry has yet to address is the lack of data that offer insight into the loans that are being made and not being made. Collecting and analyzing these data is fundamental to any understanding of the state of the market. As such, Prosperity Now and others have worked to offer alternatives to amending housing finance legislation with S. 1828. We are hopeful this approach gains traction.