The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted virtually every reach and sector of the world, including the manufactured home communities, owners, and renters throughout the U.S. Here is what you need to know about the next steps.

As the world continues to battle the ups and downs of the COVID-19 outbreak, the U.S. economy – on all fronts and in all sectors – has suffered major disruptions. Businesses across the U.S. have faced closures, reduced operations and the demand for remote work. Individuals have dealt with quarantines and shelter-in-place orders, layoffs, furloughs, decreased incomes and are struggling with the supply for key consumer resources. Students have seen schools and campuses closed and have transitioned their class schedules to online learning. Medical personnel and health care systems have and continue to battle critically low inventories.

 In various analyses of COVID-19’s effects on the housing market, as noted by the Urban Institute, manufactured housing is a largely overlooked – yet extremely viable – option in the wake of suffering incomes and bank accounts for the American people.

 Nearly 22 million people throughout the U.S. live in manufactured housing, according to ManufacturedHomes. com. These 22 million renters and owners tend to work in industries that have been immensely impacted by the pandemic (35 percent of manufactured homeowners work in industries that have been most impacted by the coronavirus crisis), yet mostly fall outside the protections offered by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act since a majority of new manufactured homes fall under the category of “personal property” as opposed to “real estate”. As policymakers negotiate the next round of coronavirus relief, will they support the communities, owners and renters of manufactured homes?

 Without proper financial assistance from the government – whether at the federal, state or local level – the homelessness rate for those currently occupying manufactured homes could skyrocket by January 2021.

 Legal Breakdown Of the manufactured homes titled as personal property, only Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Title 1 loans qualify for CARES Act forbearance. In most states, this requires the borrower to own both the structure and the land it is sitting on, meaning renters would not be covered. 

Even more, most chattel lenders – loans where the homeowner already owns the land and only has a loan for the home itself – are offering forbearance, but some are requiring quicker payback periods than the standard terms afforded to FHA and government-sponsored enterprise borrowers. 

The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, if passed, would extend the benefits of federal forbearance programs to households without federally backed mortgages and applies similar forbearance and repayment programs which would include chattel loans on manufactured homes.

The HEROES Act Explained| The HEROES Act contains a large number of provisions, among them $175 billion in housing support: nearly $1 trillion for state, local and tribal governments; up to $6,000 per family direct payment; $200 billion for hazard pay for essential workers; $75 billion for coronavirus testing and tracing; increased spending on food stamps; student loan forgiveness; and a new employee retention tax credit and extension of unemployment benefits. 

The proposed Act includes a $100 billion emergency rental assistance proposal known as the “Emergency Rental Assistance Act and Rental Market Stabilization Act” under which an emergency rental assistance would be distributed. This funding could be used for short- and medium-term rental assistance and rent-related costs, including utility payments, rent and utility arrears, arrear fees, and security and utility deposits. 

At least 40 percent of the appropriated funding would have to be used to assist individuals or families experiencing, or at�risk of, homelessness with incomes less than 30 percent of area median income. At least 70 percent of the funding would have to be used to serve individuals or families experiencing or at�risk of homelessness earning less than 50 percent of AMI. 

What’s to Come for Manufactured Home Communities and Renters 

Our hope at AMHA is for either an extension of unemployment benefits or the passage of the HEROES Act. Our preference would be that the money goes directly to landlords and/or property management companies for the ease of funding management; but we would, of course, also support manufactured home renters being able to apply for the financial support individually during this time. We understand that manufactured home renters will still owe back rent with this option, but without any financial assistance, many of them could end up owing several months’ rent by the time the holiday season approaches, plus late fees. 

The latter option – going directly to the manufactured home community owners/landlords – includes eviction protections and rental assistance programs for those who cannot make their rental payments, regardless of whether the landlord has a federally backed loan, would be beneficial for all in the manufactured home realm, which is why we favor said option.

Hope for All

 In developing policies to keep people safely housed during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to identify the most vulnerable groups and the sources of their vulnerability. The 22 million renters and owners living in manufactured homes are particularly vulnerable during the pandemic because of their service-industry-focused jobs and many occupants dealing with low income. Manufactured homes and communities need support during this next round of funding. AMHA is here to advocate for our manufactured homeowners, renters, retailers and communities and we will do all that we can to ensure justice and fair funding for all.

 For the latest news, updates and support, please access our laws and regulations resources, news updates and/or contact us or your local, state and federal government outlets for more information.

 

Alabama Manufactured Housing Association 7245 Halcyon Summit Drive, Suite B, Montgomery, AL 36117

Post Office Box 241607 (36124-1607

Phone: (334) 244-7828