Friday, June 28, 2019

HUD Begins Showing Up in R1 Neighborhoods

Middletown, PA, located just East of Pennsylvania’s Capitol of Harrisburg, has never been special in the affordable housing debate but it most certainly is now.

photo from the Press and Journal article

It seems that a building permit was issued for a single wide HUD manufactured on a fully exposed concrete 1st floor and now there’s a new neighbor in this once site built R1 area of town.

Commonwealth Codes, a Manheim, PA-based company that handles the issuing of building permits on behalf of Middletown borough, issued a new permit allowing construction of the manufactured house to proceed.

Commonwealth Codes had issued a building permit before. However, the borough issued a stop-work order May 24.

By then, contractors building the house had set a single-wide mobile home on top of an elevated first floor.

Several residents living near the property showed up at the May 28 meeting, demanding answers from councilors and staff as to how the borough had allowed a property so seemingly out of character with their own to be erected in the neighborhood, which is zoned R-1 for low-density single-family residences.Some of the residents also contended that the house, if allowed to stay, will decrease their property values.

Commonwealth Codes then issued its new permit “based on its second analysis with the accurate information that the unit is a manufactured home and not an industrialized home, eliminating the legal basis for the stop work order.”

Middletown Borough Manager Ken Klinepeter said a manufactured home is the term the housing industry now uses to refer to a “mobile home.” He added in the email that “manufactured homes which are secured to a permanent foundation are considered ‘single-family detached dwellings.’”

He said the term “industrialized home” is “interchangeable with the term modular home.”

The term modular home applies to homes built elsewhere in sections, or modules, and then transported to the construction site. There, the modular homes sections are put together and installed on a permanent foundation.


This blog has been writing about HUD Secretary’s statements that he and the President will begin rolling back those “Not in My Neighborhood” restrictions to allow more HUD manufactured housing into R1 neighborhoods to help ease the affordable housing crisis facing our nation.


And let’s not forget that President Trump signed an executive order last week to form a committee to begin looking at eliminating regulations and zoning rules that make it tough for affordable housing’s acceptance in neighborhoods and towns across the US.

Here’s some food for thought: HUD, with its Federal building code can be placed in R1 neighborhoods with very limited local code inspection.

Site builders can fast track their new homes through the local code office but IRC modular homes must not only meet or exceed local code, they must also have their plans submitted to a third party inspection service, a PE, then sent to the state housing code office for another review which always finds something wrong with it, ships it back to the factory where the plan is “corrected”, sent back to the state and maybe if the person that actually stamps the plans ‘approved’ isn’t having a bad day or on vacation, the home can actually be put on the production schedule.

We’ve all heard the comparison of having your car built better in a factory rather than assembled in your yard and modular housing vs site built housing. But can you imagine the outcry from every automobile factory if every single car had to go through the same plan reviews a new modular home does.

CLICK HERE to read the original Press and Journal article

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