Before adjourning for the summer recess last week, the U.S. Senate passed H.R. 3700, the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act (HOTMA), which includes language allowing Section 8 vouchers to be used for the purchase of manufactured homes. MHI was a part of a coalition of more than 40 housing and advocacy groups supporting Senate passage of the legislation, which was already passed unanimously by the House of Representatives in February. Congress sent the bill to the President for his signature on Tuesday, and he is expected to sign it into law.
The provision increasing the flexibility for low income families to use a Section 8 voucher to purchase a manufactured home was added on the House floor in February by an amendment offered by Representative Peter Welch (D-VT). Passed by a voice vote, the amendment allows Section 8 vouchers to be used not just for the cost of leasing the land (which is currently permitted) but also for other monthly costs of purchasing a manufactured home, including mortgage payments, property tax, and insurance. This change would allow families that receive a tenant-based Section 8 voucher to help pay for an alternative to renting an apartment - allowing them to actually purchase a home. The language does not provide any direct funds or require anyone to use a voucher to live in a manufactured home. However, with this change, the approximately 2.1 million Section 8 voucher holders in America will now have the option to use their Section 8 voucher to buy a manufactured home.
The amendment was supported by Financial Services Committee Chairman Hensarling (R-TX) and Ranking Member Waters (D-CA).
Overall, H.R. 3700 reforms federal housing programs to improve families' access to high-opportunity areas, improve public housing residents' quality of life, cut program costs, encourage work, expand homeownership opportunities, and reduce homelessness. The MHC industry worked as a part of a coalition of housing and advocacy groups urging passage of these reforms. MHC advocates played a major role in first getting an identical manufactured housing provision passed in the 2007 Section 8 reform bill (H.R. 1851) and in Section 8 reform bills in subsequent Congresses. While Congress has vetted most of the bill's provisions over the years as part of previous proposals that have had broad support in Congress and from stakeholders, the reforms never became law.
Section 8 Housing will be a major topic at this year's MHCO Conference - October 24-25th in Eugene. We are receiving an increasing number of phone calls on Section 8 vochures. Make sure you know your rights and responsibilities as managers and landlords when it comes to this important affordable housing program!