2020 is Behind Us. Here’s What’s Next
The year 2020 will be a year that is never forgotten. However, for the Modular Building Institute and from a Government Affairs perspective, this year has opened unprecedented opportunities for members of MBI and the modular industry. We have had significant opportunities to grow our industry this year and have cemented a solid foundation for continued growth in 2021.
The unexpected pandemic in 2020 actually heightened awareness of the modular industry and our ability to provide rapidly deployable structures. At the onset of the pandemic, MBI and its members connected with over 500 local, state, provincial and federal/national contacts through our partnership with the National Governors Association in the US and the Council of Premiers in Canada. Members have provided, and continue to provide, temporary and long-term solutions for building space to help with the impacts of the coronavirus.
The increased need for housing and affordable housing has grown as a result of the pandemic. Additionally, medical facility space, classroom space will continue to be needs our industry can meet quickly and effectively.
Our Washington, DC-based lobbying firm has worked diligently to help MBI connect with leadership at HUD and FEMA as well as with members of Congress to promote the use of modular construction. We’ve had calls with staffers from Rep. Maloney (NY) who sits on the House Financial Services Committee that oversees HUD. We’ve also had a call with the Deputy Undersecretary for Energy Efficiency to begin working with them on their Advanced Building Construction Coalition. We will continue to work closely with them in 2021 to monitor bills that may impact our industry as well as opening more opportunities for modular with housing and disaster relief.
We have built a strong working relationship with Fannie Mae to remove their restrictive underwriting guidelines on modular financing as well as helped them create and publish their unprecedented Modular Financing Toolkit.
In Canada, we have spent the past two years promoting modular building to the Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC). They responded by agreeing to remove their restrictions on financing modular projections and have just recently announced the Canadian Rapid Housing Initiative with $1 billion to invest in affordable housing throughout the country and specified all new construction will be modular-built only! As of this article, more than 70% of the applications for these projects have been approved by the Rapid Housing Initiative team. We continue to work closely with CMHC leadership to help them on the disbursement of these funds in first quarter of 2021.
Continuing in Canada, we have now retained two representatives to help MBI gain adoption of UL2600 for a standard on relocatable structures. We are currently about halfway through this multi-phase process.
This year we retained a lobbyist in New York. She worked closely with MBI to defeat three bills that would have essentially eliminated the opportunity for modular built structures in New York City. Additionally, she and MBI are working closely with the Mayor de Blasio’s office on his recently announced $1.4 billion affordable housing plan for 2021. We have already completed a call with lead staffers and have another planned in January.
In California, the legislative session began on December 7. Numerous bills regarding housing have already been filed. We’ve hired a lobbying firm in Sacramento who has already been working with MBI to promote opportunities for MBI members. In addition to calls with leadership in the California Department of Housing and Community Development, we have also spoken with city officials in several cities who are interested in utilizing modular construction on a broader scale.
As MBI leads the industry into 2021, we are looking forward to the opportunities our members will have to broaden the scope of the modular footprint in the building industry. Our government affairs team has developed strong relationships and created new partnerships that we believe will have a long lasting positive effect on the modular industry.
Help Us Help You
As members of MBI, you have an opportunity to support our government affairs work by purchasing MBI Seals. These funds are used to develop new industry standards in the U.S. and Canada, create new modular-friendly building code language, and to defeat anti-industry legislation and regulations at numerous state, provincial, and federal levels.
We are asking all MBI member manufacturers to purchase one $20 MBI Seal for each new module constructed and simply pass that cost on to your customers. Funds generated by the seals program will continue to be allocated towards removing these barriers to our growth. The Seals program has played a significant role in our ability to hire a full time Government Affairs Director as well as retain lobbyists. We hope you will be diligent in supporting this invaluable program.