MHI Housing Alert
April 1, 2021
President Biden’s $2 Trillion Infrastructure Plan Includes Funding for Affordable Housing and the Elimination of Exclusionary Zoning
President Biden has unveiled the “American Jobs Plan,” a $2 trillion spending package intended to rebuild the country’s transportation and infrastructure. The proposal is a broader view of infrastructure than in prior packages, with funding included for water, a renewed electric energy grid, high-speed broadband, and housing. According to the President, in each of these areas, the focus is on addressing racial injustices, climate impacts, and clean energy and infrastructure with a strong emphasis on opportunities to help underserved communities nationwide. To pay for the package, the Administration proposes to increase a variety of business taxes, including an increase in the corporate income tax rate to 28 percent (from 21 percent) and a doubling of the minimum tax rate paid by U.S. multinational corporations.
Click here for the White House fact sheet about the “American Jobs Plan.”
MHI is currently reviewing the provisions of the proposal to identify opportunities for manufactured housing and areas of concern for our members.
Below is a high-level summary of some of the major funding areas in the plan that are potentially relevant to the manufactured housing industry:
· Produce, preserve, and retrofit more than one million rental homes through a combination of tax credits, formula funding, grants, and project-based rental assistance.
· Build and rehabilitate more than 500,000 homes for low- and middle-income home buyers, including through the passage of the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act.
· Eliminate exclusionary zoning and harmful land use policies by establishing a new competitive grant program to award funding to jurisdictions that “take concrete steps to eliminate such needless barriers to producing affordable housing.”
· Extend and expand commercial efficiency tax credits for weatherization and establish a $27 billion Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator focused on mobilizing private investment for distributed energy resources; retrofits of residential, commercial, and municipal buildings; and clean transportation.
· Prioritize building “future proof” broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas so that the nation reaches 100 percent high-speed broadband coverage.
· Prioritize support for broadband networks owned, operated by, or affiliated with local governments, non-profits, and co-operatives.
· Promote transparency and competition among internet providers, including lifting barriers that prevent municipally-owned or affiliated providers and rural electric co-ops from competing on an even playing field with private providers, and requiring internet providers to clearly disclose the prices they charge.
· Reduce the cost of broadband internet service and promote more widespread adoption by working with Congress to find a solution to reduce internet prices for all Americans, increase adoption in both rural and urban areas, hold providers accountable, and save taxpayer money.
Water Infrastructure Components
· Replace 100 percent of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines by calling on Congress to invest $45 billion in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and in Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN) grants.
Upgrade and modernize America’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems, tackle new contaminants, and support clean water infrastructure across rural America.
Pennsylvania Accelerating Vaccine Strategy
The Department of Health (DOH) in conjunction with the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force today announced the start of the special initiative to vaccinate targeted industry workers and to accelerate the vaccination timetable for those in Phases 1B, 1C and 2. All Pennsylvanians will be eligible to schedule vaccination appointments beginning April 19.
“The vaccine landscape continues to evolve as the federal government is increasing allocations to more retail pharmacy chains across the country,” Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said. “To ensure that vaccine continues to get to people efficiently and equitably, Pennsylvania is adapting its plan to allow workers in targeted industries to access any of the three vaccines available at providers throughout the state, and to accelerate our eligibility for remaining phases of the state’s vaccination plan.
“Pennsylvania’s vaccine providers have dramatically stepped up the pace of vaccinations to an average of 83,000 per day, moving the keystone state higher and higher in the rankings with other states. As we complete Phase 1A vaccinations, it’s time to open eligibility to more Pennsylvanians so providers can continue to fill appointments and efficiently, effectively and equitably vaccinate more people every day.”
Pennsylvania will begin the following accelerated phased rollout:
- March 31 workers in the four targeted industries that Gov. Wolf and the Task Force announced on March 12:
- Law enforcement, which includes police, sheriffs and deputies, constables, corrections officers and staff, as well as probation and parole staff.
- Firefighters, including career and volunteer firefighters.
- Grocery Store workers, including all workers in supermarkets and grocery stores.
- Food and Agriculture workers, including all food processing company employees, including meat, poultry, and dairy processing, fresh fruit and vegetable packing operations, food manufacturing, all farmworkers, farm operators, and farm managers, including at urban agriculture operations.
- April 5 all residents in Phase 1B will be eligible to start scheduling vaccination appointments.
- April 12 all residents in Phase 1C will be eligible to start scheduling vaccination appointments.
- April 19, all residents will be eligible to start scheduling vaccination appointments.
“It is important to remember that eligibility does not guarantee an immediate vaccination appointment,” Beam said. “Vaccine providers are ready and eager to get a shot in the arm of every person who wants one while we continue to aggressively advocate for more vaccine.”
COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force members discussed the benefits of the accelerated plan.
“President Biden has asked us to make every adult eligible for vaccination with the vaccine he is providing,” said Sen. Art Haywood. “We can do it, we can make the change. We can get more vaccine to Southeast PA and across the commonwealth and target vaccine, so no one is left out.”
“Due to the successful implementation of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force’s revised strategic plan, along with an increasing supply of vaccine doses from the federal government and the tremendous work of our provider network, Pennsylvania is now in a position to pursue an aggressive timeline to ensure any Pennsylvanians who wants to be vaccinated is eligible to do so by April 19,” said Sen. Ryan Aument. “As we expand eligibility, we must not forget about our seniors and our commitment to prioritize them and others in Phase 1A, as well as our frontline workers such as law enforcement and first responders in Phase 1B.”
“We can meet President Biden‘s request with the amount of vaccines he is providing,” Rep. Bridget Malloy Kosierowski said. “Pennsylvania has done the work to make this a reality. I have said time and time again that this will get better, and it is. Our dedicated providers, who are on the ground every day, Governor Wolf’s administration, and our task force have collaboratively worked together in prioritizing the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians.”
“Today is a day of hope and optimism,” said Rep. Tim O’Neal. “Earlier this month, we announced plans to prioritize our essential workers and first responders by offering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to them in the coming weeks. We have now done that today. In addition, we have set a timeline so that anyone who wants the vaccine will get able to begin scheduling their appointment at the latest by April 19. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter every day.”
Residents should continue to use the Department of Health’s Vaccine Provider Map to find a vaccine provider nearest them. The department will continue to update the map as the federal government increases the number of pharmacy chains receiving vaccine through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership.
People without internet access can contact the Health Hotline by calling 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258).
You can find the recording of today’s press conference at https://pacast.com/.
PennDOT Customer Reminded to Use Caution When Renewing License and/or Registration Online
PennDOT will never ask for any identity documents over internet or text messages
Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) today reminds its customers to exercise caution while renewing their driver’s license or vehicle registration online, and to make sure that they’re on PennDOT’s official Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov, for making these transactions.
For the safety of our customers’ identities, PennDOT will never ask for, nor accept, any identity documents over the internet or over text messages for any reason. Any website or text message claiming to provide this service is not affiliated with PennDOT. As such, customers should not submit any images of personal documents to such websites or texts as they will not be transmitted to PennDOT and could be used for fraudulent purposes.
“PennDOT is proud to provide our customers with comprehensive online services, like vehicle and driver’s license renewal, address changes, and much more,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “However, it’s important that customers ensure that they are on PennDOT’s official site before completing a transaction.”
Driver and vehicle online services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and include driver’s license, photo ID and vehicle registration renewals; driver-history services; changes of address; driver license and vehicle registration restoration letters; ability to pay driver license or vehicle insurance restoration fee; driver license and photo ID duplicates; and driver exam scheduling. There are no additional fees for using online services.
Additionally, third-party websites can appear “official,” and often pay search engines to appear at the top of search results for common terms, like “renew vehicle registration” or “driver’s license.” Many third-party sites charge additional fees for completing transactions – there are no additional service or convenience fees for completing online transactions on PennDOT’s website.
There are a few simple tips to help customers ensure that they are visiting PennDOT’s official website:
- Rather than using a search engine to reach the PennDOT Driver and Vehicle Services website, enter the web address (www.dmv.pa.gov) directly into your browser’s address bar.
- PennDOT does not charge any additional service or transaction fees for completing online transactions. If you are charged any additional fees, you aren’t on the PennDOT website.
- Look for the words “An Official Pennsylvania Government Website” in the top left corner. Many commonwealth websites display these words as an additional security measure.
If a customer has concerns about a third-party website, they can contact the PA Attorney General Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1-800-441-2555 or visit their website.
Follow PennDOT on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PennDOTNews, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PennsylvaniaDepartmentofTransportation.
CDC Federal Eviction Moratorium Extended through June 30, 2021
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has extended the federal eviction moratorium through June 30, 2021. The order was originally set to expire on March 31, 2021. Click here to read the CDC statement.
Manufactured Housing Retailers and Community Owner’s Websites Under Attack Under the Americans with Disabilities Act
By Steven M. Williams
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits the exclusion, segregation, and unequal treatment of individuals with disabilities. These requirements apply to businesses and nonprofit service providers that are “public accommodations.” Public accommodations are private facilities that are open to the public, such as restaurants, retail stores, hotels, movie theaters, private schools, and landlord’s rental offices. Specifically, this will include manufactured housing retailers and land lease communities.
Over the past several years, many courts have determined that websites are also public accommodations that must be accessible to the disabled. Over 2,200 lawsuits were filed in 2018 against retailers and other companies who do business with the public because their websites were allegedly not accessible by persons with disabilities. Now, manufactured housing retailers and community owners are also being targeted.
This month, the law firm, Weisberg Law, from Eastern Pennsylvania, has sent letters to members of the Association. In the letters, Weisberg states that the members’ websites are not ADA compliant and demand that the members immediately take action to correct this. The letter also demands that the members pay Weisberg’s attorney’s fees as part of a settlement of the claim. If you receive a letter like this, you should immediately forward it to your attorney for assistance and guidance.
In the meantime, manufactured housing retailers and community owners should take action to protect themselves before a demand is made or a lawsuit is filed. Hiring an IT consultant to audit your website is a great first step. The consultant can identify accessibility issues, recommend solutions, and work with you to implement them. Manufactured housing retailers and community owners should also become familiar with the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), available at https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20. In the absence of any federal guidance, WCAG may be the best indicator of what standards of accessibility courts adopt.
Given the lack of certainty in this new area of litigation, the increasingly important role that internet access plays in commerce, and the uptick in litigation involving website accessibility, it is crucial that manufactured housing retailers and community owners take action now to prevent substantial litigation costs and liability later.
About the Author
Steven Williams provides a full range of legal services to landlords to assist them in avoiding and resolving legal problems and positioning themselves to maximize the success of their businesses. He is the Administrative Partner of Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC and is a member of the firm’s Real Estate, Commercial Litigation, Labor & Employment, Energy & Utilities, Financial Services, Government Law & Regulatory Affairs, and Consumer Protection Defense Groups. For more information, please contact Steve at 717.234.5530 or email@example.com.
Department of Health Amends Universal Face Coverings Order to Align with CDC Guidance
Harrisburg, PA – Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam today amended the existing Universal Face Coverings order, issued on November 17, 2020, to align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People. The amended order went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on March 17, 2021 and will remain in effect until further notice.
“The vaccines that are currently available across the state and country are highly effective at protecting vaccinated people against severe and symptomatic COVID-19,” Acting Secretary Beam said. “Research has shown that fully vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection and potentially less likely to spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others. However, there is still more to learn about how long protection lasts and how much vaccines protect against new variants of the virus, so some prevention measures will continue to be in place for all people, regardless of their vaccination status.”
According to the CDC, there are several activities that fully vaccinated people can resume now, as low risk to themselves, while being mindful of the potential risk of transmitting the virus to others. Those activities include:
- Visiting with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing;
- Visiting with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing; and
- Refraining from quarantine and testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic.
However, it is important that fully vaccinated people continue to take precautions in public like wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing; avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings; get tested if they experience COVID-19 symptoms; follow guidance issued by employers; and follow travel requirements and recommendations.
Individuals who are fully vaccinated should also continue to wear a mask, practice physical distancing and follow other prevention measures when visiting unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease and when visiting unvaccinated people from multiple households.
People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 more than two weeks after they have received the second dose in a two-dose series or more than two weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine. It is important to remember that the current mitigation Orders are still in effect and that physical distancing and capacity requirements for gatherings must still be followed.
While vaccine supply from the federal government remains limited, the Department of Health is working to ensure the vaccine is provided in a way that is ethical, equitable, and efficient. To keep Pennsylvanians informed about vaccination efforts:
- The Your Turn tool provides a way to register to be alerted when it’s your turn to be vaccinated.
- A commonwealth COVID-19 vaccination guide explains the current process for getting one. Pennsylvanians with questions about the vaccination process can call the Department of Health hotline at 1-877-724-3258.
- Vaccine provider map to find a COVID-19 vaccine provider near you.
- All of the locations that received vaccine and how much they have received can be found on the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution webpage.
- Vaccine dashboard data can also be found on the website to find more information on the doses administered and showcase demographic information.
- Pennsylvanians can provide feedback on the Pennsylvania COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan by clicking on the Plan Feedback Form square under Popular Vaccine Topics here.
- Frequently asked questions can be found here.
The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
- Clean surfaces frequently.
- Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
- If you must go out, you are required to wear a mask when in a business or where it is difficult to maintain proper social distancing.
- Download the COVID Alert PA app and make your phone part of the fight. The free app can be found in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store by searching for “covid alert pa”.
Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics
- Daily COVID-19 Report
- Press releases regarding coronavirus
- Latest information on the coronavirus
- Photos of the state’s lab in Exton (for download and use)
- Coronavirus and preparedness graphics (located at the bottom of the page)
- Community preparedness and procedures materials
MEDIA CONTACT: Barry Ciccocioppo, firstname.lastname@example.org