Murders. Robbery. Burglary. Arson. These and other crimes – drug related or whatever other illegal activities – occur in all kinds of housing. From public housing projects to the swankiest gated developments with multimillion dollar site-built housing, crimes occur wherever people are.
But for whatever reason, news about crimes, windstorms, or fires involving mobile and manufactured homes often seem to be amplified in media reports. The Daily Business News on MHProNews will provide the details of the headline’s tragic incident, based on mainstream news reports. We’ll then turn to an analysis those mainstream news sources lack of how such episodes could be better handled by the industry’s professionals. Because in the absence of a response to such reports, bad news often makes our industry unjustly look bad, when in fact our industry is more needed than ever before.
What Happened in the Headline Case?
On Friday, March 1, WFLA 8 said “TAMPA, Fla. – A man has been arrested in connection with a November triple homicide in Tampa.”
WTSB said, “After a fire on Nov. 15, three people were found dead in the mobile home on 16th Avenue S. in Tampa. Deputies said the victims — Xavier Greene, 28, Derek Archie, 28, and Haley Stone, 20 — all had upper body trauma.”
“Surveillance video captured three suspects leaving a white Nissan Altima at the home,” said WFLA.
23 year old Ricky Wilkerson Jr., was apprehended and is being held without bond.
Other suspects, Xavier Whitehead, 28, were arrested on Dec. 1 on charges of Armed Burglary of a Dwelling, Arson 1st Degree, and Tampering with Physical Evidence.
Mainstream news reports like this one, combined with others that occur, may give housing shoppers the false impression that every manufactured home community is a haven of crime. Yet, third-party university-level research reveals that is not the case. But to look at this first from the prospective of a home shopper, look at this search result.
Is there More Crime in Mobile and Manufactured Housing than Conventional Housing?
Do you recall the study reported in Manufactured Home Living News by award-winning journalist, Jan Hollingsworth about crime and manufactured housing? The reason it’s there is to provide third party, university-level research that debunks the notion that manufactured homes has more crime than conventional housing.
Pride and Prejudice: The Truth About Manufactured Home Communities and Crime – manufacturedhomelivingnews.com
“Some had lower rates of crime than you would expect, because they had pride of ownership and the shared backgrounds of residents.” – Researcher William P. McCarty Homeowners love them. Affordable housing advocates laud them. Municipal planners approve them.
Professor William P. McCarty did extensive research on this topic, who said that manufactured home communities have “…lower rates of crime than you would expect, because they had pride of ownership…” McCarty, PhD, did the research for the University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Criminology, Law and Justice.
Professor McCarty said, “Obviously those places [older communities that had lax maintenance and management] that have less investment in the asset is where we would see more issues, more transient populations — just like an apartment complex, except the apartment would be the manufactured home.”
Rephrased, some of the ‘hits’ that media may deliver on rules and regulations in a community help make those places more appealing with a better qualify of life. Crime is proven to be lower, said McCarty, in well-run manufactured home communities.
As a matter of professional experience, a client firm we worked with on several land-lease communities had lower crime rates than nearby conventional housing that sold for far more. That was according to the local police data. So, not only does McCarty’s research demonstrate that useful fact, but anectodical experience confirms it.
Method or Madness?
There’s a method to the process that Manufactured Home Living News (MHLivingNews) or MHProNews follows. There’s widespread misinformation and several negative stereotypes about manufactured homes and community living.
There is misinformation on the B2B and the B2C levels alike. Facts matter, and thus fact checks and analysis are useful. Note that mainstream media is doing more fact checks too?
To debunk misinformation, ideally, each issue should be addressed as soon as possible after the subject arises. Otherwise, the dominant narrative becomes the accepted one. We do so periodically, as a demonstration. But ideally, a trade group should be laser focused on such issues, and should address them promptly.
So, it would be great if the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) routinely took on such mainstream reporting issues. That’s part of what their public relations person should be doing, right? Even if a news report is factually accurate, even if the mainstream media’s nomenclature is perfect – when they often are not – each negative news article is an opportunity in disguise, if it’s treated as such.
But on the nettlesome topic of crime and manufactured homes, MHI’s website is silent on Dr. McCarty’s valuable research on manufactured homes and communities. So, by default, the drum-beat of news – that happens in all kinds of housing – makes currently depressed manufactured home living look riskier than it is. Our living is as safe as others, said McCarty. But would you know that from looking at headlines like those that follow, below?
In the Absence of Pushback or Counter-Narratives, Dominant Narratives Often Win
It would be great if MHI did their job of positively representing “all segments of factory-built housing.” But years of evidence reveals what the search below from the MHI website on 3.3.2019 reflected. Silence on their own website on this critical issue for those considering manufactured home living. What are they thinking?
MHI claimed that their advertorials reached an ‘audience’ of some 84 million people. That’s coy phrasing, but take it at face value. If they actually reached 84 million people, then why did less than 97,000 Americans households select a new manufactured homes in 2018?
While MHI’s claim itself sound exaggerated, even if they were true, doesn’t the industry’s low 2018 outcome reflect that negative stories like these about crime are winning the day in the public’s mind?
By contrast, the analysis and engagement by MHProNews – in the case below done in concert with MHARR, which is a producer, not post-production trade group – is an example of how if every negative story was addressed, it could turn lemons into lemonade. In many cases, the facts are on the industry’s side. But if the facts are not reported, then they don’t help the industry, and consumers are cheated of an opportunity too.
MHI’s own prior chairman, Tim Williams of 21st Mortgage Corp, admitted that there’s a good argument for MHI – or another trade group – routinely correcting misinformation. Given the clearly weak results for many years running, why isn’t MHI heading their own chairman’s logic, quoted below?
Pragmatic and Practical Motivation
In sports and business, results are what’s measured. The nicest person in the world – if they always failed in sports or the business world – would get replaced.
One can debate why Omaha and Knoxville are such steady supporters of Arlington, VA based MHI. But when the word “trailer” is used more today than a decade ago, when sales levels are lower today than 10 or 20 years ago, the performance of MHI should be the measuring rod. By 2012, the term trailer was trending up, not down. The term manufactured home was trending down. This is a post-production issue, which means it is MHI’s responsibility as a trade organization.
Advancing Solutions to the Ongoing Mess?
At the Tunica Manufactured Housing Show, an organizational effort to form a new post-production trade group will take place. Stay tuned to learn more. For leadership opportunities, click here or the image below. Put the phrase, New MH Association Inquiry in the subject line.
Murders, fires, windstorms and other woes should not be defining manufactured home living. Stories like the above from the Tampa, FL metro happen in all kinds of neighborhoods, not just manufactured home communities or homes.
Manufactured homes should be selling at ten time or more the sales currently experienced. Would you like to see a 10x increase in honestly earned sales? To learn more click here or above. That’s this morning’s installment of manufactured housing professional focused “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, commentary.)
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