It’s the top mainstream news story involving the industry that too few manufactured housing (MH) profession leaders seem to grasp – or are willing to tackle.
Nevertheless, it’s perhaps the biggest one in years to impact our flailing segment of the affordable housing industry.
Once the ubiquitous Drudge Report linked up the account of Millie Francis and her public display of Our Lady of Guadalupe, numerous other mainstream media outlets picked up the subject.
Scores of news sources have run variations of her tale. It includes Francis’ battle with her resident owned community’s (ROC) management company and on-site manager Janet Nowakowski, whom Francis claims is in violation of community rules, while selectively enforcing others.
Legal opinions and other manufactured home industry professional have weighed in with their views.
What mainstream media stresses Francis’ determined “They’ll have to kill me first” statement, standing before her now iconic painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the street facing of her pre-HUD Code mobile home comes down.
The Bradenton Tropical Palms resident owned community’s management hired the law firm, Knox and Levine, to pressure Francis into removing the painted image of the Madonna, the mother of Jesus under her venerated image as Our Lady of Guadalupe (OLG).
Devout Catholics see OLG as the patroness of the Americas, and of the unborn.
A Bradenton city official has told MHProNews that they are aware of the drama, and recommend that Francis contact a Fair Housing organization in the area. That mirrors other legal commentary shared on-and-off the record to MHProNews, previously reported at the link here. One example is shown below.
The Millie Francis, Our Lady of Guadalupe Drama Synopsis
Millie Francis found herself in a firestorm over a painting she was “inspired” to commission while at mass as she prepared to receive holy communion at Sacred Heart Parish in Bradenton, FL.
Francis told the Daily Business News on MHProNews that she is seeking an off-ramp from the drama, but does not want to have the image painted by artist Ingrid Brandt removed.
Francis pointed out to MHProNews other examples of architectural changes in that same section of Bradenton Tropical Palms community she lives in that involve the use of dolphins, geckos, or other symbols. Those other examples may also be viewed as religious in nature.
Which begs the questions, why is Francis’ painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe causing persecution? Why are the others apparently accepted by the resident owned community’s management? Is Francis’ interest in the cooperative ‘resident owned community’ somehow inferior to that of others who live there?
Part of the caustic elements in the evolution of this matter is that the entire affair was arguably sparked by the resident owned community’s own security company.
The security service would reportedly drive by Francis’ home at night, shining a light through her pre-HUD Code mobile home’s window. Some ‘stranger’ would also come by, said Francis, who would peer in. That individual was apparently not spotted or stopped by security in the gated Brandenton Tropical Palms.
So, as a result of those incidents, Francis asked for and was given permission by that ROC to do what others at that property have done, architecturally remove and replace her front window.
A source close to Francis told MHProNews that this hullabaloo may be traced to something as simple as incomplete paperwork. If so, then why all the threats of litigation and eviction over a powerful cultural and religious symbol?
The Orlando Sentinel produced a short video, that included the still-video-frame of a comically evil-looking, mustachioed manager posted above. Is that the image that ROCs or others in the manufactured home industry want? If not, where is the action to intervene and bring this to a proper resolution? Why not let Francis fill out and sign a few papers, and let her keep her artwork, as others in the same community have been allowed to do?
The most recent video about this tragi-comic tale is posted below.
Behind the Veil of the Media Narrative
It is noteworthy that the art has its own legal protection under Florida law. But that law may not necessarily protect the artwork exactly where it is currently located, which is Francis’ stated desire.
The media accounts metaphorically paint Francis as a tough, 85-year-old woman, who will die before she gives up that commissioned art work.
While Francis is indeed determined, she is also a heart patient. The stress over this issue could kill her. When we spoke in person, she had to pause and catch her breath. Tears came to her eyes, as Francis shared the unexpected development of her circumstances.
A brief, follow-up phone call from MHProNews with the valiant senior revealed she was having her heart examined by medical professionals, apparently due to her distress.
A sense of the sheer breath of news coverage are found in the Google screen captures as shown. Well over 100,000 online links to this topic are reported by Google.
Mediation? Arbitration? Litigation?
A possible mediator for Francis has stepped forward. That party spoke to MHProNews at length, off-the-record. While trained in mediation, he is not an attorney. It remains to be seen if he can find a compromise with Knox and Levine.
Otherwise, the case will head to arbitration or the courts.
Where are the Manufactured Home Industry’s Non-Profits?
At the time Millie Francis spoke to the Daily Business News on MHProNews, she was unaware of any activity by any nonprofit on her behalf. There is no known indication since which indicates that has changed. Which should make any industry professional wonder, where are resident and/or trade groups such as:
- ROC USA
- Prosperity Now
- Florida Manufactured Housing Association (FMHA)
- Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI)
on this issue, which has focused global attention on Manufactured Home Living since the Drudge Report linked a news story up?
Perhaps the most in-depth report – and one of the highest ranked among some of this morning’s Google searches – is the one posted on MHProNews. It is found at the link here, and in the related references below the byline.
It should be disclosed that MHProNews provided the Drudge Report with a document containing pages of evidence about Mille Francis’ Our Lady of Guadalupe case. That was sent to the Drudge team prior to our own publication of the report linked here and below.
Within hours of the email shown in the screen capture below, Francis’ narrative was linked up by news media maven Drudge.
A similar document as the one sent to the Drudge team, sent to the Bradenton Tropical Palms, is linked here as a download. The parties certainly ought to know how badly this looks. So, why haven’t they taken a bite of humble pie, and quietly resolved this with Millie Francis?
For reasons made clear in the in-depth report found linked below, which included third-party expert legal commentary, MHProNews editorially believes that the Bradenton Tropical Palms is harming Millie Francis’ civil and religious rights. They and their attorneys are thus arguably negatively impacting the interests of not only Francis, but that of the entire manufactured home industry and its millions of homeowners too.
After all, ponder how this appears to outsiders looking in. If millions of manufactured and mobile home owners live in a land-lease, and this is the kind of treatment that residents receive? How can that be anything other than a negative reflection on our entire profession?
Examples of how the public has reacted to this are predictable, with some examples posted at the detailed report, linked below the byline.
Sense of Urgency?
There ought to be some urgency for the industry’s post-production associations and non-profits to step in and help resolve this matter in a favorable fashion. Francis’ health is an obvious issue. Her rights are purportedly being violated, say legal experts. Plus, these troubling headlines and related reports will likely continue for weeks or months. That will continue to forge a problematic stereotype about our industry, at the very time – the growing affordable housing crisis – that the opposite image is being portrayed than what is needed.
It’s baffling that one or more post-production industry nonprofits have reportedly not already stepped up to help settle this case. As the meme from the Orlando Sentinel exemplifies, this makes a ROC and manufactured home communities in general look like a monster picking on an 85-year-old heart patient, a devout Catholic Christian who felt inspired to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe. Ouch.
Angels? Geckos? Dolphins? Those are all apparently okay.
But the Catholic patroness of the unborn and of the Americas? That’s apparently a no-no at the Bradenton Tropical Palms in Florida.
An affordable housing crisis grows. The National Association of Realtors and others favorably spotlighted in 2018 manufactured homes as the most affordable type of permanent home ownership in America. Nevertheless, due in no small measure to a stream of incidents – including this one – the opportunity for doing more good is misunderstood and maligned.
Warren Buffett is a well-known, big-time supporter of abortion. Apparently, the secular Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington masters of MHVille won’t lift a finger to come to the side of their own industry and this ailing Catholic widow.
What words does one find to describe the outrage this episode should spark from coast-to-coast among industry pros and investors? What words should describe the way this impacts manufactured home owners, and what is more typically an appealing lifestyle?
MHVille’s so-called corporate and non-profit leaders? Where’s your leadership on this top-headline issue? “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, commentary, and analysis.)
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By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.
Tony is the multiple award-winning managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
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