“Pay more attention to what people do than what they say.”
– Marty Lavin, J.D., manufactured home industry veteran of retail, community and finance,
MHI award winner.
“Follow the money.”
– Marty Lavin, J.D.
– Frank Rolfe, Manufactured Housing Institute National Community Council
(MHI/NCC) member, speaking about an MHI leader.
– L.A ‘Tony’ Kovach, award-winning manufactured
home industry professional, publisher of MHProNews,
speaking about the latest revelations.
“They will use censorship and threats to keep people in line.”
– Tucker Carlson,
– host of Tucker Carlson Tonight, speaking about an example of trying to
silence opposition voices, which he said is
contrary to the principles of a democratic republic.
“Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases.
Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”
– Louis D. Brandeis, Former Associate Justice of the
Supreme Court of the United States, per IZ Quotes.
Among the biggest issues in manufactured housing industry are:
- public image,
- zoning/places, and
- more robust access to competitive financing, especially on ‘home only,’ personal property chattel loans.
Directly and indirectly, these issues were front and center in the conference call with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) of 2000 mandated meeting on 8.6.2019 of the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC).
During the first public comment portion of the HUD/MHCC conference call yesterday morning, every person who spoke claimed to be in support of HUD fully and properly implementing the “enhanced preemption” portion of the MHIA 2000. That should be encouraging, but also begs the question, why is a law approaching 2 decades old still not being fully enforced and implemented? Hold that thought.
During that portion of the conference call, the statement made below – when properly understood – is the first of two bombshells. The comment was made by a longtime HUD insider.
Federal enhanced preemption was ‘one of the most important things in the whole statutory scheme’ that the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) enacted, said William ‘Bill’ Matchneer, J.D., former administrator of the Office of Manufactured Housing Programs (OMHP). Matchneer is now a senior partner for the Bradley law firm, which has done periodic contract work for the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), among others.
Matchneer said during that public comments portion of the conference call that the HUD ‘general counsel at the time’ he served at OMHP ‘refused to take on the preemption issue.’ That statement by Matchneer fits an insider tip from HUD to MHLivingNews reported about 2½ years ago.
Matchneer explained that without a HUD general counsel’s backup, he was left with a ‘letter writing campaign’ that worked about ‘4 times out of 5’ to get enhanced preemption enforced by a local jurisdiction that was in apparent violation of federal law.
Matchneer went on today to say that ‘It is a lot more authoritative to have general counsel’ issue a statement and that pressing enhanced preemption ‘Really needs to be considered’ by HUD and the MHCC.
In a follow up to his statement, Matchneer told MHProNews via email that his comments were not prepared, but rather sprung up as a response to the discussion on the preemption issue and its importance. Matchneer “just said what was on my mind. The point is that preemption enforcement is a matter for OGC [Office of General Counsel], and OGC should be prepared to ask DOJ to bring an action if a local jurisdiction refuses to comply with the preemption requirements of the Act.“
Kaboom. But that begs several questions, which the next revelation and what follows will shed light on.
Cavco’s Manuel ‘Manny’ Santana on Enhanced Preemption
In formal testimony to the House Committee on Financial Services, Cavco Industries director of engineering previously said on behalf of his company and MHI the following on the subject of enhanced preemption.
Keep in mind that MHProNews team reported recently that after months of steady pressure, MHI finally wrote to HUD Secretary Ben Carson asking him to promoting Enhanced Preemption. MHARR and MHProNews team members had done so previously.
MHI has two staffers on yesterday’s conference call. They said that MHI wanted enhanced preemption promoted. A follow up report will lay out additional information on this topic, but for today, MHProNews wants to laser focus on this next point.
· Despite Santana’s prior statement asking for enhanced preemption to be enforced,
· ignoring what Bill Matchneer and others said during the 8.6.2019 conference call in support of getting enhanced preemption as a focus,
· and in clear contradiction to MHI’s own recent letter to Secretary Carson, linked here, or the prior statement by Santana to the House subcommittee,
· when discussion of DRC #1 was raised that stressed the importance of enhanced preemption, Santana said that it was a ‘personal comment’ and that it should be rejected.
What? Yes, you may want to read it again, but MHI’s representative encouraged the committee to vote down the opposite of what MHI’s letter to HUD Secretary Carson on July 18th said they wanted.
While MHI may have taken umbrage and HUD’s summation of the DRC#1 or the original comments letter itself, which was more important? MHI’s ego, or their claimed support of enhanced preemption?
The Evidence and Facts Matter
If MHI truly wanted to see preemption supported, then why didn’t they weigh in and ask HUD to intervene in various cases during 2018 and 2019 that MHProNews brought to their attention where local jurisdictions were preparing to – or did pass – a partial or complete ban on HUD manufactured homes?
Why are the words “enhanced preemption” still missing from the public portions of the MHI website?
How can MHI explain their failure to raise the issue of full enforcement of the MHIA – including its enhanced preemption provision – with HUD Secretary Carson when they had several in person meetings with him during the past 2 years?
If MHI asked for enforcement of the MHIA 2000 and enhanced preemption prior to their July 18, 2019 letter to Dr. Carson, then why have they provided no evidence for such a request?
Furthermore, if such a request had been made, why is HUD still failing to enforce the law?
The quotes cited at the top bear in the light of the facts and questions herein a second look.
Marty Lavin’s comments about discerning the difference between what MHI says vs. what they do is revealing as well.
Equally relevant is Lavin’s comment about MHI working for the interests of the big boys.
It must be noted that the public comments by Skyline Champion’s CEO Mark Yost – cited at length in the article linked below – indicate that they expect a continuation of this current downturn in manufactured housing. What?
Why would a protracted downturn be acceptable? Isn’t there an affordable housing crisis? Didn’t Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison say on camera that manufactured housing could attain 500,000 new HUD Code home shipments annually?
There is a pattern that is coming into ever clearer focus for longtime MHProNews readers. MHI often postures with nice sounding words, but do they follow those words up with deeds that generate measurable forward results? If MHI were serious on enforcing the law, why did the not engage on the Bryan, TX manufactured home ban before it occurred?
Who benefits from a now 10-month year-over-year downturn? Isn’t it larger firms that would like to acquire smaller firms at a discounted rate?
The Stark Contrast Between Words and Deeds
MHI can say what they want, but Manny Santana urged a NO vote yesterday – that’s a vote against enhanced preemption. Matchneer, MHARR, and others not on that MHCC subcommittee could not vote in support of DRC#1.
One can use the word ‘alleged,’ but aren’t the facts clear? MHI says they want HUD to ‘enforce the law,’ but when given an opportunity to press the point, their committee spokesperson voted against it yesterday. That’s a bombshell wake up call to the industry.
Yesterday Bill Matchneer confirmed that HUD has long had forces working inside that agency to thwart the full implementation of federal law. To give but one more example, do we need a reminder of Pam Danner?
These items will be explored more in planned reports that will shed additional light on the events yesterday in the days ahead. Stay tuned and if you aren’t already on our emailed headline news updates, sign up at this link here free in seconds.
That’s our exclusive look on a critical issue in manufactured housing “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)
Submitted by Soheyla Kovach for MHProNews.com.
Soheyla is a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. Connect with us on LinkedIn here and here.
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