“Stung by recent critiques and fact checks of MHI [Manufactured Housing Institute] before, during, and after the recent Innovative Housing Showcase – for which they have no good response – MHI had to try to change the narrative.”
A source with long, ongoing ties to MHI said the above in response to MHProNews inquiries about the Arlington, VA based trade group’s release to MHI members and followers that is published herein further below.
“You only have to look at the timing of the MHI statement and look at George’s [Allen] follow up to his readers to know that Dick [Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison, MHI President and CEO] coordinated with his compensated pawn. From the perspective of MHI and the [MHI] Executive Committee, Allen is seen as a useful surrogate – a tool that they think they can’t lose with.”
Why? How so?
Allen, per, that source, helps MHI continue to continue their manufactured home industry consolidation campaign with Allen’s help as a masking cover. Allen can be sacrificed like a pawn at any time. But unlike an actual game of chess, MHI can replace Allen any time they want to, once his usefulness to them is done. “The perfect example of that is Suzanne Felber,” of whom that source said that MHI “…tried to use [her as a surrogate in attacks] against MHProNews, but it proved ineffective, so they simply moved on to others like Allen.”
It should be noted that Felber, who is also “compensated,” is still used by MHI for minor event-related tasks.
MHI’s Executive Committee, senior leadership, and outside law firm hired to deal with MHProNews were contacted in response to questions about their statement on 188.8.131.529 to MHI’s members and followers. Cincinnati based Graydon, MHI’s outside law firm that has an office in MHI board member Nathan Smith’s home town of Fort Mitchell, KY, confirmed receipt of the inquiries.
But they have not yet made any formal response.
No official response was made by MHI.
Here is the MHI statement to their readers, which was described by one source as “their latest head-fake,” for purpotedly factual reasons that will be noted afterward. MHI’s statement – with all of their legal threats and warnings not to share this with publicly – follows below. Let’s note that MHProNews does not at this time support this bill as it stands. Nor should publishing this be construed in any way as an endorsement of MHI, for reasons long-time readers understand. As a stating the obvious disclaimer to longtime readers, MHI and their ‘big boy backers’ used to be a sponsor of this site, until questions from this pro-growth trade media apparently became to difficult for them to respond to. Our track record reflects that banner ads or sponsorship doesn’t change our editorial stance, which perhaps explains why we are the most read trade media in the industry by far.
— start of MHI release —
June 13, 2019
MHI Protects Industry and Manufactured Housing Land-Lease Communities from Attack
MHI was able to successfully combat efforts to have anti-industry language included in a bill that would require the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to issue guidelines for localities to consider manufactured housing in their use of federal funds. Nestled within a broader proposal to gain support of localities for manufactured housing, the original language would have actually sought to establish congressional intent that certain manufactured homes and land-lease communities are harmful for consumers.
The original version included language that disparaged the energy efficiency of HUD Code manufactured homes and also criticized all manufactured housing land-lease communities that are not resident-owned. Thanks to MHI’s efforts, the bill that was ultimately introduced on Wednesday, S. 1804, did not include any of the negative language. Instead, the language supports the inclusion of manufactured housing in jurisdictions across America.
MHI was the only association representing the industry to identify the threat and fight for removal of the language prior to Senate introduction. Other associations that claim to represent the industry actually supported the provisions that disparaged manufactured housing. In contrast, MHI worked to have that language removed so that the bill only promotes the industry’s goal of having localities support more manufactured housing in their jurisdictions.
This anti-industry attack was timed during last week’s MHI Homes on the Hill Legislative Fly-In, when policymakers were seeing first-hand the quality and beauty of manufactured housing. MHI appreciates our champions in Congress who worked with us to remove the negative language and ensure the final legislation that was introduced on Wednesday genuinely helps promote manufactured housing. The bill now makes the following positive points about manufactured housing:
(1) Manufactured housing is a significant source of unsubsidized affordable housing in the United States.
(2) Nearly 22,000,000 people in the United States live in manufactured housing, which opens the door to homeownership for families who, in many housing markets, cannot afford to buy a site-built home.
(3) Manufactured housing is the only form of housing regulated by a Federal building code, which includes standards for health, safety, energy efficiency, and durability, and is found on land owned by the homeowner and land leased by the homeowner in communities owned and operated by private entities, nonprofit organizations, or resident owned communities.
(4) Manufactured homes can open the door to homeownership for millions of families; they can appreciate in value and be an effective long-term affordable housing solution for some families and communities across the United States.
If passed, HUD will issue guidelines to states and localities relating to the appropriate inclusion of residential manufactured homes in their comprehensive housing affordability strategies and community development plans, called the Consolidated Plans. HUD requires these Consolidated Plans, which are designed to help states and local jurisdictions assess their affordable housing and community development needs and market conditions, as a part of applications for funding under any of the Community Planning and Development formula grant programs, including the Community Development Block Grant Program, HOME Investment Partnerships Program, and Housing Trust Fund.
S. 1804 was sponsored by Senator Cortez Masto (D-NV) and cosponsored by Senators Scott (R-SC), Smith (D-MN), Young (R-IN) and Cramer (R-ND).
MHI will continue our consistent and constructive presence on Capitol Hill and cultivation of strong bipartisan relationships to ensure that manufactured housing is a part of federal efforts to address the nation’s affordable housing challenges.
— End of the body of MHI’s release —
MHI’s Factual Misses
It should be noted that MHI, for all of their posturing above, did not mentioned that the House and Senate versions of the bill are not identical. Thus, their own claim of fixing the language of the bill is not accurate.
The House version has one or more factual errors, which also arguably undercuts MHI’s posturing, above. For proof, see both versions of the bill, linked below.
Questions were sent to the “MHI compensated surrogate, George Allen,” who has not formally denied nor confirmed that he is “rewarded” – per sources that claim knowledge – for being MHI’s “pawn” and “attack dog.”
One source noted with humor the prior reference on MHProNews of Allen as the roaring, but cowardly lion – which helped suggest the featured image at top, with Allen’s head on the pawn.
But more than one Allen follower copied in messages had things to say to the Daily Business News on MHProNews.
For example, the National Association of Manufactured Housing Community Owners (NAMHCO) provided a detailed on-the-record statements last night to MHProNews, which will follow below.
That source said they understood why MHProNews did articles that included mentions and or does fact-checks of Allen, but the new trade group official saw no value in commenting on “George” at all.
Another source with NAMHCO previously said that Allen’s usefulness to them was mainly for recruiting new members into their association who distrust MHI. There is apparent ongoing communications.
Another source reminded MHProNews of NAMHCO’s prior statement about MHI [shown below], and said that Allen’s missives and flip-flops were too “self-contradictory” for him to have “any credibility.” Further, the public scandals and purported controversies attached to Allen are known by too many to give him use behind his own die hard followers. Ouch.
The NAMHCO source who spoke to MHProNews yesterday likewise saw no value in commenting about MHI or their motivations.
That said, it was noteworthy, per that caller, that HUD officials took a “narrow view” of “enhanced preemption” even though the evidence provided by MHARR reflected a much broader power. That source said that MHARR was correct in pressing the matter. Rephrased, at least one party at NAMHCO sees enhanced preemption as MHARR and MHProNews do. For those readers not yet aware of that issue, see the related report, linked from the text-image box below.
Here is the formal NAMHCO statement to MHProNews.
“We are pleased with the introduction of S.1804, the “HUD Manufactured Housing Modernization Act of 2019.” Beyond the findings sections, this bill actually does something quite important. It requires HUD to issues guidelines to include manufactured housing to states and localities as they develop their comprehensive plans to address affordable housing. This means, manufactured housing could be considered in state and local grant applications for Community Planning and Development grants, HOME investment grants, and the Housing Trust Fund. This bill puts manufactured home communities at the table at both the federal and the state and local level, and presents and opportunity for state and local agencies to support and strengthen the affordable homeownership that communities provide.”
“Additionally, I also attached the House version of the Bill, H.R. 926 introduced by Norma Torres, which NAMHCO did not endorse.”
The post-production, manufactured home community focused trade group also provided the text of the NAMHCO release on the issue, which is found linked here as a download.
The View from MHARR
MHARR had no formal comments about the matter. But a source with the Washington, D.C. based trade group noted that Allen was misguiding his readers because they collect no dues from post-production companies.
Indeed, that fits with their routine statement that “MHARR is a Washington, D.C.-based national trade association representing the views and interests of independent producers of federally-regulated manufactured housing.”
It was purported and ongoing failures of MHI to address financing, placement, and zoning issues – among others – that has motivated MHARR and their members – who produce HUD Code manufactured homes – to go beyond their core mission. In that respect, the trade group is arguably doing more than those who are paid by the post-production sector.
A MHARR source also observed that MHI’s statement – cited above – was not accurate, as they spoke in person with more than one party in Congress connected with the pending bill.
To that point, the questions put to MHI and their outside law firm – which were sent by MHProNews prior to hearing from a contact with MHARR – are worth noting.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
No doubt you’ve also seen the email from your purported surrogate, George F. Allen that followed this email from MHI.
MHProNews would like to see:
1) the original language of the bill,
2) evidence that others in the industry failed to address the matter.
3) the revised language.
4) all communications relative to this bill.
Perhaps more to the point, instead of this legislation, how do you explain MHI’s failure promote enhanced preemption? What evidence can you provide that you’ve asked HUD to fully enforce enhanced preemption?
We are on deadline. While you are welcome to respond now, or later, we’d prefer your on-the-record reply via email asap, so it can be included in our planned report.
What Third Party Legislation Monitoring GovTrack Says
GovTrack, pointing to Skopos Labs research, is giving the MHI supported bill a 3 percent chance of becoming law.
That was similar to the odds GovTrack gave for the MHI backed Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act at various times.
Preserving Access never passed. To learn more about that, see the deeper dive, linked below.
Rope-a-Dope – Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act, Mom, Dad, & You – Masthead L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach
There may be no one analogy that is entirely precise enough to make the point that the promoters of the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act purportedly hoped to accomplish with their bill. All analogies limp at some point, but those disclosures made, let’s begin with the ‘rope and dope metaphor’ from boxing.
Given low odds of passage, this new controversial MHI supported bill – whatever its merits may or may not be – appears to be a moot point.
But that doesn’t mean that the language of the bill in its current – MHI supported – form is without risks. The controversy exists precisely because the bill, per sources, has several possible land-mines. Even without passage, the bill may cause harm to the industry.
Starting with the Title, Reasons Why MHProNews Says Bill is Flawed As Is
“First, it should be realized that the Senate version of this bill is supported by Prosperity Now and MHI. Put differently, that means that Buffett’s fingerprints are on it from two sources. That’s the first red flag, IMHO,” said publisher, consultant, and multiple award-winning L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach.
“Next, whoever the geniuses at Prosperity Now and/or MHI were that gave this bill its name, that too is arguably flawed. Think about the title: “HUD Manufactured Housing Modernization Act of 2019’’. For those who will never read beyond the title, that implies that manufactured homes need to be ‘modernized.’ It’s poor marketing, and factually inaccurate,” said industry expert Kovach.
“How is it that MHI keeps taking positions that undermine the industry’s image? Or why do they back steps that seem to derail or reroute access to more capital, financing, and placement of the industry?” Kovach asked. “Why doesn’t MHI just back a full throated use of Enhanced Preemption? Or the GSE’s Duty to Serve all new HUD Code manufactured home sales, not only those new class of homes that Clayton Homes and MHI wants to sell?”
Beyond the fact that MHI is using this as a purported dodge over their recent misses, he pointed in that last comment to the problematic use of a phrase that is looked at in more depth, below.
Problematic New Class of Homes Angle?
What NAMHCO and Allen have apparently missed is a problem with MHI’s language – quoted above, and recapped below – that could be a reference to the Clayton Homes/MHI backed ‘new class of homes.’ New readers are reminded that MHProNews often takes a direct quote and makes the text bold and brown so it ‘pops,’ but otherwise leaves the quoted statement unaltered.
Quoting from MHI’s email: “If passed, HUD will issue guidelines to states and localities relating to the appropriate inclusion of residential manufactured homes in their comprehensive housing affordability strategies and community development plans,” with the underscoring editorially added.
Sources tell MHProNews that “residential manufactured homes” is not language used in federal legislation already in effect on HUD Code manufactured housing. It may be a possible end-around way of promoting ONLY the Clayton/MHI backed ‘new class’ of homes, or one more ‘Trojan Horse.’
As MHI themselves admit, “If” the bill is passed, which is low odds, per GovTrack. Which brings industry professionals and advocates back to the issue of the lack of consistent enforcement of “enhanced preemption,” which MHI seems unwilling to support, per prior reporting that MHI has not challenged.
Thus, posturing by MHI and their surrogate Allen on this issue yesterday, and repeated red-herring style head-fakes by both ought to be seen for what it is.
Meanwhile the industry:
- is now into 8 consecutive months of year-over-year declines in new home shipments during an affordable housing crisis.
- MHI continues to put up fig leaf videos and statements, which get very little visibility beyond industry members, which are their apparent target audience. How does that help increase industry shipments? Isn’t it the public that needs persuasion?
- Despite MHI saying they invite questions – “If you have any questions, please contact MHI’s Government Affairs Department” – they continue to exercise their Fifth Amendment protected right to remain silent when asked by MHProNews, even though they routinely replied promptly until questions by MHProNews apparently became to difficult for them to navigate. That fits the pattern of Rick Robinson, SVP and General Counsel, and MHI’s Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison, ducking questions in public for 2 years when asked by MHProNews.
Downturn Harming Independents, Would-Be Consumers
Independent manufactured home industry members have been telling MHProNews that they are personally impacted by the downturn in new HUD Code manufactured home sales, which only makes sense based upon the statistics.
Meanwhile, MHI, while claiming “clout,” uses that for photo opportunities – or even nice videos – but demonstrably continues to miss at what matters most to businesses, investors, and professionals. Namely, the bottom line of more sales.
“One of the most insightful phrases this year in describing MHI is the “Illusion of Motion,” said Kovach. “Their controversial bill is arguably an example of how MHI is running around the block to do what full implementation of Enhanced Preemption and better lending demanded by DTS would achieve. If they had clout, what this bill claims to do could be done by administrative fiat. It’s almost pointless.”
“If they really care about growth instead of consolidation, MHI, NAMHCO, and others should join MHARR and MHProNews in calling for full enforcement of the industry’s good, existing laws. We consistently pushed for enforcing existing laws before, while we were MHI members, and since. Everything else is a dodge, distraction, and delay that is costing our industry billions of dollars collectively every year.”
He added, “Its a disgrace that MHI and Allen aren’t robustly promoting enhanced preemption and the good news that Secretary Ben Carson has made available, instead of this latest head fake. They are arguably deceptive cowards, unwilling to face in public and debate the issues that are costing this industry billions, and are leaving millions who could benefit from manufactured homes with a false perception — shame on their disgraceful behavior.”
See the related reports, below the byline and notices for more.
That’s today’s second installment of “News Through the Lens of Manufactured Homes, and Factory-Built Housing,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)
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Conquest Capitalism – Thoughts of Chairman Warren Buffett – Billionaires Campaign to Control Trillion Dollar Affordable Housing Market – Masthead L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach
The year was 1998. It happened to be the year that manufactured housing hit its last peak, but it was also the year that Simon Reynolds compiled and published ” Thoughts of Chairman Buffett – Thirty Years of Unconventional Wisdom from the Sage of Omaha.”
MHARR Launches “Fighting Discriminatory Zoning Mandates” Manufactured Housing Project | Manufactured Housing Association Regulatory Reform
Washington, D.C., May 15, 2019 – With manufactured housing producers, retailers and communities offering their best homes (and related consumer protection) ever, and in light of the failure of the ostensible representation of the industry’s post-production sector to fully and effectively advance the marketing, consumer financing and, most importantly, the full acceptance of federally-regulated manufactured housing as the nation’s premiere source of non-subsidized affordable housing and homeownership, the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) has launched a new project and initiative to fight selected, especially egregious instances of discriminatory and exclusionary zoning targeting manufactured housing and manufactured housing consumers.