Florida Manufactured Housing Association (FMHA) Executive Director Jim Ayotte has at various times been effectively lauded and questioned in factual and evidence-based critiques, reports, and analysis published by MHProNews over the years. Following a pair of exposés where a corporate management level Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) member firm, Ayotte-led FMHA published the following press release. While it has weaknesses that will be explored herein, the FMHA move represents a step in the right direction that other associations in the MHI orbit – and MHI itself – should follow. After the media release will be additional facts, evidence and more MHProNews Masthead analysis and commentary.
The Housing Affordability Conundrum
Factory-Built Housing is Housing for Today and Tomorrow.
TALLAHASSEE, FL, UNITED STATES, August 13, 2021 / — Multiple articles are published daily about the growing need for affordable housing. Unfortunately, the term ‘affordable housing’ often conjures up images of low-income, government-subsidized housing located in less desirable areas of the community. While this is a piece of the affordable housing market, it is a small piece. A much larger segment of the market is housing for working families that cannot afford the high cost of homeownership.
The cost of housing in Florida has exploded over the past year. In June, the median price of a single-family home was $351,000. Today, a family needs to earn more than $75,000 a year to afford a median priced home in Florida. The problem is the median household income in Florida is only $55,000 and the gap between home prices and wages is increasing, not decreasing.
There are limited ways to decrease the housing affordability gap. One way is for local governments to recognize the quality and efficiency of factory-built housing and to adopt inclusionary zoning that allows manufactured homes in residential areas subject to certain aesthetic requirements. This land use policy will ensure that factory-built manufactured homes are compatible with other single-family residences while expanding homeownership opportunities for hard working families.
The Case for Factory-Built Manufactured Housing
Manufactured homes cost 15 to 30 percent less than comparable site-built homes. The reason the cost is lower is because manufactured homes are constructed to a uniform federal building code administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in a controlled factory environment where materials are engineered and pre-cut for a better fit and finish. The factory homebuilding process is quicker and more precise than building a home on site, which saves time and money. Additional cost savings is realized through the bulk purchase of building materials and appliances, which are stored under a roof and protected from the elements.
Manufactured homes are built with the same building materials as conventional site-built housing and recent studies have concluded that today’s manufactured homes perform on par or better than comparable site-built homes with respect to wind resiliency and fire safety. There is no doubt that factory-built homes are the best housing value in America today.
Learn more about today’s manufactured homes at www.fmha.org or contact the Florida Manufactured Housing Association to discuss how factory built manufactured homes can support your community’s affordable housing strategy.
Florida Manufactured Housing Association
Additional Information, Facts, Evidence, MHProNews Analysis and Masthead Commentary
The timeline here is insightful. As was noted at the top, MHProNews published some sobering comments by a corporate leader for an MHI member firm. That warning stated point-by-point that properly advanced, the industry could enjoy continued sustained growth. But without MHI taking certain obviously needed steps, that professional thought was looming and issues that MHI has talked about but has thus far failed to properly respond to would lead to another downturn in manufactured housing. It was summed up by saying that MHI was not “walking the walk.”
Our first report on that emerging alarm from an MHI member was dated 8.9.2021, and quickly rose to the #1 most read article on MHProNews. Because our platform is the unchallenged runaway largest, that means by implication that it is the #1 most read article in all of manufactured housing trade media during August.
Two days after the above, the follow up below was published on August 11, 2021.
The media release from FMHA’s Ayotte, per EIN, was provided by the “Florida Manufactured Housing Association on August 13, 2021, 14:00 GMT.” Let’s note that several in MHI leadership were contacted to obtain a response. None did. Sources indicate that Ayotte became aware of that outreach to MHI. There is more to know on the background to elements that may have sparked this press release by the FMHA. But that will be held for now, pending the evolution of this issue of properly promoting manufactured housing during an affordable housing crisis.
That noted, whereas FMHA has made this effort, MHI has thus far been officially mute on the controversy. At times in the past, Ayotte has spoken out on issues in a meeting setting that challenged the MHI staff leadership. What will or won’t happen in this emerging questioning of MHI’s leadership and purported failure to perform their jobs is yet to be known. Time will obviously tell.
That noted, let’s unpack what the FMHA has done in this matter. The Masthead, an editorial blog on MHProNews, takes the position that something good is always better than nothing at all. While there are reasons to question – as has been previously reported by MHProNews – some aspects of the FMHA/BowStern promotion, a fair and scientific case can be made that there is more right or correct about the FMHA effort than is wrong. To apply the wisdom of the brilliant scholar G.K. Chesterton – the master of witty paradox said, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly” – done badly, that is, until it is done well. This FMHA effort was not bad, it was a reasonable start.
Hopefully, the FMHA and others will benefit from the analysis that follows. The good, bad and missed will be examined here. On the positive side, this pitch for manufactured homes connected to the affordable housing crisis is a prudent one.
While it doesn’t get into the weeds on federal preemption, the FMHA has positioned the notion that local officials should accept manufactured homes that often resemble other conventional site built housing.
One weakness in the FMHA media release is where they seem to be following an equally problematic MHI tendency. That is that FMHA and MHI have understated the savings on the cost of a manufactured home vs conventional construction. Per the FMHA release, “Manufactured homes cost 15 to 30 percent less than comparable site-built homes.” But their own video on the FMHA website clearly – and more aptly – states that the savings is about half that of conventional construction. Restated, their press release is contradicted by the more accurate claim in the video shown on their home page, and once more hereby featured by MHProNews below.
That disconnect in the data from their presentation noted, unlike MHI, FMHA spends not one line on the obviously failed and flawed Clayton Homes backed, MHI branded CrossMods scheme. Good for Ayotte and FMHA, because the likelihood is that the emerging 3D printed housing is the looming nail in the coffin of the overhyped and underperforming CrossModTM scheme.
Hopefully MHI and dozens of other state associations will take note and follow FMHA’s lead on that and the need to promote the industry in a more authentic, rather than fig leaf or posturing manner.
While common to most manufactured housing industry trade groups, including MHI, the case can be made that this next statement by the FMHA should be more nuanced in the future.
“Manufactured homes are built with the same building materials as conventional site-built housing and recent studies have concluded that today’s manufactured homes perform on par or better than comparable site-built homes with respect to wind resiliency and fire safety.” The last part is fine, but might benefit from actual third party references. Doing so would strengthen their largely useful pitch. But the first part merits rephrasing.
Instead, it should read something like this: “Manufactured homes are made with the same types of building materials that conventional housing is built…” Ayotte and other association pros should know why that rephrasing is important. They should not follow MHI’s lead out of habit or for any other possibly misguided reasons.
With those nuances noted, other things that could benefit this the next time around is the substitution of a better generic illustration that looks more realistic. A collage of images could be used that shows a single sectional, a multi-sectional without a garage, and then a multi-sectional with a garage. There are plenty of examples in Florida of illustrations or photos that could be obtained without a specific brand name used, as Florida-based Triad Financial Service (TFS) has used in their literature. Such an illustration could elevate all three options and thus elevate the single sectional lifestyle by making that too appealing.
Then, the FMHA should add their own “hand made homes” video, because they already have it produced. The FMHA home page features that video. While the campaign may not have traction yet, adding it to a follow up of this FMHA release can only help their effort.
All that noted, this media release overall stands head and shoulders above what much of MHI has done via advertorials in days gone by. As noted, former MHI chair and still 21st Mortgage Corporation CEO Tim Williams summed up nicely what out to occur.
As Williams said in that same exclusive to MHProNews, the industry has a good story to tell. Which only begs the question, why has MHI done such a demonstrably ineffective job?
Post-production trade groups, or umbrella trade groups like MHI or the FMHA ought to keep focused on P.E.P. Protect. Educate. Promote. Every piece of misinformation should be swiftly challenged. It is not like the industry doesn’t have decades of examples of what to expect. It is another MHI member, Joanne Stevens, who said on the record that (MHI implied) is clearly unprepared. She said it like this.
The question is, will FMHA keep this up? For some time, the Modular Home Builders Association (MHBA) did a monthly item in mainstream media. There are numerous ways that industry trade groups can learn from what not to do by what MHI has done (or not done). There is much more that could be said, but that is a sufficient start for FMHA, MHI – if they decide to pivot – or other state affiliates to use as an intellectual template to address the concerns raised by that MHI member.
To draw this fact-check and analysis to a close, the following mythical exchange, per Reddit, is an insightful quote from the TV series, The Mentalist. “Craig O’Laughlin tells Grace in her vision “You can’t open your eyes a little bit, Grace. You got to open them all the way if you want to see the truth of things.””
There is an evidence based case that stands publicly unchallenged that several dominating brands are steadily consolidating the manufactured home industry. It would be too much to say that this is all on MHI, it is not. But it is a miss to fail to hold MHI to the standards that they have claimed for themselves.
What has been occurring in our industry is a charade. That smokescreen of posturing has been steadily exposed by people in and out of MHI. Just comparing and contrasting what they claim vs. what they do is sufficient to realize that they are a faux association, irrespective of whatever they might have been before the Berkshire era began.
From the classic movie Charade, a distraught character Reggie Lampert asks: “Why do people have to tell lies?” Peter Joshua wisely intones, “Usually its because they want something. They are afraid that the truth won’t get it for them.”
Ayotte led FMHA has taken a step. Time will tell if they and others in the MHI orbit will follow them up with more. All in the mix must be held to account. As Ayotte’s release aptly noted, there is an affordable housing crisis. The needs are great. Manufactured housing is a proven solution.
Which leads us back to the Rev. Donald Tye Jr.’s question, then why is it that manufactured housing hasn’t been promoted and advanced as it should be? The answer is found by following the money trail, because the status quo clearly benefits a few at great cost and harm to the many. ###
Notice to MHI members. Follow up emails to several MHI linked attorneys – not one disputed the claim by the law firm cited in the report below. MHI has demonstrably created an ‘amen corner,’ an echo chamber that parrots their talking points. MHI and those involved have not denied that evidence-based allegation.
But as, or perhaps more important, is this below. For those MHI members who are aware of what is occurring, but who fail to stand up or speak up in some form or fashion, legal experts cited below say that it could make those members vulnerable to legal action, just as MHI is. To learn more, see the related report linked below.
“Tangled Web” “Deception and Misdirection” – Havenpark Capital-Havenpark Communities, Fannie Mae, Manufactured Housing Institute “Displaced Inc” – MHAction, Warren Buffett, Embarrassing MHIndustry Blogger Fact Check
The evidence routinely points one way. No wonder why MHI, their major brands, and even their outside attorneys all went silent when it comes to engaging with MHProNews on these troubling trends and growing evidence.
Stay tuned for more of what is ‘behind the curtains’ as well as what is obvious and in your face reports. It is all here, at the runaway largest and most-read source for authentic manufactured home “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing.
For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.