Skeptical industry pros take note. The issues raised by Senator Elizabeth Warren are real, which will be addressed further below. Is her approach correct? That is another question.
ICYMI, or need a reminder, the 2020 hopeful has been going after several manufactured home community owner/operators. One of them is listed on the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) website as a member “Havenpark Management,” but is known as Havenpark Capital. Senator Warren has termed the behavior of several MHI member and connected firms as ‘legalized looting.’ It must also be noted for the detail minded that Warren is surging in polling, and now may be the #1 Democratic candidate per recent Iowa polling. That’s noteworthy, because the community she visited is located in Iowa.
Sources among manufactured home resident groups tell MHProNews that they are following and in contact with those impacted by Havenpark’s purported ‘black hat’ behavior.
For new readers or those who need a reminder as to what sparked Warren’s ‘legalized looting’ comments, this local news video helps set the stage. Note that local media is using inaccurate terminology, as the homes appear to be mostly – if not all – HUD Code manufactured homes.
It should also be noted, as MHLivingNews reported, that Warren has previously addressed an activist group meeting that included members of MHAction.
The letters from Senator Warren to Havenpark Capital and other firms routinely associated with MHI are linked here as a download. MHProNews and our public-facing sister site has been tracking this controversy for months.
Will MHI do anything, given that they recently reminded their members about their code of ethical conduct? Based on years of past behavior, don’t bet on it.
The Berkshire Connections…
Besides Warren Buffett’s ‘follow the money’ support of MHAction, there is more connections between Buffett and Berkshire and these problematic issues that Warren is probing and bringing media attention to, as the photos and videos shown reveal.
For example, Berkshire Hathaway unit commercial real estate unit leader Joanne Stevens publicly blasted the ‘the industry’ for not being prepared for the firestorm that erupted over these issues that Senator Warren has raised. ‘The industry’ is often a phrase understood as code-words for MHI, which claims to represent all segments of manufactured and factory-built housing. What Stevens didn’t mention in the report linked below was her role, or MHI’s ties to firms involved in these controversies.
On the one hand, Warren has spoken about the need to reign in these problematic practices.
But the reality of the problems acknowledged, several questions ought to be asked.
- Does Senator Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign know of the connection between MHAction, the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, and Warren Buffett’s donations that help fund that effort?
- Does the Warren campaign know that every company spotlighted by the John Oliver viral video errantly named “Mobile Homes” is connected to and/or a member of the Manufactured Housing Institute?
- Does the Warren Campaign realize that without more new construction that rent control alone will make the problems worse in time, not better? Is she aware that one of the firms that she is investigating – affiliated with ‘Frank and Dave’ – is advocating for no more construction of manufactured home communities? The letters from Senator Warren to Havenpark, Frank and Dave, and others is linked here as a download.
While this news video is out of Canada, it aptly makes the point that rent control alone will not solve the issues for residents that MHAction and others routinely seek. Note, they too have terminology problems, north of the border.
Whatever her campaign does or doesn’t know about the queried topics, it is of obvious interest to the manufactured housing industry’s professionals, investors, and homeowners too.
Warren has said several potentially useful things about antitrust action, but so far, nothing with respect to antitrust in manufactured housing. Why not?
MHProNews will continue to monitor these issues, because despite the supposedly ‘proactive stance’ that MHI leader Nathan Smith promised, where is the evidence of that in cases like those reported? Note that this interview clip was videoed prior to the numerous issues that arose about Nathan Smith led SSK Communities.
The photos of the Warren were taken by the Des Moines Register recently during her campaign stop at North Liberty’s Golfview manufactured home community, owned by Havenpark Capital. More photos with captions are found at the Register’s link here.
That’s your second look today of “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing,” © 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 and here.
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