“In the business world, the rear view mirror is always clearer than the windshield.”
– Warren Buffett quote, per Industry Week.
“For he lives twice who can at once employ, The present well, and e’en the past enjoy.”
– Alexander Pope, per GoodReads.
“Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them.”
– George Santayana, according to WikiQuote.
“What we learn from history is that people don’t learn from history.
And you certainly see that in financial markets all the time.”
– Warren Buffett, per MastersInvest.
In reflecting on the quotes above as they relate to what follows further below, readers are reminded of the principle of separating the wheat from the chaff. There is good and ill found in each of the thinkers above, and quoting that source isn’t to imply agreement with all that they might have said, done, or do.
With that preface:
- a tip on a developing story was received yesterday afternoon from a mainstream media news source. It deals with an issue that journalist has been covering connected to manufactured housing and will be part of a report planned for early next week on MHProNews. Stay tuned to a what appears to be a new wrinkle to a previously identified and troubling pattern.
- On a different topic in another state, a MHEC (Manufactured Housing Executives Committee) member state association executive has provided feedback on an issue making headlines in his jurisdiction. That vexing news will be part of a separate planned report currently set for next week.
- Yet another MHEC member state executive responded to an inquiry regarding an investigation into an issue about a member in her jurisdiction. Stay informed on these developments.
Those bullets above are upcoming, but what is already known and reflected below beg the headline question. Why doesn’t the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) directly respond to inquiries put to them in the last 2 years about issues that concern our industry’s members? Others in the HUD Code manufactured home industry routinely do reply, normally promptly, either on and/or off the record. Why then does MHI duck questions that they previously responded to in a timely fashion from this source that they and several of their key members often praised?
Do the questions posed here about issues and performance disrupt the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis narrative? How does MHI’s emailed communiques relate to assuaging the concerns and interests of the manufactured housing industry’s dwindling numbers of independents? Why did they respond timely for years to MHProNews previously, but more recently fail to directly reply in the past two years?
– Why has MHI not prominently promoted the good that HUD Secretary Ben Carson has laid out that could be used to overcome the various stigmas and misunderstandings about manufactured housing?
– Why does MHI tout Secretary Carson’s useful words mainly to their own members in emails, but not do so in ways that are picked up by search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, or Duck Duck Go?
– Why did MHI make good videos of the Innovative Housing Showcase on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in early June, 2019, but then make those same videos difficult to find online, or even on their own website? Why where those videos touted to their members, but not made plainly available to the general public, where they could do the most good?
– The Arlington, VA based trade group in late 2018 touted a self-promotional video that shows what they have done and are supposedly doing to promote manufactured housing. That video is found on their home page today, almost a year after it was first produced.
– By contrast, why aren’t videos from the Homes on the Hill portion of the Innovative Housing Showcase – or mainstream news videos reports about HUD Secretary Carson praising modern manufactured homes – also on the MHI home page? Or why aren’t such readily found on the MHI website, even by using their website search tool?
“With the industry into month ten of an entirely avoidable downturn in production, shipments, and new manufactured home sales, doesn’t the Manufactured Housing Institute [MHI] have some explaining to do?” – asked former MHI board member L.A. ‘Tony’ Kovach, an award-winning industry consultant and publisher of MHProNews.
Another longtime MHI member and award-winner Marty Lavin, J.D. said the following this week to MHProNews about the report linked immediately below. Lavin after reading that new Manufactured Home Living News report, asked for a single refinement, which was promptly done. He then said the following on the record as a long-standing principle he uses to analyze organizational or professional behavior.
“Pay more attention to what people are doing than what they are saying. Or,
never mind what people are saying, watch what they are doing.”
Given that an attorney formerly with HUD and the CFPB – who’s law-firm does work for MHI – went on the record with his industry peers and raised very specific comments about the failure to implement key provisions of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA), why has MHI still not published those references on their own website? See the screen capture below. In that same HUD/MHCC conference call, 2 MHI staffers stressed their support for enhanced preemption. Really? If that is now an MHI priority, was is it invisible on their own website? Are such claims by MHI of support that have come only after months of sustained pressure merely posturing by MHI, done to appease their independent members?
Related, why has HUD failed to change purportedly misleading and inaccurate information about the MHIA 2000 on the HUD website? That example is linked here and here as a download. HUD’s Office of Manufactured Housing Program (OMHP) official(s) were on that conference call referenced above too. They are well aware of the concerns prior to that call. It has been raised in writing, in DRC comments, as well as verbally on that conference call. HUD officials routinely read here on MHProNews, per insider sources. That begs the question, why haven’t officials at OMHP acted upon enhanced preemption or the issue on their website linked above?
Also on point, why has HUD’s OMHP ignored the requests to intervene in cases like Bryan, TX? HUD has done so previously, as former OMHP administrator Bill Matchneer, JD, has said. One such example is linked here. The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) cited other examples in a letter to HUD Secretary Carson, found as a download linked here.
These examples just noted not only raise specific concerns voiced in DRC 1 to HUD in 2017, shown below, but they arguably confirm the allegation made in that DRC. This deregulatory comment (DRC) was specifically discussed on a recent HUD Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC) conference call. MHI’s rep moved to vote it down. They were certainly capable of nuancing their support, rejecting the allegation against their organization, and they logically could have proven it wrong by voting to advance DRC 1.
“Facts are stubborn things,” said Mark Weiss, JD, President and CEO of MHARR. According to sources, the most popular article this year on the MHARR website is one penned by Weiss entitled the “Illusion of Motion.” Perhaps it is popular with industry readers because it aptly describes what is occurring in MHVille’s largest trade group?
Following the Money, Facts, Evidence, and Patterns of Activity in MHVille
A new report with an infographic published on MHProNews outlines why the potential for manufactured homes and other forms of factory home building are so high.
Yet despite the need for millions of affordable homes, and facts that ‘on paper’ MHI and MHARR often agree upon, MHI in practice purportedly fails to do what they claim and posture with metaphorical fig leaves. Years of their failure to perform caused several communities and state associations to break from MHI, with these words published below.
Lavin, an MHI award winner, has said he closely tracks our reports. Indeed, besides MHI’s own staff reading here, MHI hired an outside attorney who stated in writing that they would be closely monitoring our reports. Put differently, there is no way that MHI can claim ignorance on these topics of concern. As noted, something similar can be said about HUD and their OMHP.
Third-party information, as well as direct comments from high-level industry professionals in and out of MHI have said that they are regular readers. That all fits what Barry Cole has previously said.
The reason that matters is this. There is a sad pattern involving MHI for some years now that arguably has been to posture effort that often leads nowhere, save more industry consolidation. That purported pattern of behavior has earned them satirical variations on the three letter MHI acronym for their name, such as the ‘Monopolistic Housing Institute,’ the ‘Machiavellian Housing Institute,’ etc. Their key members have often been involved in well published legal issues and/or purported scandals.
But perhaps as concerning is evidence and claims that people at HUD, and elsewhere in the federal government, are working with MHI and key “big boy” members to thwart the implementation of existing federal laws. See again the download from HUD linked here, which sources say fits MHI’s desire to obscure the truth for a time, while consolidation continues. Once the powers that be behind MHI decide they’ve consolidated enough of the industry, such existing laws would be worth potentially tens of billions of dollars a year in new business, many times the currently flaccid performance of the HUD Code manufactured home industry.
All of that arguably impacts current manufactured home owners, would be buyers, investors, existing independents, and taxpayers. How many now stuck in rental housing would be living in a manufactured home and building equity if MHI were properly doing what they claim to IRS that they do? Beyond antitrust concerns raised by MHI’s own disclosure, how many other issues are such as perjury, deceptive trade practices, elements of fraud, misuse of the wires/mail/RICO, and more forms of corruption are at play at MHI? How many instances involve their largest member?
Given that public statements by MHI’s former president and SVP have also raised related concerns, isn’t there more than enough to spark formal congressional inquiries? Certainly, the resident group leader noted below has become convinced of that need.
The impact of thwarting the implementation of good existing federal laws harms millions of current home owners as well as manufactured home sales. Further harm is done because MHI allows misinformation to routinely go unanswered. That is contrary to what former MHI Chairman and still Executive Committee Member Tim Williams has said.
These examples can in several ways be boiled down to that “Illusion of Motion” that is so reportedly so popular on the MHARR website.
“The Illusion of Motion Versus Real-World Challenges” | Manufactured Housing Association Regulatory Reform
Motion – or, more accurately, activity – in and of itself, is not necessarily synonymous with, or equivalent to, realprogress, or, in fact, any progress at all.
In response, MHI periodically is forced to pivot from time to time, after sustained public pressure. They did so on the DOE energy rule, also on Pam Danner’s performance at HUD, and more recently on enhanced preemption.
While MHI reportedly cut a deal with a blogger who was himself an MHI critic for years to attack this platform and MHARR, that same blogger’s website still has claims about monopolistic practices like these that follow on it. Oops.
The industry has amazing potential to serve the needs of millions of Americans. But so long as internal challenges and evidence of market manipulation are allowed to go unresolved, this will arguably be a pattern of underperformance that will only continue. That costs taxpayers in housing subsidies that might otherwise be saved. It costs renters that could be home owners. It costs millions of existing manufactured home owners more in interest, because the Duty to Serve manufactured housing isn’t being fully enforced either. Top officials, sometimes new to their roles, may be ‘in the dark’ for a time, but lower ranking federal officials who deal with these issues day by day most certainly can’t claim ignorance of such details. Some of these may be cases of the ‘revolving door’ that exists when federal officials later become lobbyists.
Several federal investigations are reportedly underway involving some of these issues, but Congress and Trump Administration officials can and should do more.
To learn more about other related political topics and how that impacts manufactured housing, see the related reports beyond the byline and notices on this lengthy installment 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 here.
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