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Subsidized Housing vs Manufactured Homes, Community Owner Marge Clark Sounds Off

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Photo collage are elements from the Grand Lakeview website, and are provided under fair use guidelines for media. Text was added by MHProNews.

The website of Marge Clark’s Grand Lakeview Estates website says “FOR forty-four years we have been improving the quality of life and reducing the cost of living for our residents, who’ve downsized from their “big” houses.”

The new HUD budget proposal for 2020 is out.  It calls for billions of dollars in federal housing subsidizes. Those tax dollars may have matching state or local funds too.

When asked about the controversy over subsidized housing vs. manufactured homes, notably those in a community setting, Clark said the following to MHProNews. As is typical on our website, direct quotes are in bold and brown text. The underscoring and italics were in the original from Clark.

The largest competitor to our affordable 55+ manufactured housing communities is and has been subsidized “affordable” housing.  Over the years we have lost many residents from our genuinely affordable housing communities, to the new subsidized “affordable” housing.  Seniors on retirement income, more than most groups qualify for subsidized “affordable” housing.  Seniors on retirement income, more than most groups qualify for subsidized “affordable” housing.  How can a non-subsidized senior affordable housing provider compete with their own tax dollars?  Instead of seniors remaining in their functioning, habitable “old” home they are drawn by the siren call of  new subsidized “affordable” housing.  Subsidized housing which boasts granite counter tops, high end stoves, refrigerators, dishwashers, washers and dryers, garages, geothermal–all of this and utilities for a guaranteed limit of 30% of income.   While the subsidized “me” generation are lining up to live very comfortably and inexpensively–our children and grandchildren will be weighed down debt slaves in part because of this deceptively labelled “affordable housing”.  Seems equitable and sustainable—doesn’t it?”  – Marge Clark.

Clark’s site takes the industry to task for not getting the terminology issue cleared up, in the following fashion.

The LANGUAGE of TODAY

Our industry builds great homes, but does a less than wonderful job educating the public about its homes.  Many people are not aware of the significant changes our homes have undergone since the early 1990’s. Very few people know what to “call” our homes–some use the term “modular home” others “manufactured home” and still others “mobile home”.  The correct term is manufactured home, or simply, “home,” says the GrandLakeView website, herby provided under fair use guidelines for media, so our readers get a fuller sense of the outlook of the one that provided the quote.

The manufactured home community’s page goes onto explain different terminology in a cogent way that educates housing shoppers.  It also asks those shoppers the question, “WOULDN’T you like to live in a community with friendly neighbors who share similar interests and save money?”

On Tuesday morning, 3.19.2019 at 7:36 AM ET, her website said this on their home page. “LAKEVIEW HOMES LLC and GRAND HOMES III LLC  are 55+, Active Lifestyle, Senior communities that have been privately owned and managed by the same family for forty-four years.  We take pride in operating friendly, high value, well-maintained, and personalized manufactured housing communities.”

As an echo of her on-the-record comment to MHProNews, their home page also says the following.

Manufactured housing is housing that is truly affordable housing. It confers on its owners the dignity of making it on their own. The explosion of “affordable” housing that depends on subsidy from our tax dollars, is not affordable to the majority of Americans and it will leave our children and grandchildren with debt they do not deserve.”

Clark’s dated 55 plus community website tells visitors that, One of our missions is to keep your site rent as competitive as possible, and still not allow the communities to look tired or run down. After forty-four years in the business, our typical site rental is $370. Compare that to $550+ found in numerous large wall street owned communities.  Our site rental isn’t a teaser rate that jumps to $550+ in a few years,” with some light space and punctuation editing done in the above, but the wording was all Grand Lakeview’s.

At the end of their nomenclature explanation, visitors read this: “We hope our website has shown you the quantum leaps manufactured housing has made in the past 15 years.  Additionally, we hope the following questions and answers will fill-in the language gaps left by our industry.”

These are arguably polite, public slaps at post-production trade groups.

Clark and her 55+ community website are a snapshot of one of the thousands of manufactured housing industry independents.  While this firm is in the community sector, there are hundreds more in the retail side of the industry too. Then, there are the industry’s numerous transporters, installers, service people, grounds keepers, managers of all sorts, office, financing, insurance, suppliers, and a bevy of other service providers.

What many of these professionals have in common is that they can’t fight big government alone. That is what post-production trade associations exist in the first place.  Those trade groups are supposed to do for dues paying members – including independents like Clark – what she and tens of thousands of others like her can’t easily battle for on their own.

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Cavco estimates there are some 75,000 full time employees (FTE) working in manufactured housing. That sounds far more realistic than MHI’s claim of only 40,000. Shown under fair use guidelines for news media.

Cavco Industries has provided an estimated size for the manufactured home industry at 75,000 full-time employees, or full time equivalents (FTEs). When one considers that number, and then ponders that fact that in February of 2019, third-party Webalizer reported well over 18,000 hits on the Mobile Home Militia article linked here, you can get a sense of the level of engagement industry professionals have on hot-button topics.

Webalizer on just one of several cPanels used reported over 1.2 million pageviews to MHProNews during February, 2019.  The actual total, when the data from each cPanel would be considered, would end up far higher. So well over 10,000 visits daily has been a norm in recent months, with the bulk of those being industry professionals, but other interested parties may include some investors, public officials, mainstream media, or researchers among others.

 

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So, Clark is one voice among tens of thousands of others.  No two hold exactly the same view.  So how is it that anyone seriously believes that manufactured housing can speak with one unified voice, as the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) wants people to believe?  A HUD spokesperson told MHProNews that they didn’t think that speaking with one voice realistic, or even possible.

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On that point, HUD’s spokesperson is spot on. In most industries, there are numerous national trade groups, plus more at the state or local level.

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As you ponder Clark’s points, each raises timely questions.  For example,

  • why is our industry in competition against the tax dollars of professionals?
  • Why is this issue of competition against subsidizing housing not raised more earnestly by manufactured housing’s umbrella trade group?

Answers for that will be posted later this morning, so stay tuned. That is this morning’s manufactured home industry “News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

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