Trading Places was a classic 1983 comedy starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy. The premise was “The film tells the story of an upper-class commodities broker (Aykroyd) and a poor street hustler (Murphy) whose lives cross when they are unwittingly made the subject of an elaborate bet to test how each man will perform when their life circumstances are swapped.” That’s per Wikipedia, which also noted that while widely acclaimed, the films has also been panned by some for the verbiage employed in the film. That noted, the notion of illustrating “trading places” between someone fortunate to have a reasonably ‘good life’ with someone with a riskier or harsher life created a mix of serious and comic insights. While hardly a biblical plotline, the movie could be construed through a simple prism espoused by Jesus of Nazareth, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” (Luke 6.31) With that premise, imagine for the next few moments what it would be like to trade places with the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) CEO (setting aside gender, etc.). But let’s ponder other “trading places” insights too, because this will reveal amazing insights for those who want to understand problems as well as seek practical solutions to those longstanding issues.
Briefly, let’s ponder the MHI claimed mission of representing “all segments” of the industry and their stated claim under oath that their aim was to “expand the demand for manufactured homes by seeking fair and equitable treatment in the marketplace and the regulatory and legislative arenas.”
Then image all the tools that are available to the MHI CEO that could be deployed to unleash the American Dream for millions – including the role modern manufactured homes could play?
- The second section of this report and analysis will consider one type of trading places. They are trading places with the MHI CEO, to see how easy or tough it would be to implement a 14 point plan to robustly advance the cause of modern manufactured homes in a manner that could benefit millions of Americans in relatively short order.
- The third section of this trading places will be a homeowner of any color or creed that happens to own a house vs the tens of millions who are currently de-facto often trapped in rental housing.
- But the first section of this report will consider a quick and ‘politically incorrect’ – but evidence-based romp through history. Each of these three sections arguably fit together like puzzle pieces to form a picture of reality and what could be.
Section I: Politically Incorrect But Accurate Historic Realities and Housing in America
Before going deeper, it is good to keep in mind the premise that in America, we are all supposed to be equal in the eyes of the law. Rich or poor – black, brown, olive, creamy, yellow, red, or white – whatever the creed or lack thereof, we are all supposed to live under the same laws but also have the same rights and opportunities. To illustrate that claim, “Equal Justice Under Law” “is a phrase engraved on the West Pediment, above the front entrance of the United States Supreme Court building in Washington D.C.,” states Wikipedia.
Government in the U.S.A. was never meant to be unlimited. The very notion of the U.S. Constitution was that “We the People” are the sovereigns. Our rights as citizens are God-given, said the Declaration of Independence. Human rights are of Divine origin and are not the result of something delegated by government. The 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution are reminders of those realities. Thus, every politician and public servant take an oath of office to uphold that federal Constitution. State employees may take an oath to uphold the federal and state constitutions.
In America, independent states created the federal government, and not the other way around. Individual state powers were limited by their respective constitutions too.
However imperfect, those notions were lightyears ahead of most any other place on the planet before that time.
One must bear in mind that much of the history of the world has been tied up in wars, conflicts, and people being subjected and enslaved by their own so-called leaders or those of a different tribal or foreign power. Those who want to project onto American history that everything was idyllic in America before Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ that he could sail west from Europe and find the New World are ignoring the fact that tribes and indigenous groups here were often in conflict.
There was slavery and there were human sacrifices in America before Columbus sailed “the ocean blue” in 1492. Beyond slavery and human sacrifices, there was hardly the modern notions of protecting the rights of the young to be kept from hard labor, or women to be treated as an equal to men, just some of the harsh realities that authentic history reveals. Such facts remind or informs us that everything isn’t racial or ‘white male’ gender based: injustice has existed since early in the dawn of human history.
Whites have enslaved or made serfs of other whites. Blacks have enslaved blacks. Native Americans enslaved others that moderns would consider their own kind, and so on. Those points are part of authentic history. We should not allow history to be weaponized in ways that are meant to foment distrust. There are plenty of authentic issues to address in our society without a need for fabricating, exaggerating, or conveniently ignoring realities that don’t fit a given agenda’s narrative. As Jesus said, it is the truth and following the truth that sets people free (John 8:31-32).
Relevant Snapshots of Housing in America
That backdrop established, let’s look at housing and its place in the American Dream. A series of facts will set the table for ‘trading places.’
- Per various sources, dozens of nations have a higher rate of homeownership than the U.S.
- Homeownership is perhaps the most proven way in the U.S. to begin household wealth creation and for multi-generational family wealth building.
- The most proven form of affordable housing and affordable home ownership in the U.S. are modern manufactured homes.
- Manufactured homes, per HUD, the FHFA, the Urban Institute, and other often university-level sources defy the common misconceptions. For instance, manufactured homes appreciate side-by-side with conventional housing in urban neighborhoods. Manufactured homes appreciate at similar rates as conventional housing. Manufactured homes are similar – and sometimes modestly safer – than conventional housing in fire and windstorms when they are properly installed. Installation standards and enhanced consumer benefits were part of the deal that helped the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) of 2000 get enacted into law by widely bipartisan margins.
- The federal laws needed to finance those dreams and make them widely accessible in numerous rural, suburban, and urban settings already exist. They need only to be properly enforced.
- Despite a steady drum-beat of bad news about predatory brands and often troubling and harmful to consumers corporate behavior, those behaviors routinely trace back to some of the same companies that are often the dominating brands at the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and/or MHI’s state association affiliates.
- Given repeated opportunities live or by email to debunk concerns, MHI and their leading brands have routinely declined doing so.
- In the only extended debate – performed digitally via LinkedIn – loyal MHI member Andy Gedo ended up making several useful observations and concessions before withdrawing from the debate. Restated, the evidence for these claims have withstood public and other tests.
Section II. Trading Places with the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) CEO
Now, let’s imagine that someone else was given the job MHI CEO Lesli Gooch, Ph.D, currently holds.
Then, picture the fact set above. Note that MHI’s Gooch has confirmed these facts herself in several instances. On papers, MHI’s position and that of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) are often seemingly similar. The longer and more detailed Infographic MHI, MHARR, Nonprofits, Public Officials and Industry Researcher Quotable Quotes, linked here, make that point plain. Just a few of those are sufficient to set the stage for Section II of Trading Places. Rephrased, what is necessary is for MHI to act upon their publicly stated claims.
Weeks ago, in an exclusive Q&A with MHProNews, Danny Ghorbani laid out the logic of what MHI could achieve. One must keep in mind that Ghorbani’s career started at MHI. He is one of the few in our profession who can say his career spans some 5 decades. So, his insights are unique and compelling.
The reverse of that potential is illustrated by loyal MHI members and MHI affiliate leaders Amy Bliss and Mary Gaiski.
Mark Weiss, J.D., President and CEO of MHARR said some 2 years ago that they reached out to dozens of state associations, which happen to be what MHI says are their state affiliates to offer to take a case to court. MHARR had no takers. Hmmm, interesting. If MHI wants to make their mission match their deeds, a new “Trading Places” MHI CEO could do so.
Consider this simple and common-sense plan that fits MHI’s own claimed mission.
- An MHI CEO could start the process of intervening in an issue currently underway in Ayden, N.C. There the Taft family wants a manufactured home, but they are being denied that by most municipal leaders. Those leaders have been directly and publicly advised about federal law. Most Ayden officials have yet to relent, at least not publicly. So, a “Trading Places” style MHI CEO could have their general counsel and/or outside attorney(s) address municipal leaders in Ayden to tell them that they will sue the city if the Taft’s rights to a manufactured home under the benefits provided by the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) of 2000 and its so-called ‘enhanced preemption’ provision are denied.
- Similarly, such a new MHI CEO could instruct their inside and/or outside counsel to address the FHFA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac (among others involved in lending). They could point to the relevant parts of the HERA 2008 law, note that the law has been thwarted for some 13 years, and then take them to court.
- Such proposed lawsuits would generate public interest. Just the written threat of a suit could create news coverage. That coverage would shed light on why such legal actions are needed. News could spark debate. The controversy, properly handled, could be good for the industry, good for those lawsuits, and would in time benefit those who earnestly desire their part of the American Dream.
- MHI’s current CEO has proven that they can get op-ed style “letters to the editor” into specialized and national publications. So, a forward-looking “Trading Places” MHI CEO could make a case similar to the ones made by Ayden Mayor Pro-Tem Ivory Mewborn and MHProNews editor L. A. “Tony” Kovach. A sincere MHI CEO could be highly specific, rather than generic, as Gooch arguably was to with HousingWire or the Washington Post.
- MHI’s CEO could have their communications person address each and every case of misinformation that is found in media. MHI’s CEO could have their communications person contact the Associated Press (see report linked below for the Masthead report in the headlines for the week, below). MHI’s CEO could contact Google and YouTube, among others, and get terminology issues clarified.
- A Trading Places MHI CEO could pull the clearly flawed and failed CrossModTM plan off the MHI home page.
- Instead of CrossMods, it could have a link to third-party research reports that explain the benefits of modern manufactured homes and the evolutionary history from the trailer houses of the 1930s into the mobile homes of the 1950s into the mid-1970s, into the early manufactured homes starting June 15, 1976. Then, it could lay out the wind zones established circa 1994. Last, and certainly not least, would be an explanation of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 and its range of consumer safeguards, installation, and “enhanced preemption” legal standards, among others.
- A Trading Places MHI CEO could invoke their authority under MHI/NCC Code of Ethical Conduct. Instead of giving awards or stage-time to professionals who have often been connected to bad news and negative publicity generating legal action, MHI’s CEO could rebuke and if needed remove those companies that engage in such “predatory” behavior that causes such harm to the industry’s image.
- A Trading Places MHI CEO could layout via all forms of media the path for potentially millions of Americans of all economic backgrounds to become homeowners instead of renters.
- A Trading Places MHI CEO could invoke federal laws that would make developing new manufactured home land-lease communities, as well as other developments faster and more economically. Given the proper enforcement and implementation of the MHIA, Duty to Serve (DTS), FHA, VA, USDA, and other forms of lending, homeownership would soar. Pressure on rental hikes would abate.
- A Trading Places MHI CEO could team up with MHARR authentically and routinely as needed, just as was done to accomplish the passage of the MHIA.
- A Trading Places MHI CEO would encourage authentic discussions and elections at MHI, instead of what critics say are staged and rigged processes that are designed to advance the agenda of insiders that dominate the current and several years of prior MHI board of directors.
- If MHI’s dominating brands board pushed back against such efforts by a Trading Places MHI CEO, that staff leader could make it quite simple. He or she is just state publicly to the media that they are doing what their organization’s mission statement calls for. Such a Trading Places MHI CEO could point to what their annual IRS form 990 says is their agenda which is stated under penalties of perjury. Additionally, MHI’s board would be honor-bound to follow that mission; failure to do so would result in a scandal that could rip whatever remains of the cover they have had for years that has fostered consolidation instead of rapid and profitable industry growth.
- This is just the start of what a Trading Places MHI CEO could be doing. Let’s note that any state association executive could do something similar.
That fairly brief 14-point outline happens to fit what MHI claims but then fails to act upon in a logical manner.
What would be the result of such a hypothetical Trading Places MHI CEO effort? The answer to that comes from California and its recent liberalization of the placement of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) under state preemption. Sales soared some 600 percent in just a few short years. Apply that to HUD Code manufactured housing nationally. There could be some 700,000 plus new HUD Code manufactured homes being sold annually, based on the California ADU results applied nationally. But that doesn’t take into account the financing and other aspects of the plan outlined above.
Restated, there could be a million or more new HUD Code manufactured home sales annually in the next few years.
If that seems like an impossible dream, keep in mind that modular builders are planning dozens of new production centers. With the demand and legal support in place, there would be current and newcomers to the industry. Instead of Eric Belsky looking like he missed, his projection in the early 21st century would come to pass, only it would be delayed by the intervening years of feckless if not fraudulent MHI ‘leadership.’
Section III. The Realization of the Rev Martin Luther King Jr Dream of a Color-Blind Society of Opportunity Based on Character and Peaceful Action
One of our reports linked below (National Housing Conference) reveals, even if the multi-trillion dollar Biden plan were enacted, it doesn’t actually claim to solve the housing crisis. Nor does it claim to solve the decades – centuries – of inequity in an equal access to the dream of affordable home ownership being made available for all.
The reality is that tens of millions, a little over 60 percent of the population, are glad to have their own house, and may not feel as much ‘pressure’ to help those living nearby to get their own homes. But what if the shoe were on the other foot? What if housing owners had to ‘trade places’ with those who don’t own a home of their own?
When carefully examined, there are actually benefits for current as well as potential homeowners for a broader inclusion in the American Dream. This outline doesn’t require a massive new federal program. Actually, it would over time reduce the need for such programs. It would reduce, over time, taxation.
The Biblical notion of “Treating others the way you would want to be treated” is the authentic “trading places” means of achieving a more just society. It would also, perhaps surprisingly to some, reveal lower taxation and less need for ‘programs’ and bureaucracy.
This isn’t a new notion. MHLivingNews published such a proposed such a plan during the Obama-Biden years, some 6 years ago.
In fairness, while that as all our article, it wasn’t our idea in the strictest sense. Leaders in our industry, often those involved in MHARR, pushed for such ideals for decades. It is part of why the MHIA was enacted in the first place.
Let’s be clear. Manufactured homes made widely available for home ownership would not cure every ill of American society. That’s not the claim or the point.
But such an effort would be a strong start to a plan that has been delayed for over 50 years, per the revelations of HUD’s own research as previously reported by MHProNews and MHLivingNews.
Instead of finger point by politicians and plans to borrow and spend trillions – which never worked before in U.S. history, and there is no evidence that it would work now – what would happen instead is a free market solution that could create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in our industry alone. Other industries would need to employ more people to supply the components necessary to build the homes needed.
Millions would start building equity instead of piling up worthless rent receipts.
Those who still rent would feel an increasingly less stress, as market forces would naturally abate the pressures now experienced.
As Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and people of whatever color, gender, or creed poured into home ownership, positive ripples would occur in cities and towns across the country.
Instead of years of racial or other divisions, we could witness in its place the fruits of a more perfect Union.
With these points in mind, do not miss the brief but important Postscript for today.
With no further adieu, here are the headlines for the week that was 10.10 to 10.17.2021
What’s New on the Masthead
What’s New and Recent on Manufactured Home Living News (MHLivingNews)
What’s New and Recent from Washington, D.C. from MHARR
What’s New on the Words of Wisdom from Tim Connor, CSP
What’s New on the Daily Business News on MHProNews
An elected official that is pro-manufactured housing has emailed and called MHProNews to say that “I’m all in.” “Let’s do this.” It has been said that all politics are local. There is a truth to that, but in the modern era, nationalizing of issues has also occurred.
With that in mind, there has to be local efforts with national implications. That has the power to change what is hypothetical in the 14 point plan above into reality, regardless of what MHI does or fails to do.
Watch for what’s next as we continue to explore the problems and pragmatic solutions that could be put into motion without the need for delays and new laws. What our profession and America needs are to enforce existing laws fairly and as swiftly as possible. Understanding the facts. Understand what law enforcement would do. And then press public officials to enforce the law or suffer the political consequences.
These are the simple notions that when absent has ailed our industry and nation for far too long. But by “trading places,” by doing what’s right instead of what benefits a few – that is the path to authentically bring about a better Republic and a more just society for all.
Don’t just break up the monopolists. Break those colluding toward monopolization up, plus – where the law supports it – fine and/or imprison as possible. A few ten year sentences would do our industry and our nation a lot of good.
Joe Biden had a point in saying that capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. But as we’ve said then and since, that statement – however true it may be – can be mere window dressing. The sentiment for antitrust is growing in America. The time to break up the monopolization of the manufactured housing industry is now. Through tips, documents, insider insights, by using our services, or whatever means you can, join us in this fight to free “We the People” to give millions more opportunities to fulfill the American Dream.
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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
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