Before pivoting to the Sam Landy, J.D., President and CEO of UMH Properties test, let’s first ponder the following thoughts, which are related. For the next few moments, MHProNews will apply a pair of politicians’ slogan to the manufactured housing industry. As a brief reminder to set the stage for a quick, focused fact-check of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and their major brands, recall the following. During the 2018-2020 campaign seasons, the Trump-Pence Presidential-Vice Presidential team used a simple formula for messaging. “Promises Made, Promises Kept” were part of the Trump-Pence rallies and their related banners and slogans.
Why not apply that same standard to MHI and their major brands? Hold that thought…
In upcoming exposés, several specific written statements made by Kevin Clayton, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway owned Clayton Homes on behalf of MHI will be revealed. While these are formal statement by Clayton, they are not found on the public side of the MHI website.
The documents involved in that upcoming report on Clayton and MHI were obtained by MHProNews from Democratic Congressional lawmakers.
The Clayton statements are eye opening on several levels. But suffice it to say, while they have unique aspects, they are broadly in keeping with others made by the Arlington, VA based MHI trade group. Those claims will be measured against others also made on other occasions by Kevin, MHI, or leaders of that trade group.
That sets the stage for the related Landy remarks.
Some years ago, at an MHI meeting, UMH CEO Landy remarked to some of his team members and others standing nearby this thought. Paraphrased, Landy said that after attending several years of MHI meetings, the same topics and discussions keep occurring at MHI meetings. But there is no apparent progress, he mused. Given that pattern, was it worth his time coming?
Landy might see that differently now.
But that standard Landy expressed is as apt today as it was when he spoke it. Where is the progress? Now, years later, during Democratic or Republican Administrations, were is the progress that MHI’s self-proclaimed clout they are supposed to deliver?
Be it Clayton, MHI, or other specific leaders in what MHI award-winner Marty Lavin has referred to as a “big boys” club, they should all be subjected to the simple test of accountability and performance.
Have they lived up to their own words?
The Lavin notion of matching words to deeds to see if they promises made were later kept is hardly unique. Lavin has said variations of pay more attention to what people do than what they say for years. It is a different way of testing if “promises made” were later kept. If not, why not? Who benefited from this pattern?
Others before or since Marty claimed his MHI lifetime service achievement award in manufactured housing finance made similar remarks about carefully watching to see if statements matched deeds. Were promises made by MHI and their leaders kept?
The case can be made that the short answer, with respect to MHI and their leaders, is “no.”
Several of the reports for the week that directly or obliquely make that case. But let’s take a fresh look at just a few examples of MHI claims during the last 4 years.
- During the Trump Administration, MHI’s then Executive Vice President (EVP) Lesli Gooch, Ph.D. – who has since been elevated to the CEO role – spoke to the Washington Post about working to reorganizing manufactured housing within the regulatory structure at HUD.
- MHI has spoken and written about passing new laws and incentives to get local jurisdictions to accept manufactured homes.
- MHI has told their members about how former MHI general counsel, Rick Robinson, attended a meeting of local officials and addressed the notion of getting them to accept manufactured homes.
- MHI had HUD Secretary Ben Carson address their annual meetings twice.
- MHI has years and numbers of photo and video opportunities with key lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Besides HUD leaders, among the federal officials they met with for photo ops were top FHFA and CFPB officials.
- MHI had at least two meetings at the Trump White House.
But after all of that and more, precisely what tangible result can MHI point to from those photo and video ops?
Let’s look at a few facts and evidence.
- Until the last two monthly reporting periods, manufactured housing was in a 2½ year slide.
- Despite useful regulatory reforms in general, tax cuts, and a Trump Administration mantra of ‘enforcing the law,’ despite obvious access to HUD leadership, MHI did not get HUD to enforce the law as written and intended on the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA or 2000 Reform law). Specifically, MHI failed on the key “enhanced preemption” enforcement that could make removing zoning and placement barriers a breeze.
- Who says? Ironically, Amy Bliss Wisconsin Housing Alliance (WHA) executive director and a dependable MHI cheerleader, told Kurt Kelley in an interview that lawmakers and public official were hypocrites. They say they want affordable housing, Bliss said, but they clearly do not actually support manufactured homes which are affordable homes.
- But besides Bliss, MHI’s EVP and then CEO Lesli Gooch has said as much, as the two linked comments in this line indicate.
- Then, despite claiming that they wanted more lending on manufactured home financing, especially chattel lending, neither FHA Title I’s onerous 10/10 rule has been changed, nor has the FHFA compelled the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs or Enterprises) of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to make chattel loans. Years of promises, and then? Nothing. Who says? Gooch, and the GSEs!
This begs the obvious accountability and performance related questions.
Check out the postscript today following the headlines for the week that was for more that is even more pointed during the 8 years of the Obama-Biden Administration.
The above sets the stage for these three simple, yet troubling factual and evidence-based observations.
- MHI, as well as Kevin Clayton, have each promised marketing/image campaigns that would elevate manufactured housing. As a report linked below reflects, MHI has made some assurances under penalties of perjury. But when measured in research by third-party Zillow, the interest in manufactured housing during the Trump-Pence years declined. That can hardly be called progress or successful performance, can it? Especially, when sales and production dipped for 2½ years?
- On manufactured home financing, MHI may not use this specific phrase, but they admitted that no progress was made on DTS, much less FHA Title I, or other possible loan programs that could deliver lower cost lending to consumers. See the links above. Keep in mind that these are existing laws. There is no need to enact something new. The only need is to get existing laws enforced. If MHI can’t get existing laws enforced, what is the point in trying to get new laws passed?
- On manufactured home zoning/placement, MHI once more may not admit it with these specific words. But Gooch has said more than once that HUD could and should issue fresh guidance to enforce “enhanced preemption” of manufactured housing. See those links above.
By their own stated and written standards, MHI and their leaders have promised but not delivered, either during the Democratic Obama-Biden years, nor during the Republican Trump-Pence years.
Then what is the purpose of those meetings that Landy lamented?
The answer to that is unpacked in a systematic, case-by-case fashion, in part in the Saturday Satire and other reports linked below. Time after time, a pattern emerges of promises, self-praise, and assurance are made by MHI leaders to their independent members. But paradoxically, when the evidence is examined, promises are oddly not kept. For details, see the examples linked in the various reports below. But let’s note that the recent shift up in shipments is not apparently due to anything positive that MHI has done, see that report linked here.
When asked to respond to these concerns and patterns, Berkshire and MHI leaders demurred.
Again, do not miss the postscript that follows the headlines for this week.
With no further adieu, let’s turn to the headlines for the week that was from 6.6 to 6.13.2021.
What’s New and Recent on MHLivingNews
What’s New and Recent on the Masthead
What’s New from Washington, D.C. from MHARR
What’s New on the Daily Business News on MHProNews
“Storz Stiffs Seniors” WMA Tied Storz Management Company Protests Stirs Havenpark-RHP-Frank Rolfe Style “Predatory” Allegations by Seniors, MHAction Protestors – Unpacking Facts – plus, Manufactured Home Stock Updates
Cavco’s Boor – Affordable Housing – Facts, Fiction, P.E.P. – Manufactured Housing Institute Claims & Democratic-Republican Political History with MHI Examined – plus, Manufactured Home Investing, Stock Updates
First, as a programming note, the lumber report planned for this past week has been pushed into this week watch for it.
Perhaps as or more important, are upcoming reports on Kevin Clayton and MHI’s Chairman, and Clayton’s General Counsel, Tom Hodges.
What precisely did they accomplish during the Obama-Biden years? After all, you did not get more access than Kevin Clayton’s boss Warren Buffett sitting with President Barack Obama at the White House.
The answer? By the same standards of measurement during the Trump Pence Administration, nothing.
In fact, the Trump Pence years gave MHI their long-sought MLO rule modification. But the other parts of Preserve Access to Manufactured Housing Act were never passed into law.
Which begs the question. Since MHI’s big boy members routinely praise MHI, what precisely are they praising?
The answer is both increasingly obvious and sobering. It is consolidation. The evidence is found in Investor Relations reports by publicly trade MHI member companies, as is clear from the Nathan Smith/Flagship report linked above. The evidence is found also reports like the one about Storz above, which proclaims something similar on their website’s investor pitch page.
Who says? MHI’s own members, and one of their chief critics for their posturing without performance, the leaders of MHARR.
The Berkshire brands and MHI have been hiding the truth of their performance in plain sight. But when MHI leaders failed to take action against Lesli Gooch for documented conflicts of interest and working for others while on MHI’s dime/clock, what should have been expected?
Promises were made. Those promises were demonstrably not kept. Landy and others may or may not lament that now, because they are consolidating the industry due to this multi-year pattern.
Once upon a time, affordable manufactured housing was far bigger. Who says? MHI’s own data. Also, the data that is produced by MHI publicly traded firms.
The powers that be in our industry can’t have it both ways.
- If the MHI leaders are sincere in their claims of wanting industry growth, they have demonstrably failed for the past 12 plus years.
- Or, if they were not sincere about growth, but rather wanted to keep the industry underperforming to foster consolidation, then they have been misrepresenting their claims to the industry.
- Put differently, a close look at the facts, trends, and evidence suggests that either they are incompetent or they are engaged in a sham. For the record, MHProNews does not believe that the evidence suggests that the leaders of the various firms and MHI are incompetent.
It remains to be seen if Cavco Industries (CVCO) CEO Bill Boor is serious about ‘catching up’ to conventional housing in building far larger numbers of units. Boor’s statement below is demonstrably correct. It could be done. The question is, will it be done? With this brief snapshot revealing over a 12 year MHI pattern, is there any reason to think that they and the big boy brands on the MHI board plan to do something differently?
Watch for those upcoming reports. There are potentially explosive admissions and revelations made by Kevin Clayton and Tom Hodges in records provided by Congressional lawmakers to MHProNews. Watch for it.
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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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