There have been voices within manufactured housing (MH) who from our earliest years in publishing advised and informed the leadership of this pro-industry trade media site. Industry voices, then and now, from across the spectrum, of political or business sizes, provide insights, inputs, and news tips.
Then, there are ‘competing’ industry voices. Some of those blog, while others publish more sophisticated looking industry-related materials. Some articles in slick magazine-like look publications are demonstrably thinly veiled advertising.
But even ads can at times be revealing, and may provide nuggets of insights.
MHProNews strives for and encourages transparency. However, it requires industry experts – and students of human nature – to discern the realities behind the headlines and content that one reads elsewhere in MHVille.
For example, in our recent in-depth look at George Allen, and Spencer Roane, some of the insights about them are straight from among their own “followers” and “members.” Some are from former clients of Allen’s. Some are from people in associations, including MHI.
When one looks at MHInsider, that’s an interesting name for a pro-MHI publication. Perhaps never in the history of the industry have more ads been given to a new publication. Yet the publication is demonstrably unpopular among the rank-and-file members of MHVille.
So ads don’t mean that the publication is read, or trusted by the rank and file.
Is it possible that HUD code manufactured housing industry professionals – a.k.a HUDVille or MHVille – instinctively know pablum? In a number of cases, it seems so.
MHInsider has featured George Allen. It’s an interesting, even unusual, choice.
Sources say that Roane, Allen and an Allen ally, Ken Rishel, have to a certain extent been brought back towards MHI. That’s an uncomfortable scenario for all involved, per those sources.
Allen and Roane are now both former MHI members. Both were declared, per sources, personanna non-grata at MHI.
But Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) backers have told MHProNews that MHI connected companies have found Allen and Roane, and their respective COBA7 and SECO meetings, to be useful as “counterweights.”
Similarly, while her following is reportedly tiny, Suzanne Felber is arguably openly a surrogate for MHI. Felber is respected in her design work. But her and Bruce Savage, who together launched a little known and lightly followed website some years ago, are per third party reports, actively used by MHI and “insider” member companies in various ways. Felber reportedly “volunteers” for certain “duties.”
She isn’t alone.
MHR has featured some articles by the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR), and one article by MHProNews publisher L. A. “Tony” Kovach. MHR struggled in certain ways, until a decision was made by sources connected to Arlington-based MHI to use MHR more aggressively. Again, it was a call by the ‘powers that be’ as a “counterweight” to this industry leading publication. Ads for MHI events, and arguably weaponized reports by MHI EVP Lesli Gooch or others tell the tale. It must be noted that their publisher is a genuinely nice, and a respected man.
But it seems that even nice guys can be turned into de facto MHI and “big boy” surrogates. Add dollars talk.
The Lavin Method
Part of the secret to “reading” those industry trade sources is to use the Lavin method.
Marty Lavin, as a state executive recently told MHProNews, has long been followed by informed industry readers. Lavin is an MHI award winner. He served on MHI boards, task forces, and committees. Lavin served a GSE. He’s been successful in finance, retail, and commuters. Lavin knows the industry at the street level, and the view from the ivory towers too.
With that backdrop, it is Lavin who has said:
- “Follow the money.”
- “Pay more attention to what people do than what they say.” And that:
- “So the association [MHI] is not there for the “industry,” unless the interests of the Big Boys join the industry’s.”
Those three sentences from Lavin speak volumes. Those three thoughts are a key to decoding what is actually taking place in HUDVille.
“Breaking Up Is Hard to Do?”
As MHProNews exclusively reported, two state associations broke ranks with MHI, because their members believed MHI routinely failed at representing their interests.
Those two states have begun the formal process of launching their own independent, land-lease communities focused national association. Susan Brenton, who is playing an important role in that process, has a long history in the industry. Brenton’s background is quite useful to understand. She once served residents, before going to work for the Manufactured Housing Communities of Arizona (MHCA).
Brenton also served for years on the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee (MHCC).
The MHCC is about to become more important again, now that Pamela Beck Danner has been removed from her role at HUD as the administrator over the Office Manufactured Housing Programs (OMHP). While Danner was at OMHP, that legally established body was partially, and debatably unjustly, neutered.
What will happen at the MHCC?
While it remains to be seen if newly confirmed Brian Montgomery will be more like a President George W. Bush man, or more from the new mold of President Donald J. Trump, one ‘tell’ will be if Danner is kept out of the OMHP.
Another ‘tell’ will be who gets assigned to administer the OMHP, and will that person be a non-career administrator s the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA 2000) requires?
If the MHCC is run by the book, per the MHIA, then a spot on the MHCC is potentially useful and important to the industry.
Remaining MHI Affiliated State Associations
The bulk of the remaining state association executives are of necessity stuck with MHI at this time.
There are some state associations executives who, per sources, are genuinely enraptured with MHI.
But many are in MHI under various constraints. The exclusive Gold Rules report explained the details. More state association executives have since confirmed the Gold Rules Report in direct communications to the Daily Business News on MHProNews.
That’s a long lead up to say the following about industry information sources.
Most state association executives have little-to-no choice about sending to their members MHI’s arguably weaponized, spin-filled reports. When an MHI affiliated state association – in ‘their’ message to members – sings the praises of MHI, it’s not necessarily because they believe what a report might say.
Underscore that point. Just because a state association sends an MHI report, for example praising MHI for the passage of S. 2155, that doesn’t mean the executives actually believe it.
This is where decoding a source like George Allen can be useful. As publisher L. A. “Tony” Kovach said yesterday, one must use a “wheat and chaff” approach with Allen. Separating the wheat from the chaff is useful with others in MHVille too.
State executives can literally lose their jobs if they don’t do what Lavin calls “the big boys” want.
That’s been made clear to the Daily Business News by state association directors themselves.
Richard “Dick” Jennison, Lesli Gooch, or even Rick Robinson are in a sense “mouthpieces” – per sources – for the big boys, who must march as directed by the MHI Executive Committee. That executive committee for years has included two Berkshire Hathaway members. The other two often have ties to Berkshire Hathaway companies through finance, or other ways.
Follow the Money, Darkly….
As MHLivingNews and MHProNews publisher Kovach has noted, another important part of the puzzle of MHVille are often politically driven resident groups. There are two noteworthy organizations, the NMHOA, and MHAction. While both have similar views, at the state level, NMHOA affiliates have at times been able to work with manufactured housing state associations. The Ohio and Florida MH associations are two examples where dedicated state executives have been able to find common ground with NMHOA affiliates.
By contrast, MHAction is newer, and more radical. Following the money with them is a must.
“The Center for Popular Democracy, which was founded in 2012, consists of old chapters of ACORN,“ said the Washington Free Beacon. That same D.C source reported last year that, “A new $80 million anti-Trump network is being led by an organization whose top funder is liberal billionaire George Soros and which employs former members of the controversial and now-defunct Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).”
The MHAction roots are found in the Obama-era ACORN. Per Wikipedia, “The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) was a collection of community-based organizations in the United States and internationally that advocated for low- and moderate-income families by working on neighborhood safety, voter registration, health care, affordable housing, and other...” ‘social justice’ causes. Read, “progressive,” or socialist-leaning organization.
ACORN was disbanded in a scandal, but spun off New York Communities for Change (NYCC), where MHAction executive director Kevin Borden hails from.
In an ironic twist, it was former MHI Chairman, and 21st Mortgage Corp President Tim Williams who warned MHI members in a meeting about the radical “progressive agenda.” Again, one must be open to getting keen insights from a wide range of sources, and then sift the meaning behind their messages.
What Williams did not say in that meeting is the obvious connection between Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett, former President Barack Obama, and two-time ‘wanna be’ presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.
Rephrased, Berkshire is in bed with radical progressive causes.
Berkshire owned companies like Clayton Homes, Vanderbilt Mortgage, 21st Mortgage, Berkadia, Shaw, NAI, and others dominate MHI and/or most state associations.
Then there are heavily influenced companies, where Berkshire holds large chunks of stocks, like Wells Fargo. It is interesting to note that Wells and Clayton affiliated lenders have all had scandals that have made headlines in the mainstream media. And the affable Warren Buffett has come to their defense, every time.
Buffett supports left-wing causes. Buffett opposed Donald Trump for president in a very public way.
The Soros-and progressives funded “Center for Popular Democracy” is likewise anti-Trump. They are for more taxes, more regulations, and for the redistribution of wealth.
With that background, it’s arguably utter nonsense to believe that MHI had anything significant to do with the passage of S. 2155. A barely pro-Trump Congress passed, and the president signed the bill. POTUS Trump pledged to do this during his campaign, just as Secretary Hillary Clinton promised to block any bill rolling back parts of Dodd-Frank.
As the Daily Business News repeatedly reported, and the Masthead said more recently, MHI taking credit was to be expected. It’s also taking credit where it’s not deserved.
History reminds us that MHI said “no” to that very same MLO deal – that could have been made with NMHOA, other non-profits and Richard Cordray – years ago. That’s per sources within MHI, and from federal, and some other nonprofit group sources.
Lesli Gooch’s predecessor told MHProNews via an MHI sanctioned email the following. When you line up all the facts – including those from MHI sources – it’s apparent that S 2155 was a CYA, a look for a victory-lap -which is what sources have said.
While commentators will be picking over the remains of the 2012 elections for weeks to come and discussing what the political landscape will look like over the coming year and what impact the elections will have as Congress prepares to return for a lame-duck session, MHI wanted to provide members with some feedback and analysis of the immediate aftermath and outlook for the coming weeks.
The reality published in the Washington Post that Lesli Gooch admitted that MHI did not do anything to remove Pamela Beck Danner from her role at HUD spoke volumes. MHI, per sources, is hoping that fanfare over S 2155 will distract people from the disastrous harm caused by Danner’s heavy hand at HUD to hundreds upon hundreds of operations in MHVille.
Experts, Following the Money
It often takes an expert who knows these various sources, and to accurately discern which way is up.
Again, the fact that dozens of state associations will send messages of praise about MHI is evidence of how controlled those states are. But that doesn’t necessarily mean those executives believe it. Some of those executives are among those who are sources for MHProNews.
- Follow the money.
- Follow what the big boys really want, because their interests may be to gobble up smaller companies, so the interests often don’t align. That’s why MHARR exists, and why a new community-focused association is about to come into existence. One or more other independent national associations could follow.
- Pay more attention to what people do, then what they say.
The proof that MHI has been weaponized isn’t that Lavin, or we, or others say so. Their track record debatably proves it.
When America needs 8.3 million new housing units, and manufactured housing shipments this year might break 100,000, the evidence should speak for itself.
HUDVille, MHVille. It’s sad that a great industry like manufactured housing was reduced to such low levels by the failures and machinations of a relatively small group of so-called “leaders.” Keep in mind what Kevin Clayton said in this video.
Even if Buffett’s Berkshire MH brands lost money, but could expand their Moat, Buffett is okay with losing money. Isn’t that’s their recipe for monopoly?
Rigged MH System?
The system in manufactured housing has arguably been rigged. It’s designed to pick winners and losers. It can be navigated, but the fact that so many companies have been squeezed out of business during an affordable housing crisis speaks volumes.
“We Provide, You Decide.” © Watch for part two of this report about the realities of MHVille in the days ahead. ## (News, analysis, and expert commentary.)
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The Ultimate Manufactured Home Industry Fact$, Data, and Insights – Bullets plus at-a-Glance Infographic – manufacturedhomelivingnews.com
Today we’ll keep it shorter than normal, because we want you to be able to focus on the infographic and data provided below. We could sum this up like this. There is a lot of misinformation about modern manufactured homes, starting with terminology. From there, one can move on to issues of quality, durability, appreciation, and more.
Affordable Housing Focus Group – Comparing Housing Options – Conventional Houses, Condo, Rentals, and Manufactured Homes – Up for Growth, National Association of Realtor, Studies – manufacturedhomelivingnews.com
The Up for Growth National Coalition just published a new report that says the affordable housing crisis is more serious than many realize, and is growing. While their estimates differ, they come to a similar conclusion as the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Lawrence Yun did.
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